The Milkweed Diaries

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Nightshade Preservation Projects...and Chickens

In my attempt to return to the practice of blogging, I'm just going to post a few recent food project pictures.
Wapsipinicon Peach Tomatoes

First up: Fuzzy Peach Tomato Salsa.  The velvety Wapsipinicon Peach tomato is so soft, fuzzy, sweet, and delicious.  It's a delicate, diminutive treasure of a tomato - terrible for market because it's so tender and easily bruised, but wonderful for the kitchen.

Inside a Wapsipinicon Peach
The Peach tomato makes great salsa, which you can either waterbath can or just pop in the freezer.  I made mine with onions, garlic, a couple of very hot Aurora peppers and some Mexican gerkin cucumbers I got from Andrea at the market. Yum.

Purple Aurora Peppers
Every spare moment these days is spent barely managing the ongoing tomato and pepper overload. Tomato sauce is the easiest way to dispense with a large quantity of tomatoes (like the 4 gallons pictured here) quickly.

The 4-gallon stock pot is in constant tomato action most weekend hours.
Bring it, basil and garlic.

Victorious! Coping with the tomato and pepper onslaught via  sweet pepper hash and  tomato sauce.
I've also socked away a bunch of sweet pepper hash, one of my perennial faves. Here's the recipe:

Sweet Pepper Hash
12 small onions
24 ripe sweet peppers of various varieties
2 cups honey
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs Salt

  • Peel the onions and remove the seeds from the peppers.
  • Chop the vegetables by hand or use a food processor to chop into relatively small pieces.
  • Put your chopped onions and peppers in a big bowl and sprinkle with the salt.
  • Pour boiling water over the vegetables and let stand for 15 minutes.
  • Combine the honey and vinegar in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  • Drain the peppers and onions and add to the boiling syrup.
  • Reduce heat and cook slowly for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, sterilize jars and lids in a boiling water bath
  • Pack into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.
  • Adjust lids and process for 5-10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

And then when there are still more peppers, I've resorted to roasting, roasting, roasting. Which makes the house smell amazing but gets tedious around hour 3 or 4 or so.

Roasted sweet peppers packed in olive oil ready to be piled
in the freezer with  rest of gigantic nightshade stockpile. 
And finally, a longer-term food project: the 6 week-old Welsummers and 15 week-old Speckled Sussexes that just joined the flock.  Bringing the total chicken count to fifty-five.

A Speckled Sussex pullet

Welsummer babies captured on video below...still photos just can't capture the cuteness of peeping.


Dana said...

Big up to you and your "special sauces!"
Also, the fluffy pink 3 legged unicorn was a big hit with my two year old twin visitors this past weekend.

Aimee said...

It's nice to see you back in action. I am sitting out this preserving season (I'm in Oaxaca with my family for a year: if you want to follow along) and I find that I really miss it!

One tip - I learned from my sister in law the absolute easiest way in the world to preserve small, fresh hot peppers (she uses a tiny wild variety that grows in her yard, but I'd try bird's eye or thai peppers). Just throw them whole into a narrow necked jar and add about a tablespoon salt per cup of peppers. Set in fridge. They eventually soften and probably ferment, making a soft, spreadable, super fiery sauce. If you cant find tiny fresh peppers, I dont see why roughly chopped serranos or cayenne wouldn't work as well.