Sunday, August 28, 2016

When life gives you hot peppers...

Last week I harvested a handful of banana peppers and, as I always do, stuffed them with cheese and ran them under the broiler. One bite later, I realized that I had made a terrible mistake: I planted HOT banana peppers, not the mild ones that I normally grow.

And the plant was producing peppers like crazy. I was in a pickle about what to do with them. Then I remembered that I was almost out of our Wild Carrot Farm pepper butter, the secret ingredient that I put in my pimento cheese. I had been meaning to stop by my neighbor's farm, just up the road, and buy a case of his locally famous pepper butter. Instead, I decided to make my own.

A quick google search revealed a number of recipes, none of which included butter, but most of which did included a tablespoon or two of flour. A few of the recipes mentioned that one should probably not use flour in recipes that are canned, but they did so anyway. I have a mortal fear of killing my beloveds with foods that I home can, so I researched some more and found a recipe that uses something called Clear Jel, in place of flour. I ordered a bag of it, picked my peppers, and set to work chopping the peppers and discarding the stems and seeds. I added two red pimento peppers to the mix, just for their pretty color.

I pureed the peppers and then added them to a pot and simmered with some white vinegar, mustard, sugar and a bit of salt. I added in the Clear Jel and let the mixture thicken before filling small jar and placing them in the canning pot of boiling water for processing.

I'm quite pleased with the results. The pepper butter is tangy and not too hot. I added a teaspoon to today's lunchtime chicken salad and it gave it just the right amount of oomph. I may even try a dab or two on our pork chops tonight.  And I'm planning to use another scoop of it tomorrow to make some pimento cheese for our Meatless Monday lunch.

So, the next time life gives me hot peppers, I'll know what to do with them. In fact, I may intentionally plant some next year just so I can restock my pantry with homemade pepper butter.

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