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What to do with too many hot peppers

September 2013
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My pepper plants have been quite prolific this year. I went a bit overboard on the planting thanks to a very generous donation from a researcher on campus who had too many young plants. I planted several varieties of serrano, poblano, habenero and jalapeno (not to mention my sweet peppers). I have a pepper problem. Peppers seemed to have found incredibly favorable conditions this growing season. When you visit the market, you will see peppers in all varieties and colors.

I’m somewhat of a food preservation junkie. I can things, I dry things, I freeze things. I preserve as much as I can during the growing season to enjoy during the winter months. But, this year I have peppers in such overwhelming abundance that it frightens me. What could I do with so many peppers? My friends and family aren’t biting. I’m not sure they enjoy my enthusiasm for spice. I was thinking I would have a freezer full of peppers, or worse they would end up in the compost pile.

hot sauce

Home-made hot sauce. Look what I made!

Then I stumbled across this on the epicurious website – a recipe for fermented pepper sauce. I, the consumate pepperhead, was ecstatic.

You are saying, “Fermented? Eww.” Do not be afraid. Like the chef says, fermentation is hip! Who am I to go against “hip”? I picked a mixture of lovely red-ripe serranos and yellow habenaros (or it may be the ghost pepper- my tags are missing). The process is simple. You may want to wear gloves, although the first step didn’t require me to mess with them too much. Blend up about a pound of peppers with a 1/2 cup of water (use recipe above). Add 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt. Put in jar with a cloth or paper cover. Check your concoction every other day. The mold is not bad, it is natural. Remove it. Leave it alone, except for the skimming for about 10 days. Then blend with 2 cups cider vinegar, strain, and bottle. Easy Peasy. There is the added bonus of sinus-clearing fumes. Open a window, if you are sensitive.

Keep it refrigerated. I tested the pH on mine and it was well below the level required for acidified foods to be safe. However, the recipe says refrigerate, so I shall.

Oh and by the way, it is awesome! This pepperhead approves. With this first test batch proven, I will be making more. Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas!

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