Fermented Hot Sauce

Every few years I make some fermented hot sauce.   We call it “Cold Snap” hot sauce as we harvest the ripe peppers at the time of the first frost.   I greatly prefer to use ripe peppers rather than green for the flavor as well as the color.  A few green ones do get included but if you add too many the bright orange/ red color will become brown.

This year we had: Mucho Nacho Jalapeno, Super Cayenne, Super Chili, Sweet Banana. Unfortunately my habaneros split in the recent rains and were mostly moldy inside, so there were only 4 to distribute among the jars.

Each quart jar has about 15-16 oz mixed chopped peppers (most seeds removed), 1/2 bulb chopped garlic.  2 jars were left as is.  The other 4 jars  also had 1/4 can – 3oz- of Minutemaid Limeade concentrate. Of these 4 jars,  2 jars had a pinch of Lactobacillus Helveticus and the 2 remaining jars had a pinch of  Lactobacillus Plantarum powder. I use these for  my kettle sour beers.  The 6 quart jars started out as 3 gallons of mixed peppers before chopping, destemming and removing the seeds from the larger ones.

The jars are topped off with a glass weight and 4% brine.   Lids and fermentation locks. The jars are placed in a plastic bin (to catch the inevitable overflow) and left in a dark place at room temperature for 3 weeks.  The time is not critical but there is the risk of mold forming.

chooped peppers in fermentation jars
Peppers at the start of fermentation

The Lactobacillus Helveticus kicked off the fastest by a day or 2. In the end it was also my favorite due to a slightly fruitier flavor.

Most of the jars had a layer of pellicle and / or  Kahm yeast to some degree. This was scooped off and the inside of the rim cleaned with a spatula before adding to the blender. Approximately 4 oz of liquid was removed in the process.

Ferment with pellicle and some kahm yeast – normal
After scooping out the pellicle and kahm yeast.

Each jar is blended separately. When starting the blender, beware – the pepper pulp still has a lot of CO2 in it that will be released as you start the blender. Hold your hand over the lid as you start it!   Each pair of jars of the same type were then blended and boiled for 15 min.  This is IMPORTANT. There is still dissolved CO2 in the pulp. If you go straight from the blender to the jars and heat process the bottles will blow their tops!  Blend until reasonably smooth 30-60 seconds. If you go too long, the seeds get ground up too, which is not desirable as they can add a bitter flavor .

Blending the peppers – note the bubbles

All of the batches ended up very sour with pH in the range of 2.85 to 2.94.  This a safe pH (<3.4) for shelf stable canning. I calibrated the meter right before use and checked it twice.

pH checking hot sauce

 

 

 

 

Run the pulp through a food mill or strainer to remove the seeds and skins. Pour the now cooked hot sauce into the jars.  We use a measuring cup and funnel rather than a ladle.  You can see my ever so patient wife, Teal, filling the bottles (she does not use hot sauce).

Teal filling the bottles

Process in boiling water for 15 minutes.  Once they are cool add the labels and shrink bands on top for a finishing touch. We prefer to shrink with a heat gun or you can invert them into boiling water to shrink.

Success

Finished Hot Sauces

All 3 sets tasted great but I am partial to the Helveticus batch.

Resources:

Facebook group: Fermented Hot Sauce Society 

Book: Fiery Ferments

5oz Woozy bottles with red bands

Hot sauce bottle labels

Dr. Meter pH meter  I bought this initially for beer making and is more accurate than relying on the acid range (0-6) pH paper that I had used in the past.

Mirro Foley Food Mill 

Lallemand Sourpitch Lactobacillus Helveticus

Lallemand Sourpitch Lactobacillus Plantarum

 

So did anything go wrong along the way?

Yes.

Moldy Ferment – discard

We were short one of the glass weights as it was in a jar of fermented pickles we made earlier in the summer. We ere going to get it back and then forgot. We should have just placed  a baggie of water in that jar. That jar was ruined by mold.   Above, you can see the fuzzy result with white and green mold.   This is a good reason to split up your ferment / experiment into multiple jars. That way if one goes bad there are still others to use. Basically for us we get one shot at this each year. The farmers markets and grocery stores just don’t have sufficient quantities of RIPE pepper, just lots of green ones.

We initially skipped boiling the hot sauce before hot water processing. 4 lids blew off and we had a good mess to clean off of the underside of the microwave and all over the cook top.  We lost about 1 bottle (net) of hot sauce due to this.  As the sauce heated up,  the CO2 was released from the pulp and it rose up the neck of the bottles and blew the lids.   This was an oversight that will not be repeated.    We had to empty the bottles, boil the sauce, refill and then hot process.  No more issues.

Splattered hot sauce-4 lids blew off

Please note, I may earn money from affiliate links.

 

 

 

Eggplant Caponata

I have searched for years to find a good Eggplant Caponata recipe.  This was started when I was looking for something similar to my Grandma Ann’s  Antipasto recipe but without the tuna and not quite as difficult to make.  What I have found in italian markets and specialty grocers never comes close. Hers was a food of love.

A few weeks ago an old friend posted a link to an Eggplant Caponata recipe on Facebook from: https://createtv.com/recipe/caponata+stewed+summer+vegetables.

I made it, and our family quickly devoured it (and I had a few bites for leftovers).

It is still time consuming, but  while not the same as my Grandmas. it evokes some of the same “food memories” and our family loves it.  So take the following recipe with a grain of salt (and maybe a glass of wine)  and adjust to the summer or fall garden bounty at hand. The grouping of ingredients and cooking technique are more important than the exact proportions. Having real garden (or farmers market) fresh plum tomatoes is one of the keys to success (as is the fresh basil).  This year I discovered growing San Marzano tomatoes. Great flavor and very low moisture compared to other varieties that I have grown.

Ingredients per batch

4-5 small or 2 large eggplants  ~2 lbs

1/2 cup red wine vinegar – boiled to reduce by half

2 Tbsp sugar

2 medium or 1 large onion

1 medium to large yellow or red bell pepper

4 ribs celery

1lb fresh plum tomatoes  – San Marzano are ideal. Frozen, thawed and drained also work, but you may have to add back some liquid that was drained at the end if things are too stiff.

1 cup green olives – castelvetrano or cerignola – sliced

1/3 cup small capers drained or salted that were washed and soaked in warm water. For either, soak in warm water changes a few times for 15-30 min total to remove some more salt.

10 large basil leaves – finely chopped

Prep and cook

Chop all of the veggies into 1/2-3/4″ pieces. There is no need to peel the eggplant or tomatoes.

Toss the eggplant with 1-1.5 tsp fine grained salt (Morton Canning and Pickling Salt)  and drain for 60 min.

Use your largest skillet, dutch oven or shallow stock pot. The frying will make a mess otherwise and you want lots of surface area for evaporation.

Pan fry the eggplant in 2/3 c vegetable oil for 15 min on high heat 0r deep fry at 365F for 10 min.  Drain and set aside

Saute the onion, celery and pepper in olive oil until translucent on medium heat. You still want a little bit of snap and definitely no browning. About 8-10 min

Add the capers, olives and tomatoes, vinegar and sugar.  Saute until the liquid is basically gone. About 10 min or close to 20 if using regular tomatoes (non-plum). Add basil at the end so as to not cook off the flavor.

Add several grinds coarse black pepper (~1/3 tsp)

Cool and serve or continue to canning while hot

Canning

For vegetables such as these,the pH must be below 4.5 and preferably around 4.0 for food safety when boiling water bath canning . Consult your University Extension if you have ANY doubts on technique. https://learningstore.uwex.edu/Assets/pdfs/B1159.pdf.

Test with pH paper. I have a roll of Hydrion 0-6 pH which I use for canning to give sufficient resolution.  If pH is too high, add more red wine vinegar or lemon juice and boil a bit more if too runny. Ours came out in the 4-4.3 pH range consistently over 3 batches.

Pack in sterilized jars and process in boiling water bath for 20 minutes

Each batch should make about 4-5 pints minus what you sample.

Candied Jalapenos – Cowboy Candy

Background

Last year, was our first try making these treats. They were an instant hit. However, with only 12 half pints we had to conserve the supply for family gatherings and parties. Even people that are not pepper aficionados will go for these (except for my wife Teal).  The original recipe from Foodiewithfamily.com was modified somewhat.  Our favorite way to enjoy them is with cream cheese or mild cheddar and crackers. Some of you may think this similar to the pepper jelly cream cheese and crackers that was popular in the 70’s.

So this year we set out to make a lot more. I planted a good supply of peppers of various types (Jalapenos, Big Jims, corno di toro, and caribbean reds)  and then let them ripen.  However with a dozen plants this was not enough. So yesterday, I went to the Waukesha farmer’s market early and bought out a couple of the vendors.   Each batch requires 3 pounds stemmed and seeded, approximately 3.5 to 4 lbs whole.  We overbought – next time I will bring a scale.  Ideally you will have 1/3 – 1/2 ripe red peppers and the balance being green jalapenos (or serranos if you like more heat) . This photo shows about 10 lbs.

You can double the batches without problem if you have large enough kettles.  Each batch will have left over liquid which you keep using, just add to it to replenish. Every 3rd batch or so, we skip adding more liquid.  Use pH test paper to make sure it is still in the sub 4.5 range, if not using pH paper , keep adding half as much vinegar on the “skip” batches to make sure it stays safely acidic.  Wear gloves, otherwise after handling several batches of peppers, you won’t be able to touch any sensitive areas for better than a day.

Prep the peppers

To prep the peppers there are 2 methods that we use. You can use a corer (like the Big Green Egg Jalapeno corer) or modify one of the cheap ones from the grocery store. This allows you to and pull the seeds and membranes out if they are large and then slice. However this really only works well with very large peppers. A better way is to start slicing from the pointy end and then pause when you hit seeds. 1/8 to 1/4″ wide slices. Now slice off the stem end. Stand the pepper on one of the cut ends and now start slicing vertically shaving off strips the same width around the seeds.   The second method is not only faster, you end up with a lot less seeds mixed in with your peppers.   I am not a fan of the bitterness of the seeds and membranes.  I think this is one of the keys to having great tasting results. We did a comparison to some commercially made candied peppers that were merely sliced with the seeds left in and ours won the flavor comparison hands down.

Ingredients

3 lbs seeded and sliced peppers (1/8-1/4″ thick slices or strips). We include 2 habaneros per batch for bit more heat and flavor. Weigh it out!

2 cups apple cider vinegar

6 cups white sugar  (yes a lot they are Candied peppers)

1/2 tsp ground Tumeric

1/2 tsp celery seed

1 Tbsp granulated garlic

1 tsp ground cayenne pepper

In a large pot, mix all of the ingredients except the peppers. Bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Watch carefully as it starts to boil as it will boil over easily (like jelly, and make just as much of a mess).  Add the peppers and bring back to a boil. Once boiling, boil for another 4 minutes.

Each batch makes 3 pints or 6 1/2 pints.   Boil your jars, lids, and utensils (slotted spoon, ladle, funnel). Using a slotted spoon and a canning funnel,  fill and pack the jars with the peppers. You will need to pack down the peppers a bit.

Boil the liquid to reduce for 6 minutes.  Ladle into the jars . Use a poker to work out any air bubbles. Add more liquid leaving 1/4″ headspace (maybe more like 3/8″).  Put on the lids and bands.

Process in boiling  for 10 minutes for 1/2 pints and 15 minutes for the pints after it returns to a boil.

Remove from the water, re-tighten the bands and set aside to cool.

These should sit for a month before using.  Today we made 36 half pints and 8 full pints (one lid blew off in the water bath otherwise we would have 9). This took about 6-7 hours.

All times start after hitting a full rolling boil. This recipe is not a complete guide to home canning. For more info look up info from various University extensions such as: https://fyi.uwex.edu/safepreserving/recipes/  or get the Ball Blue Book of canning.

 

 

 

Blueberry Banana Bread

One of our favorites is Blueberry Banana bread. Whether mid-summer with fresh picked berries (like today) or thawed berries from the freezer, it is delicious.

Today we tried a new variation substituting apple sauce instead of the shortening. The result was even more flavorful AND the blueberries were evenly distributed, rather than weighted towards the bottom. Contrary to popular belief, coating them with flour does not make much of a difference.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c apple sauce    (original had 1/2 c shortening)
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 jumbo eggs
  • 3 large ripe brown mushy bananas, mashed  (if you can’t smell them from across the room, they are not quite ripe enough for optimum flavor)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 T vanilla extract (the good stuff)
  • 2 1/4 C flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c buttermilk, sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 chopped nuts (optional – Teal is allergic)
  • 1c fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter & flour 2 loaf pans. Place parchment paper (or brown paper like my grandma did) in the bottom of the pans. This helps the loaves come out cleanly without sticking

Mix ingredients until blended. Fold in the blueberries and the last 1/4 cup of flour at the end (if you mix them early they get smashed and the color is just plain wrong).

Pour the batter into the 2 loaf pans. Sprinkle the tops with 1 T Turbinado sugar per loaf.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. Check after 40 but make sure the center is getting done. Don’t be afraid to extend the cooking time by another 5-10 min.

Cool for 10 min in the pan, run a knife around the edges to loosen, and then turn out onto a rack to cool. Teal can do this neatly ending up with the loaves upright and intact, me not so much.

Compared to the original recipe with shortening, the edges are not as crunchy initially, but after a day or so it does not matter anyway as this is a very moist and dense bread. These will keep for a week or better in the fridge and freeze well.

Blueberries work well in many batter/ quick breads. We use them in zucchini, lemon poppy seed, rhubarb & apple breads.  With fresh berries mix them in and extend the cooking time by about 10%. Try the applesauce vs. fat in other recipes as well. Typically a 1 for 1 substitution by volume for quick breads and cakes works well.

3D Printing parts for the Printer



At this point the printer isl making more parts for itself. Teal (my wife) compared it to Frankenstein adding his own parts after he had an arm attached.

One of the first part sets was to make a case and mount for the display. The case turned out quite well, but the design of the bracket to mount it to the frame was unusable. So I will be searching for another or designing one myself.

The advantages of being able to walk away and let the printer just run and return to a safe state are huge. With the print head on the CNC router, I had to keep checking on the progress and shut it down at the end as the software could not control the print head heater . Now not only is it running and shutting down properly I get messages on my phone confirming the status. With Repetier host https://www.repetier.com/, you can add an app to your phone, Repetier Informer, and get notifications of start, stop, faults and progress (among others). So today as I was again multitasking,getting the spring gardening done and wandering about the yard, I was getting notifications so I could check up on the printing status while finishing the placement of 20 yards of wood chips and propagating many perennials. This was to gain more flower beds with perennial plantings and reduce lawn area and Buckthorn thickets. I was doing my Earth Day yard work.

Today the printer was making cable chain. I am not sure if this a good trade-off of time vs cost. Cable chain is used to make a nice flexible assembly to hold your wires / cables for moving devices. For the CNC router  I bought the cable chain from an eBay supplier in China. For the 3D printer, the printer itself is making the cable chain links but I have to do the part clean-up and fitting. The printing is not yet tuned in well enough to avoid a lot of hand work on these parts.

Spool holder to hold the filament spool while printing.: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1959643/#files.  This replaces the ugly aluminum rod seen earlier in the photos and removes obstructions. This is a very nice and simple, functionally designed part. “Frankenstein printer” did well on making this appendage.

Cable chain. This supports the wires going to print head in a neater manner than the spiral wrap. I am using the part designs from: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:611593/#files . I wanted cable chain that would be open on top so I do not have to re-run the wires in the frame with the need to then disconnect re-connect everything for the print head. We will see how this turns out. The notches look like they will need some fiting for the snake shaped cable retainers (cable ties bay do instead). Cable chain parts are slow to print . A set of 16 links takes about 5 hours. Then there is some tedious hand work to clean up the parts and make them fit together well. I think 2 sets of 16 links, plus the end parts should suffice for the print head cable chain. Here is the first set of links fitted together, roughly straight and as a U.


Salsa Day

It is now late summer and we are blessed with an overabundance of tomatoes and peppers. It is always hard to predict how well they will do so we plant 12+ of each. This summer things have gone well with plenty to eat and give away. However, much of the summer has been hot and dry and recently we have had a lot of rain. This causes the tomatoes to split and rot if not picked aggressively. This means we have gallons of tomatoes, Yellow pears, orange and red cherries up through some really nice beef steaks (Romas were a bust).  For peppers we have loads of  sweet bananas, cubanelas (sweet), jalapenos and a decent number of poblanos.

Last weekend we made tomato sauce and this weekend is salsa. Low 70s temp and rainy so it was a perfect day to be in the kitchen.

Our oldest daughter Jessie brought up the idea canning of Pineapple – tomato salsa . This sounded interesting but there are few recipes available. However we found one on Taste of Home: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/spicy-pineapple-salsa and modified it slightly.

NOTE: canning of salsa is one of the more risky endeavors and you need to follow well documented and tested recipes. This is not a time to risk a “pinterest fail” and be poisoned with botulism.  Don’t just take my word for it, read up on several of the University extension web sites prior to doing this for proper safety procedures such as:

  • http://learningstore.uwex.edu/assets/pdfs/b3570.pdf
  • http://www.extension.umn.edu/food/food-safety/preserving/tomatoes-salsa/canning-tomato-based-salsa-safely/
  • http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/sensational_salsa.pdf

D3U_8702

I really have to give credit to my wife Teal. She cleaned and chopped gallons of tomatoes today. On top of it she doesn’t eat tomatoes, salsa or pineapple (unless blended with rum and coconut).  We ended up with 29 jars of salsa.

Our final version was close to the original but we went for roasting the pineapple and jalapenos as well as draining the pineapple to make it thicker. Final cooled sauce pH test with pH test paper came in at between 3.5 and 4 .well under the 4.6 required for safety.

So here is our version:

5 lbs tomatoes chopped – Yellow pear, orange sungolds, yellow plum

2 large yellow onions chopped

2 sweet banana pepper chopped – preferably ripe and reddish if you have them

1 can 12-18 oz crushed or chunk pineapple  – drained (save juice for the rum drinks later)

1 can chunk pineapple roasted on skewers on the grill – go for caramelization – not black – beware it sticks badly

1 can (15oz) tomato paste.   If only there was yellow tomato paste – the color would be better.

2 large sweet banana peppers seeded and chopped

2/3 c roasted, skinned , seeded and chopped jalapenos and / or poblanos – go for a nice dark roast and bubbly skin

1/3 c cider vinegar

1 Tablespoon  salt (you can always add more later depending on your chips)

6-8 large garlic cloves minced (about 2/3 bulb of garlic)

2 tsp fresh ground cumin (seeds in your mortar and pestle – none of the pre ground stuff)

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Mix and cook at a hard boil for 15 min.. Stir frequently. If you want a smoother consistency (as we did ) use a stick / immersion blender to smooth it out near the end of cooking (yes it will clog up but just shake the skins off).

Pack into pint jars and boiling water process for 15 min.

Enjoy.

We made a bunch of conventional tomato salsa as well – that recipe will be a subsequent post .