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Chipotle Pepper Hot Sauce

Chipotle Pepper Mash and Sauce

What’s better than homemade hot sauce? Homemade chipotle pepper hot sauce! Smokey hot goodness in a bottle.

Last year I sold various fermented items at my local farmers market and my hot sauces sold like wild fire. Even though I’m not selling at the market this year, I still have people asking  begging for more hot sauce. It’s good stuff. My most popular sauce was this chipotle pepper hot sauce. It sold faster than I could make it.

It’s hard to keep up with demand up north here because peppers aren’t not the easiest thing to grow during our short warm season.  This year has been especially trying since it’s been abnormally cold. So far, most of my ripe peppers have come from gardens with hoop houses and high tunnels. I ended up picking all of my peppers a couple weeks ago. We had 2 nights where it dropped to 32F killing my plants. I put the green peppers in paper bags and they’ve been ripening up just fine. Enough for me to make a few small batches of red pepper mash.

What Kind of Peppers Should I Use

You can use most any hot pepper to make hot sauce. Jalapeños are great because they are a very fleshy pepper and make a nice thick sauce. Thai peppers and similar smaller peppers don’t work quite as well because they have thin flesh. Using a mix of different peppers works great. Scotch Bonnets or Habaneros make a great sauce too (remove seeds for a less fiery sauce if you would like).

For the chipotle peppers, this is the kind I have, Frontier Whole Chipotle Peppers. They are whole, dried chipotle peppers. You can substitute chipotle chili powder or canned chipotle peppers just fine. Chipotle peppers are smoked red jalapeños. Because they are smoked, they have no live lactic acid bacteria on them to help the ferment get started. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure your pepper mash contains about 3/4 fresh peppers and only 1/4 smoked peppers. So if you want to scale the recipe up or down, keep that ratio in mind; 1/4 smoked peppers to 3/4 fresh.

How Much Salt?!

My pepper mash and chili sauce has more salt than most recipes I see out there. Peppers are much more prone to mold than other veggies so to keep mold at bay, you need more salt. And because there is so much more salt, it takes longer to ferment. You might not see the signs of fermentation that you normally see. The mash sometimes doesn’t heave and you might not see a lot of bubble activity.

The rule of thumb I use for pepper mash is 1 oz of salt per 1 lb of peppers. So if you have 2 lbs of peppers, use 2 oz of salt. Easy peasy. Now my recipe below might not be exactly 1 lb. Don’t shoot me. If you are concerned about the recipe being exact, weigh your fresh peppers with the rehydrated chipotle pepper. The potential difference in weight I felt wasn’t enough for me to adjust the recipe. Keep it simple.

Chipotle Pepper Hot Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 oz unrefined salt (sea salt or himalayan salt is best)
  • 3/4 lb hot peppers
  • About 4-6 dried chipotle peppers, rehydrated (can sub 2 tbsp chipotle chili powder)
  • boiling water, about 1 cup

Instructions

  1. Put on gloves. Don't forget the gloves!
  2. Put chipotle peppers in a small bowl and add boiling water, just enough to cover them. Cover and let set until peppers have cooled back down to room temperature. Reserve the liquid.
  3. Prepare you peppers by trimming off the stem. You can leave the tops on. For a more mild sauce, cut peppers in half and remove seeds and veins. You can adjust the heat of the sauce by add peppers with or without seeds. For a good medium sauce, use about 1/4 peppers with seeds, 3/4 without seeds.
  4. Roughly chop peppers and rehydrated chipotle peppers and add to food processor with salt and reserved liquid from chipotle peppers. Process until smooth.
  5. Pack pepper mash into an airtight jar (preferably with an airlock). There will a lot of air from the blending process so use a spatula to press it down, removing as much air as possible.
  6. Seal jar, don't forget to add water to your airlock if using one. Let set at room temperature for about 7-10 days.
  7. Move to cold storage, 32-55F.
  8. Now the hard part. The best sauce has been allowed to age at least a year. You can use the pepper mash sooner than a year but I would suggest letting it age as long as you can stand.
  9. Use pepper mash as is or run through a food mill to make chili sauce.
  10. Sauce will keep for at least another year or so refrigerated.
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Roasted Tomatoes with Cheese

Roasted Tomatoes with Cheese

It’s finally that time of year when the tomatoes are beginning to roll in. I’ve been harvesting tomatoes every 2-3 days and I bring back a big bucket full of them eat time. I love this time of year. We live pretty far north so we usually don’t get ripe tomatoes until August. This year has been particularly cool so we didn’t get any ripe yumminess until the end of the month. But they are finally ripening up.

Each year I garden, I do a little experimenting with methods. Last year I had vining tomatoes that I pruned religiously and tied up. One bed was a regular tilled garden bed and the other was a “lasagna garden” method that used layers of mulch. The tilled garden did ok but mulch garden produced significantly more. I was planning on expanding my mulch garden this year but time got away from me. We ended up planting an herb garden, strawberry garden, and asparagus garden (don’t worry gardening experts, the asparagus was not planted where the tomatoes were. I know that’s a no no) in the mulch bed instead. I ran out of room for my tomatoes.

This year, we did go back to planting tomatoes in the tilled garden bed but instead of vining tomatoes (indeterminate), I bought bush tomatoes (determinate). I didn’t mean to buy all bushes. I just mixed up the terms indeterminate and determinate. Why can’t they just say vining or bush? I never get it right. So I planted bush tomatoes which ended up being a blessing because they need less care than vining tomatoes. This summer ended up being busier than I anticipated and I didn’t have as much time as I did last year to devote to gardening. With the bush variety, I didn’t have to worry about pruning as much. The only trimming I did was in August .I just plucked off  all the flowers because I knew there wouldn’t be time for them to turn into berries and ripen before the frost. The plants were then able to put more energy into the fruit they had on the vine. I also took off a few leaves so the sun could reach more of the tomatoes.

My plants are heavy laden with large beautiful tomatoes that are ripening at a steady rate. I think this will be my best yield yet.

Next year I plan on trying out a few beds using the straw bale gardening technique from this book Straw Bale Gardening.

Enough gardening talk. On to the recipe!

This is one of my favorite ways to eat paste tomatoes. A fleshy paste tomato like Roma, Amish Paste or San Marzano works the best for this recipe. I’ve tried it with the round tomatoes and they just end up a wet mess. They still taste good but the paste tomatoes hold up their shape better and the cheese is less likely to slide off since they lay fairly flat.

This is a ridiculously easy recipe, I almost feel silly writing it up. You can switch it up by using different cheeses. Cheddar and Swiss are great. I made these with gouda once and they were a big hit. Most any fresh or dried herbs work as well, oregano, basil, thyme, marjoram…

Roasted Tomatoes with Cheese

Ingredients

  • Paste Tomatoes
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Garlic Salt
  • Basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Turn oven on to a low broil. Move top rack down making sure there is at least 2" between the heating element and the tomatoes. You want to roast them, not incinerate them.
  2. Slice tomatoes in half and lay skin side down in a glass baking dish.
  3. Sprinkle the tops with garlic salt.
  4. Lay a slice of cheese over each tomato.
  5. Top with a couple leaves of basil.
  6. Place tomatoes in oven for about 7-10 mins, keeping an eye on them.
  7. Remove from oven once the cheese is slightly browned. Tomatoes should be hot but still firm.
  8. Serve warm.
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Milkweed Flower Fritters, Gluten Free

Milkweed Flower Fritters

One of my favorite past times is walking through our pasture and figuring out what all the wild plants are that are growing and then finding out if they are edible or not.  This last walk, we found wild mint, hops, rosehips, and milk weed.

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca and Asclepias speciosa are the edible species we have here) is one of my favorite edible “weeds” (it really is only a weed if it’s growing where you don’t want it to grow). It’s a beautiful plant with large fragrant flowers and it grows everywhere here. I’m in milkweed heaven. We live fairly far north so our season is a little later than most of the US. If you still have milkweed in bloom, awesome. If not, sorry, save this for next year. If you are just past the bloom and have pods, check out this recipe from Common Sense Homesteading for sautéed milkweed pods. Once I find some pods, we’ll be making this. **Please make sure you identify the plant correctly, see note below.**

Cautions: Not all milk weed species are edible. Use only those species and plant parts specified as edible and cook them according to the directions given for each plant part. Until they are cooked, even the edible species of milkweed contain chemicals toxic to people and other mammals – never eat any part of milkweed raw… Furthermore, milkweed juice can irritate the skin; wear cloves for picking or wash hands thoroughly.

Make certain that you have the right plant – some poisonous plants, such as the dogbanes (Apocynum species), closely resemble the edible milkweeds, especially at the shoot stage. Unless confident that you can tell these plants apart…ask an expert for help. Your county extension service or local weed board can provide information about the specific plants in you area.

…Take care not to disturb monarch butterfly caterpillars that may be feeding on the milkweed leaves. In recent years the number of these butterflies has greatly decreased due to the destruction of wilderness areas in Mexico where they overwinter – it would be a shame to cause them harm in their summer range as well.

~“Wild Seasons: Gathering and Cooking Wild Plants of the Great Plains” by Kay Young

I made these fritters last year and my family has just been waiting and waiting for the flowers to bloom this summer. It’s a once a year treat that we relish. I actually hemmed and hawed about making them this year, I don’t like getting the fryer out when it’s so hot. My husband took the initiative this year and made them while I told him what to do. I guess I had forgotten how good they were. They are worth heating the kitchen up for. We make a big batch using at least 20 flowers. 4 boys can pack away a lot of fritters. The recipe cuts in half just fine if you don’t want to make so many.

Note: A reader pointed out to me that monarch butterflies depend on milkweed. Just use common sense and don’t pluck every flower you see. Save some for the butterflies. (Milkweed does reproduce through their roots as well as seeds produced from the flowers).

Fried Milkweed Flower Fritters

Fried Milkweed Flower Fritters

Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites
  • water
  • 1/2 cup flour (gluten free all-purpose flour works great)
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot flower (or cornstarch)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp sugar (we use sucanat)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle on finished fritters
  • Frying oil (I use lard, tallow or palm oil in my fryer)

Instructions

  1. Place 2 egg whites in a 2 cup measuring cup. Add enough water to make 2 cups. In a bowl, whisk until frothy.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Whisk in egg white mixture and stir until just blended.
  3. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour, up to 8 hours.
  4. Be sure you flowers are from the edible varieties stated above Prepare milkweed flowers by rinsing in water, getting any bugs off. We used about 20 milkweed flowers. Cut stem off right up to the flower so none of the stem remains.
  5. Cut the flower in half by snipping it at the base.
  6. Lay on a towel to air dry.
  7. After the batter has sat for an hour or so, heat up oil to about 375F.
  8. Dip flowers in the batter and fry until browned.
  9. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
  10. Sprinkle with a little sugar and cinnamon.
  11. Serve warm.
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Kombucha Tea Concentrate

Kombucha Tea Concentrate

These are my kombucha brewing vessels. Aren’t they amazing?! The first one is a toasted oak barrel made specifically for kombucha from Kombucha Kamp. The center handcrafted ceramic crock is also from Kombucha Kamp. The one on the end is a vinegar barrel I bought a few years ago which works great with kombucha. While both are great, I prefer the one from Kombucha Kamp because the opening on top is wider and the spout is located higher up which is more ideal for a continuous brewing system.

When I make kombucha, I go big. Really big. I have a family of 6 and everyone loves kombucha. Keeping up with 6 people drinking kombucha regularly can be a big task but with a big enough barrel and kombucha concentrate, it’s totally doable. So I make about 4 gallons of kombucha at a time in a 5 gallon oak barrel.

To make 4 gallons of kombucha, I need to brew 4 gallons of tea. I don’t have a pot large enough to do that, and making 4 separate brews just takes too much time and space. To save time and space, I brew this kombucha concentrate. 4 gallons worth of kombucha in 1 gallon.

Making the concentrate quickens up the tea making process as well. No need to wait for the tea to return to room temperature, just add cold water to the hot concentrate and use right away.

I use this tea concentrate to get my large system going and I also use it to whenever I need to add more tea to my system.  I usually harvest my kombucha once or twice a week (depending on when it tastes ready). Instead of brewing more tea every week, I just grab my concentrate and add water. It will last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. To make it last longer, freeze the concentrate in smaller portion sizes. I freeze mine in 1 cup portions so I can make any amount, 1 quart and up.

Tea Concentrate Ingredients

  • 24- 32 tea bags or 1/2- 2/3 cup loose leaf tea*
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 3 quarts filtered water

In a large pot, heat water and sugar to a boil. Turn heat off and add tea. Let steep for about 15 minutes. Remove tea bags. Pour tea into a 1 gallon container. Top off with more filtered water, if needed, to make exactly 1 gallon. Use right away or store in the fridge until ready to use. Will keep for up to 2 weeks. Freeze in 1 cup portions to extend the life of the concentrate.

*I recommend using at least 25% black tea to maintain a healthy SCOBY. If using green or white tea in addition to black tea, place different teas in a separate tea balls. Steep the green or white tea for only 3-5 minutes to keep the tea from getting bitter. Let black tea steep for 10-15 minutes. Adding herbal tea, or different types of tea like rooibos is perfectly fine. Steep for as long as recommended.

How to Use Tea Concentrate

You can use the tea concentrate to make any amount of tea desired using a 1:3 ratio, 1 part kombucha concentrate, 3 parts water. Adding water to the concentrate while it is hot will bring it down to room temperature. Don’t add hot concentrate to the SCOBY without diluting it with cold water first.

1 Quart = 1 cup kombucha concentrate + 3 cups water.

1 Gallon = 1 quart kombucha concentrate + 3 quarts water.

4 Gallons = 1 gallon kombucha concentrate + 3 gallons water.

Recap on How to Add Tea to Your Continuous Brewing System

If you are unfamiliar with continuous brewing systems, see my post on them here: Kombucha Continuous Brew System

To use this tea in your continuous brewing system, be sure to add 2 cups of starter per 1 gallon of reconstituted tea. For a 5 gallon barrel like mine, I add 4 gallons of tea plus 2 quarts (8 cups) of already brewed kombucha.

If you don’t have brewed kombucha on hand, you can use apple cider vinegar in place of the starter tea as long as it is not raw (just boil your raw ACV for a minute to kill off ACV producing bacteria).

Place your kombucha mother on top. If it ends up sideways or at the bottom, don’t worry, it’ll still work. It usually rights itself after a few days. If you are in need of a kombucha mother, find a friend who brews. They usually have some extra SCOBY’s. If you don’t have a kombucha making friend, Kombucha Kamp sells top quality kombucha SCOBYs along with some great brewing systems. They’ve produced beautiful kombucha for me over the last few years.

For ideas on how to flavor your kombucha, check out my kombucha page.


**This post may contain affiliate links. Purchasing from these links helps support Pickle Me Too, allowing me to post and store all of my free recipes. Thank you!**

Home on the Homestead

I asked on Facebook if ya’ll would be interested in reading about our adventures (or misadventures) in homesteading here on the blog. It was a pretty overwhelming yes. So, I’m going to try to do a weekly post about what we are doing.

I will warn you upfront. We are not vegan or vegetarian. We raise animals to butcher. They live a very happy life and meet a quick ending. Yes, I do believe killing animals can be humane. If you’ve ever seen the aftermath of a raccoon or mink killing, you would know nature can be very inhumane. I’m not going to avoid the subject of butchering animals because it is a very important part of our homestead. I will try to avoid posting any graphic pictures.

Continue reading Home on the Homestead


**This post may contain affiliate links. Purchasing from these links helps support Pickle Me Too, allowing me to post and store all of my free recipes. Thank you!**