One of our goals during the Eat Local Challenge this year has been to preserve as much local produce as possible so that we're able to sustain our regular local eating for a longer period of time. And, so far, we've put up quite the stash of edibles:
- 25 lbs of roasted Amish paste tomatoes
- 14 cups of roasted tomatillo sauce (with more to come)
- 10 lbs Italian Romano beans
- 15 lbs of roasted red peppers
- 50 lbs of Door County peaches
- 20 cups applewood smoked sweet corn
- 1/2 lb dehydrated Principe Borghese tomatoes
- 6 lbs raspberries
I should preface all that excitement by confessing that, for a good many years, I've harbored a very irrational (yet real) fear of canning. I have no idea where it came from, since my mother canned all sorts of delicious things when I was a girl -- tomatoes, peaches, pears, salsa, jelly, jam... You name it, my mom seemed to be able to can it. But me -- not so much.
About five years ago, I bought all of the supplies -- the jar grabber thingie, the magnetic lid picker-upper, the oversized funnel... but the items sat there down in the basement. Unused. And I'm not really sure why. The fact of the matter was, I wasn't really afraid I'd give anyone botulism. But, canning seemed... like such a pain.
CakeWalk last summer, I've wanted to try my hand at canning these peppers. We were lucky enough to be able to sample them when Rebecca brought corn bread made with the peppers to our Soup Night last February -- and we fell in love. I vowed to conquer my irrational fears of canning and make the best possible use of the jalapeno harvest in 2010 -- expressly to make these wonderful little sweet-hot wonders.
And so we did! I didn't, unfortunately, have enough peppers in my own little garden to equal the three pounds needed for the recipe. But, I was fortunate that Kay from Jen Ehr Family Farms did. Her peppers were fat and succulent looking -- with the tell-tale striations that always seem to belie a nice amount of peppery kick.
About 20 minutes with the mandoline yielded a large bowl filled with near-perfectly sliced jalapenos. And a few more minutes of cooking gave me the vinegary-sweet pepper-infused syrup that I'd need to get the canning process underway.
I'll admit I felt more than a little bit twitterpated by the thought of putting my (never used) canning supplies to work. And I was even more excited by the fact that the recipe seemed quite nearly fool-proof. Thanks to a few wise tips and lots of encouragement from Rebecca, I was on my way.
Of course, as I heard the water come to a boil in my canning pot, I also felt the butterflies mounting in my stomach. How exciting was this?? I was canning! And it was easy!
In the meantime, we'll be happily eating our lovely jars of candied jalapenos -- in corn bread, on pulled pork sandwiches, burgers... and strewn deliciously atop jerk chicken nachos. OH, YUM.
The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
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