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Putting It Mildly

September 13, 2013

The preserving continues, its high pepper season here, and I am stuffing the freezer with these delectable beauties as they ripen.  No blanching required, just wash, remove stem and seeds, cut into the form you want, and freeze.  We consume peppers like apples when they are ripe, because there just is nothing like a ripe pepper.  Come winter, they taste pretty good too from the freezer, so we grow quite a few.  Besides being a regular snack or appearing in meals, many peppers have made their way into salsa, and I have let the Padrons ripen so I can make my hot sauce.  Quick! Send in the Guernsey!  I need milk, those Padrons are HOT!  But, as you can tell from the photo above, most of these are mild, sweet peppers.

Peppers - 4-24-13

Peppers – 4-24-13

Peppers do like heat though, so this is a crop I have to coddle quite a bit until it’s time to “plant out.”  Planting out here on the mountainside means, in my greenhouse.  A necessary evil if I am to get certain warm weather crops to ripen and flourish.  This year is an exception, I probably could have planted my tomatoes, melons and peppers outside and got a bang-up crop.  But, as longtime readers know, I am raising my food, not just gardening.  I don’t like to spend all the time from seed to fruit, only to have a crop failure.  Heaven knows, that can happen anyway.

Most of our frozen pepper stash consists of the strips for dishes like fajitas, and strips require much less chopping.  We freeze these on jelly roll pans and then bag when they are frozen solid.  Even though I am not too keen on freezing in plastic, due to the volume of peppers we go through, I freeze these in gallon bags and shake out what I need for a recipe as needed.  The Pimiento peppers are frozen whole for stuffing later.  I use the same treatment, just a quick freeze so I can drop them in a bag, and later I can fish a few out for stuffing with cheese, or…the possibilities are endless.

Pepper key

Pepper key

To simplify my gardening tasks I have really cut back on the varieties of peppers that I grow.  I am sure it’s not proper recipe etiquette to swap pepper types in recipes, but hey, I’m a farmer not a chef.  Hot and sweet do the trick, and by “stacking” my uses of a particular variety, I can simplify my gardening and seed saving a bit.  A perfect example of how I use stacking with my peppers, is growing Padron, a spanish pepper usually known for tapas.  We eat them for summer lunches a lot, and one year when we couldn’t keep up and they turned ripe red, I used them in my hot sauce recipe.  All I care for is some heat, ripe Padron fills the bill in that regard and saves me time. I don’t have much room for peppers and if one can supply more than one use I am happy to experiment.  This year I grew all repeats, no one is new.

Pepper notes from my garden journal:

Numex Joe E. Parker – Prolific mild Anaheim, original seed from Johnny’s, farmstead seed since ’96.  Excellent frozen for rellenos.  I use to spend a lot of time roasting these peppers, and now have found that I don’t mind the skins as much as I mind the roasting and sweating.  I just halve, seed and freeze.

FlavorburstF1 – I defer to Johnny’s for hybrid type seeds that perform well for northern growers, and Flavorburst is a great pepper to grow.  Lots of sweet, big, thick-walled peppers.  Hands down almost our favorite sweet pepper.

AceF1 – Another Johnny’s recommendation, it’s okay for a red pepper and more productive in my conditions than any other red bells I have grown hybrid or OP.

Padron – Big productive plants with heavy fruit set, they keep us in mildly hot peppers for the entire pepper season.  Original seed from Johnny’s, farmstead seed since 2005.

Red-Ruffled Pimiento – Our favorite sweet pepper!  Thick walled, large, sweet and productive.  What else is there?  Original seed from Seeds of Change, farmstead seed since 2002.  If I ever quit growing hybrid sweet peppers, this variety would be my go-to sweet pepper.

Peppers are a great addition to any garden big or small, and choosing a productive variety can help keep you in peppers for the entire season.  Think of pepper dishes you like to prepare and select a variety to grow that can replace peppers you buy.  Even gardeners and preservers with limited space can stock up a little at time by freezing the surplus as it comes, continual picking and care will keep your peppers producing and many times folks bring the plants inside for winter and are able to continue harvesting long past that dreaded first frost.

Mild or hot, growing your own peppers can be very rewarding, and before you know it those seed catalogs will be arriving for next years garden planning.  Where did this garden season go?

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris permalink
    September 13, 2013 7:06 am

    Gorgeous peppers! Will you share your hot sauce recipe? Nita Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers!! 🙂

    • September 13, 2013 7:55 am

      Chris, they are aren’t they? They are adding a lot of color now to the greenhouse!

      I won’t share my recipe just because it is from an old canning book, and I don’t want to perpetuate some recipe that may or may not be safe. It’s basically a hot sauce similar to Tabasco but not fermented, it uses vinegar but I still don’t want to post it in case it isn’t really safe. I would sniff around for some recipes for pepper sauce you could refrigerate and go from there.

  2. Carol permalink
    September 13, 2013 7:47 am

    I looked up Padron and they only have one pepper beside the description for heat – are they very hot?

    • September 13, 2013 7:57 am

      Carol, I put them to the pup test, I cut one and offer the stem end to the dogs, if they look away, it’s HOT, if they want to eat it, it is mild. They love the mildly hot peppers as much as the sweets. K9 Pepper Patrol!

  3. Chris permalink
    September 13, 2013 8:05 am

    Oh bummer…I was hoping for a good hot sauce recipe…preferable one you don’t have to process! 🙂

    • September 13, 2013 9:53 am

      Chris, I do process mine, so the type of recipe you’re looking for should be in abundance. I don’t have to process, but I do because fridge space is at a premium, and theoretically if you ferment you shouldn’t need to refrigerate…but…here is a good one recipe that I’ve used before, and you can adjust the heat by the type of pepper you use.

  4. September 13, 2013 8:10 am

    These look wonderful. I have been struggling to grow peppers in my garden. They just won’t grow but last year I got peppers from my Jimmy Nardelo pepper plants. I did not get a chance to start any this year though and just bought some bell peppers from wal-mart which of course haven’t produced 😦

  5. susan permalink
    September 13, 2013 9:07 am

    That Red Ruffled Pimento is a beautiful pepper! Thanks for the reviews – and for the seed sources. I have been looking for a mildly hot pepper and Padron sounds like just the one.

  6. September 13, 2013 9:40 am

    Local peppers did not do well this year, and I remember fondly all the freezing I did when I could get peppers at 69 cents a pound in season. The farmers market is really hit or miss – even now. The local grocery chain is selling local (hothouse) peppers at $1.99 *each*!

  7. Barb in CA permalink
    September 13, 2013 8:28 pm

    Absolutely beautiful on your blue fiestaware!

  8. September 14, 2013 12:48 am

    What a beautiful photograph. The colors just leap out and make me want to eat them.

  9. September 21, 2013 2:40 am

    I loves me some peppers, and yours are beautiful! I may try that ruffled pimento next year, and the Flavorburst, too. I’m a big fan of Johnny’s (naturally, being a Mainer) and one of my favorites is their Carmen Italian type pepper. We had a cool wet spring here so peppers got off to a slow start, but my plants are loaded with green Carmen peppers and they produced quite a few red ripe ones, now long eaten, too. I guess one advantage of our cool summer is that I’m planning on my big pepper roasting session today, when the temps will be in the upper 60s and the air is dry.

    • September 21, 2013 5:45 am

      Ali, I think I need to try Carmen again, it didn’t do well for me in the past, but it’s worth a try I think again. I have to say I’ve gotten the highest quality of seeds from Johnny’s year after year. The other companies I buy from not so much, either mislabled or bad looking seeds, or poor performance.

      Happy Roasting!

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