We made our last batch of Cowboy Candy 2 years ago and are down to two 1/2 pints and one pint being left. This impending shortage along with the first (late) freeze of the year meant I had to harvest my peppers. I ended up with 2 gallon buckets and then some of peppers. Mostly a long jalapeno but also a few Caribbean red habaneros. This is not enough to do a batch, so I went to the Waukesha farmers market and bought out 3 vendors. One of them was surprised I really wanted all of the ripe jalapenos (ripe peppers are a critical ingredient). A final vendor provided a dozen orange habaneros.
Sunday morning arrived and so did the kids, Jessie, Elyse and David came with children in tow. We were arrayed around the kitchen table seeding and chopping the pile of peppers. I estimate it was 40-45 lbs overall, with about 30-35lbs when cleaned (we lost count of the 3 lb batches).
Duties were split with the kids doing the chopping, I was chopping and doing the hot processing of the jars. This was our second try at doing the hot / boiling water bath processing on the deck and it worked great! We were also smart enough this time to don the gloves from the start. Last time we had painful side effects for a couple of days (just think of every body part you may touch with your fingers that are soaked in capsaicin – ouch).
The Blichman Hellfire burner gets the kettle up to a boil quickly (>200K BTU/hr). This burner is designed for home brewing and double duty for canning. The Victorio canner also works well as a brew kettle. So, when considering what you need for brewing or home canning, keep in mind the dual uses. This would work with a turkey fryer and burner too.
The major advantages of brewing outside are just as rewarding for canning . Keep the steam, mess and boilovers outside as much as possible. The 4x4s under the burner are not so much a safety consideration but rather to help keep me from bending over quite so far.
Teal did the cooking and filling of the jars. She had 2 kettles going: one with the syrup for cooking the peppers and a second with the cooked down concentrate for filling the jars.
With the help and better sequencing of processing steps we were done in under 3 hours. This halved the time vs 2 years ago for an equivalent amount.
After the success of the first batch. I decided to make another larger one. This started with one of the big economy sized pork loins. With this round, I wanted to try more seasoning variations. So I cut it roughly into thirds, each seasoned differently.
2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes – no seeds – Super Cayenne
3 tsp freshly crushed fennel seeds
Initial fridge cure
Dry box weight
As before, after apply in the cure and spices, the meat went for 2 weeks in the crisper drawer in the fridge. Then it was wrapped in collagen sheet and trussed in butcher’s twine.
The meat was pulled from the dry box in early June and portioned out. Each stick was cut in half for freezing or eating.
Aging for another month in the fridge in a plastic bag, the color variation evens out and the flavor mellows even more.
Yesterday we had a party, with this thin sliced and served as one of the appetizers. After the initial fear of trying meat that had not been cooked subsided, the vote was unanimous – MAKE MORE! With the extra 6 weeks in the fridge, the flavors are even more mellow with a slight buttery note.
Next batch, I will probably dry to the 40-45% moisture loss point. At 50% it is a bit hard to cut and a little chewy. I will also up the seasonings for the pepper and Cajun by 50%.
We have made 2 more 18-20 lb batches as of 9/23/18. Each is as good as the last and leaves more room for experimenting with the spices.
It is definitely better to do the low temp smoke on a calm day. I am still having a bit of temp control trouble if windy as the Heatermeter does not yet have a damper. The problem is if the temperature spikes a bit, more fat renders off. With more fat on the fire, the temperature spikes and so on. Better if it can be held low and slow or you are a better tender of the smoker than I. Batch 3 was spiking on smoker temperature and was pulled at 3 hours. Batch 4 was kept low and slow for 4.5 hours.
The slabs of skinless pork belly we have been buying at Costco are in the 9-10 pound range. To best fit for smoking , they are sliced into thirds. We use a Large Big Green Egg with the 3 tier rack as you can see below. This was taken at the start of the smoking process.
4.5 hours later with the smoker temp at 190F, the internal tem is between 150F and 154F and has been there for the last hour. This is now food safe and pasteurized.
Net step is to refrigerate overnight, slice, bag and freeze. Ready for frying and raiding by the kids.
The first to go was the powder-room on the first floor. The old countertop came off easily. I had already installed shut-off valves for the faucet and had new a new P-trap and extensions ready as the drain holes would not line up.
I was able to carry this top by myself. Teal helped to guide it into position and hold it up while silicone seal was applied to the counter to glue it in place. We then carefully lowered it down and slid it the last little bit still at an angle. The backsplash is mosaic tile on top of Hardi backer board so that it is not too far recessed behind the marble pencil trim.
To drill the faucet hole I placed the template and clamped it down. This makes starting the ore drill / hole saw easy and prevents it from skittering around and damaging the top. I tried adding water but immediately sprayed out all over. Just place the vacuum nozzle nearby to catch the majority of the dust.
Similar process for the master bath. However when I pulled out the old tile top, the backsplash was about 1/4″ too low to fit over the new top. So I had to pull off the old tiles and broke two. Fortunately 24 years ago when I originally installed the tile I had saved the spares in a dark corner under the basement stairs. The old tiles needed a bit of clean up on the stationary belt sander. So now the”new” backsplash was installed and matches that around the shower.
Sinks are Kohler, the top faucet was a Kohler Toobie, and the master bath has a Hansgrohe. The savings on the tops paid for the tools and upgraded fixtures.
Funny point. Teal was sealing the granite and we wondered about using the sealer on the quartz. She looked it up and came away laughing. It is not needed as the only thing that stains it is permanent marker, which is why I had to polish off my measurement marks.
The kids got me a couple of Emile Henry ceramic bakers for my birthday. One is baguette pan and the other is a bread loaf pan. Today was the first trial of them. The bread was made in between all of the yard work and errands that needed to get done with our slow spring and sudden summer — 95F today.
This is based on the Multigrain sourdough recipe but I was out of the KAF Harvest Grains Blend. So to substitute I used the following mix which was soaked in the boiling water:
1/4 c poppy seed
1/4 c steel cut oats
1/4 white sesame seeds
1/2 c roasted / salted pepitas / sunflower seed mix (from Farm and Fleet)
The dough was a bit wet, I probably had too much water in the starter feed but then added more bread flour to make up. Again the dough was mixed and rested for 30 min before the kneading. First rise was 2 hrs at 76F (I had to run out and go get more herbs for the garden) . After rolling to shape, the top was brushed with water and the black sesame seeds were springkled on . Second rise was 1 hour at 100F.
Bake at 425 F for 33-38 min with the last 5 min uncovered.
YUM! Thank you: Jessie, Elyse and David for the bakers.
I am in the process of overhauling my website and postings. In the meantime you can find my old boatbuilding website here: Riviera Construction Project.
In the last few years I have been letting my projects, comments and photos get scattered. This has resulted in a mix of items on Facebook, columns I have written and various forums with the unfortunate consequence of not having a single place to go and find my prior posts which are located at:
Glen-l boatbuilding forum – I was active while building and did a column for the monthly newsletter for a few years
Wisconsin Woodworkers Guild – I wrote a monthly column while I was president.
Facebook – Lots of posts , notes and photo albums including the majority of my dive photos, but not very accessible to the general public
Youtube – I have a Youtube Channel that will be gaining more content. Currently mostly dive videos.
So now I will be consolidating everything back here. It will take some time to gather the various pieces back as well as get the new content posted.
The impetus for all of this is my newest project. It is a CNC router. This is another scratch built project. I want to document the build and resources as I did with the boat and not just have it in another web site’s forum.