Weekly Garden/Nursery Update September 17th and What can you do with a ton of peppers?

Greetings.  I’m hoping the gardening season continues to treat you well.  Here at the garden/nursery some things are wrapping up, like tomato season.  We have a few tomatoes still on really raggedy and blighted plants, and probably once those ripen that will be it for the year as far as tomatoes go.  Peppers are still cranking out, and I plan on discussing some ways we’ve used an amazing abundance of peppers.  We’ve also started some fall seeds, but not much.  This year we have some lettuce, some cilantro, some culantro, and there is some kale in the ground from the spring that we’ll start eating after the first frost.  We’re also looking into putting a self-fertile, dwarf or semi-dwarf peach or pear tree in the front yard.  I’m hoping to do that within the next couple of weeks and update with pictures.  

As far as the nursery goes, right now our minds and efforts are on spring.  Next spring, along with veggie starts like we had this year we plan on having perennials and shrubs and perhaps more.  I’m propagating a couple kinds of arborvitae, munstead lavender, cranberries and lingonberries, bush cherries, and more.  I also plan on having some offerings that I purchase wholesale, so if you have any plants that you’re interested in for next year let me know.  If you want a quantity too I can help you find plants at wholesale prices.  I’m also seed shopping for vegetable varieties that are new, different, or heirloom.  I’m super excited about some of the new stuff we’ll be growing next year.  

Back to gardening, so we’ve had a ton of peppers this year.  We have 4 jalapeno plants, 3 thai dragons, 2 habaneros, 2 habanadas, 1 panamanian creole, and 1 carolina reaper.  Almost all of these plants have been dumping out lots of ripe chilis every day.  Poor me, I know, what a terrible problem to have.  We’ve got to use these peppers.  Don’t get me wrong, we’ve given some away, but most family, friends, and neighbors have plants (that came from us) and also have their own abundance of the same peppers.  How do we handle this terrible problem of being inundated with peppers?  Well, we have a few ways.

Bowl full of ripe red and yellow habanero peppers
Habaneros ready to be made into hot sauce

Asides from eating the peppers fresh, cooking with them, and making recipes like Jalapeno poppers, we’re utilizing them in a few ways.  

Hot sauce

With some of the (yellow) thai dragon peppers, I made this Sriracha style hot sauce recipe. Don’t get me wrong, I love the stuff with the rooster on the bottle, but homemade with fresh peppers it is so much better than the stuff in the bottle.  

I also experimented with a fermented hot sauce.  I tried to do this last year, but the lid got mold on it and I tossed the batch.  This year I bought some special fermentation lids so that I didn’t have to open the jars to release the gasses, and the sauce came out really well.  I was inspired by this recipe, but I made mango habanero instead of pineapple habanero.  The resulting sauce was fantastic!  At first sweetness, but then an intense and salty heat hits you.  It’s really great.  

If you’re interested in making hot sauce, there are many videos on Youtube, but I also like the website Chili Pepper Madness.  They have extensive guides on how to make hot sauces and many other spicy recipes.  

Fermentation

Our jalapeno plants produced so many beautiful pods that I wanted to pickle some for the winter.  I could have done a quick pickle with some salt and vinegar, but hey, there’s no fun without microorganisms, right?  I used the same fermentation lid and spring combo that I used to make the fermented hot sauce and pickled the jalapenos through fermentation.  The process was easy.  

Place your jar packed with jalapenos on your kitchen scale and zero out.  Fill with water and record water weight (in grams).

Multiply water weight by .03.  This number, in grams, is how much salt you’ll need.  Strain water into bowl, mix with the salt and stir to dissolve.  

Return the salted water to the jar with jalapenos (or any veggie you’d want to ferment for that matter) and use fermentation weight or spring to keep vegetables submerged in brine. Screw on lid and allow to ferment at room temperature at least 7-10 days or longer.  

Once you open it, put on a regular jar lid and store in the refrigerator for a very long time.  There are pickling techniques that don’t involve fermentation, and depending on how many more jalapenos we get I may pickle some of those in vinegar as well, but we haven’t yet.    

Quart mason jar filled with jalapenos cut into rings with a steel spring coming from the lid keeping the jalapenos submerged in the brine.
Jalapenos fermenting: These will be great to have around after pepper season in the garden is over!

Freeze

Another easy way to preserve a bumper crop, freeze the peppers.  I have enough frozen peppers that when I run out of hot sauce I’ll be able to make another couple batches.  Freezing is easy and self explanatory, but my process.  Rince peppers with cold water.  Dry.  Place in a freezer bag.  Seal and forget.  

Salsa

I found this recipe courtesy of Rick Bayless that has been a great way to utilize habaneros.  It is hot stuff and a little goes a very long way.  The only thing I did different with this recipe is adding some cilantro, which I loved.  We also made the same salsa with habanada peppers, so basically the same thing minus the heat.  It was also great, and we added it to loaded nachos, beans, and much more.    

On top of the above methods we’ve been adding peppers to all kinds of dishes fresh, and making things like jalapeno poppers.  What about you?  What do you do with an abundance of peppers?  If you have a great way to use lots of peppers, please let me know in the comments below!   

Published by scottmeneely

Gardener passionate about organic gardening, fresh food, sustainable landscaping, home brewing, and much more! Our nursery also includes my wife and 2 kids. We work together, learn together, and travel together. My wife is Panamanian and we try to grow lots of good Latin American ingedients. We live in Baldwin, Pennsylvania in the South Hills of Pittsburgh.

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