Thursday, October 28, 2010


Fall comes around here and chiles follow. I've been busy, too busy for words, but I've got a few recipes to share.

(From top left: Chilhuacle Negro, Dedo de Moca, Chile Rallado, Aji Panca (orange form), Pimento, Bishop's Crown aka Chapeu de Frade)

(Much hotter than I expected: Either Tobago Seasoning or Datil Sweet. I mixed up the tags, so I'm not sure which it is.)

(I purchased this seed from a fellow Seed Savers member who identified it as an orange form of Aji Panca. I'm not sure that is what it is, but I am certain it is a Capsicum baccatum, and it is beautiful, productive, and delicious, so I'm keeping it!)

The chile peppers' names read like a fragrant, tongue tingling poem:

Aji Panca Chapeu de Frade Datil Sweet
Chile Rallado Ancho Rojo Pimento
Pimente de Barcelona Zavory
Fish Tobago Seasoning Red Ruffled
Chilhuacle Negro Roberto's Cuban

Sweet Chile-Garlic Sauce

Many props go to Linda Ziedrich, author of The Joy of Pickling in which this recipe appears, who, when I emailed her about hot-water canning this recipe, replied promptly and helpfully. She actually replied to my email. I'm a fan for life. This is a delicious dipping sauce for eggrolls, grilled meat, and many other good things. A friend emailed me recently with the following suggestion: "You know what Christina's chile-garlic dipping sauce is really good with? In-N-Out fries, that's what!" It's sweet, hot, and very, very garlicky. Yum.

You will need:

1 cup cider vinegar

1 cup water

2 cups organic sugar

2 teaspoons pickling salt

1/4 cup minced garlic

1/4 cup Southest Asian Chile-Garlic Relish (see my post here for the recipe)

To make the sauce:

Bring all ingredients but the last to a boil in a large, heavy pan. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt crystals. Boil the mixture gently for about 30 minutes, or until it begins to thicken slightly.

Stir in the relish and increase the heat to medium-high to bring it to a rolling boil. Boil the mixture for about 2 minutes, or until it reaches 230 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.

Pour it into sterilized jars, and this is what Linda Ziedrich wrote in an email to me about hot water bath canning the sauce: "You could certainly can it; it's really like a soft pepper jelly. A five-minute bath in sterilized jars, or 10 minutes in unsterilized jars, should do it. In fact, this sauce should keep for a long time at room temperature even without the hot-water bath."

Makes about 1 1/2 delicious, sticky, garlicky cups.

Sweet Heat Jelly

The Ball Blue Book (not the Blue Balls Book, get your mind out of the gutter, c'mon!) provides a recipe for jalapeno jelly that suggests pureeing the jalapenos and adding green food coloring, but I like little gems of chile suspended in the naturally-colored amber jelly, AND, I prefer the medium heat and complex flavor of the orange Aji Pancas, spiced up just a bit with a very hot Chile Rallado. The proportions of the recipe below are the nearly identical to the Ball Blue Book (minus the food coloring), but the recipe differs in the process. This jelly is fantastic with cream cheese and crackers or toast. A friend recommends it on cornbread.

You will need:

3/4 pound finely minced ripe, medium-hot peppers (I leave a few of the seeds in for flavor and interest, but remove most)

2 cups cider vinegar

6 cups organic sugar

2 three ounce packages of liquid pectin

To make the jelly:

Combine the peppers, vinegar, and sugar, and stir over medium heat until the sugar crystals dissolve. Bring the mixture to a boil and let boil for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Do not let the sugar brown.

Stir in both packages of liquid pectin, then return to boil, and keep at a hard rolling boil for 1 minute, stirring all the while.

Remove from heat and carefully ladle into sterilized jars. Process for 10 minutes in a hot-water bath.

This recipe makes 2 1/2 pints of spicy, tangy, sweet sunshine-y jelly.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Yup. It's Fall.

Two two-year-old apple trees are giving me fruit:

1) Golden Russet:

(Please excuse the missing slice. I couldn't wait to taste it before photographing it.)

This apple wears leiderhosen and gold. In summers like ours, when the sun can dry sweet peppers on the plant and turn grapes to raisins in a day, leiderhosen may be what this apple, hailing from New York sometime before 1845, needs. My young tree gave me three beautiful, squat fruit; Emilio and I have eaten two, and one, heavy on its small branch, still hangs on the tree. While the texture of the two we've tried hasn't been perfect, perhaps a bit corky but not at all mushy, the flavor was amazing: spicy, tangy, winey, complex. This isn't a grocery store apple, nor an overly sweet Fuji (though those have their place). This is an apple that tastes like a season.

2) Wickson:

Blushing like a feverish child, Wickson is small, sweet, snapping with juice and intense flavor. Albert Etter, friend and scientific successor to Luther Burbank and student of Edward Wickson, developed this apple, a cross between a Spitzenberg Crab and a Newton Crab, sometime in the 1940s. It's a true California apple, but tastes like it has roots in Maine or Normandy. It is, according to every source I've read about it, the premium apple for a single-variety cider. There are only eight apples on my little tree this year, but I'm already reading up on cider press plans.

I wish I could have known the apple's creator. In the absence of time travel, I'll be satisfied with this gift he's passed down to me through time.


If you'd like to see what other people across the world are harvesting this time of year, join the Harvest Monday party at Daphne's Dandelions.