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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Late Summer Brings Jalapeno Pepper Bounty: Now What?

Hurray for summer and hurray for late summer harvests! One of the most prolific plants we have growing in the hill country garden (besides tomatoes) is jalapeno. We are harvesting about 40 jalapenos a week! They are gorgeous, shiny and plump! We don't use any pesticides or toxic matter in our gardens, so this is all pure and unadulterated goodness!

I had to start thinking creatively here....what to do with 40 jalapeno peppers per week? I've certainly given out plenty to friends so I had to think of responsible ways to preserve and celebrate this bounty.

Aha! Time for the dehydrator!

In very short order, I cleaned and sliced a couple dozen peppers and arranged them on the dehydrator tray sheets. Aren't they magnificent?

While I was at it, I sliced up some bell peppers and heirloom tomatoes from the garden and added them to the dehydrator, too.

When tomatoes are dehydrated, their flavors get concentrated and are so mouth wateringly delicious! They can be stored and used throughout the year. They can be used as a chip with dips and they can be ground and added to season foods - it's incredible flavor that can’t be beat.

Once the sliced peppers were fully dehydrated, I just took time to marvel at this beautiful fruit. It seems the more you work foods into different forms (infusions, dehydrated, raw, cooked, pureed, etc.), the more you get to know and appreciate what it has to offer.

As I held the peppers in my hands and smelled the intoxicating smoky sweet aroma it exuded, I began to think about how lovely this would be powdered and ground into spice.

Before I did that, I offered one of the dried slices to herbhusband whose face and eyes after eating it turned bright red....after a couple coughs and a bit of beer - he smiled and said how delicious the pepper was. Although the flavor of the pepper is deepened the heat was very much intact!

Seeing I was in one of my "busy body" moods, I grew more excited about grinding these peppers into spice. Out came my trusty grinder and as I placed handful after handful of these lovely jalapeno pepper chips in the grinder - I knew I was on to something good!

As I started to grind the peppers, the fine powder filled the air and absolutely took my breath away! I realized the vital potency of the peppers was so strong I needed to cover my nose before I continued to grind! Wow, were they strong! My eyes watered and I coughed a bit. Once I used a scarf to shield my nose I was back in business!

The result was pure delight. A beautiful spice was being created before my eyes! I continued to grind - seeds and all.

This is really worth doing and I recommend you try this at home… The rich color and rich aroma is mouth watering and irresistible.

This is what a couple dozen sliced, dehydrated and ground peppers looks like! Amazing -

Now, instead of staring at jalapenos sitting on the counter top getting wrinkly from not being able to eat them in time, I can enjoy and share this deep...rich...aromatic spice with friends and family all year long. I can hardly wait to sprinkle some on deviled eggs and in soups!

Now...what to do with the rest of the 60 jalapenos I picked out of the garden? I see pickled jalapenos in apple cider vinegar in my future ;)

1 comment:

Catherine Grace, CHS said...

Jalapeños are among my favorite "crops" on our little organic farm in New York. At the moment my favorite preservation mode for them is making chipotle—I smoke them for an hour or two (using soaked apple wood), then finish them in the dehydrator at 125º. They also make fabulous hot sauce. And add at least one nice green or red one to a jar of lacto-fermented cukes with dill and garlic for jalapeño dills! Mmmmm, good!