Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Pint Of Pickled Peppers And Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes

pickled peppers

OK, it was more like 4 pints, but well short of a peck. This was hands-down the easiest preserving I've done so far, that didn't involve the freezer. I still love the freezer best of all. But these things, you just packed the raw, sliced peppers (either bell pepper strips or banana pepper rings), along with a slice of fresh ginger root, a clove of garlic, and a bit of salt, into hot jars. Then boil up a mixture of white wine vinegar, water, and sugar, and pour it over the peppers. All that's left is to seal the jars and process them for a few minutes in boiling water!

I'm definitely going to be making more of this recipe, using green bell peppers. You should, too. But only after you make the watermelon pickles.

ON THE OTHER HAND...if you get possessed by an urge to buy 50 pounds of tomatoes because the farmer is letting you have them for 50 cents a pound because he has so many at the moment, and you think how great it would be to have a basic tomato sauce made from fresh tomatoes on hand later in the year, and you decide to start MAKING TOMATO SAUCE FROM SCRATCH for water-bath canning (it should be noted that this is different than just making fresh tomato sauce for eating immediately or for freezing, because you must observe the pH balance of what you're canning if you're not using a pressure-canner) at 7:00PM on a weeknight, well, here's what you should do: You should slap yourself, HARD, across the face, then drive to the nearest grocery store and buy 20 cans of organic tomato sauce. There. I just saved you HOURS of aggravation, not to mention a superhot kitchen, a giant mess, and an aching back and sore feet.

Yes, there are 9 pints of homemade tomato sauce cooling in jars on my kitchen counter right now. NO, I will never, ever do this again. And I am currently so angry at tomatoes in general, that it will probably be mid-winter before I'll be able to stand the sight or smell of them again, so strong is the sense-memory that was forged during The Nightmare Of The Tomato Sauce. Tomatoes, you know, don't really WANT to make sauce. They want to make watery juice, and also a giant pile of inedible seedy guts, along with skin and a hard-as-a-rock core. You have to crush, mash, and boil the stupid things for HOURS to get them to sauce-form, while periodically smooshing a couple at a time through a sieve. I don't even want to THINK about what it's like to make tomato paste.

Next year's proposed "kitchen garden" may have just gotten a bit smaller, with the exclusion of tomatoes. We'll see if I've gotten over it by next spring.


  1. My mouth is hanging open in a stunned "wow, she really did that" kind of admiration.

  2. When you *do* get around to using the sauce, let me know how it tastes. But don't worry, I'll never try this at home.

  3. Been there done that on the homemade sauces. Your directions to go right out and slap yourself is right on. I'll never do it again, either.

  4. LOL Yeah, the tomato sauce thing is ridiculous. Next time try just canning the tomatoes. Lot less time and aggravation and they are wonderful for chili, vegetable soup and tomato dumplings.

  5. I just chop them up, let them boil down, swish em a little, add a little lemon juice, and waterbath can them. No botchulism or anything. Canning tomatoes was never was a big ordeal to me, and the most totally worth it part of gardening for us. Opening a jar of yellow tomatoes in the middle of winter, adding a little salt and Italian spices, and dumping it on pasta is literally what I do ALL of it for.

    Sorry it was a bummer for you. Was it because you were trying to get out all the seeds or straining it all? We don't do this, and the sauce is FANTASTIC.

    Don't let it bring you down, Belinda. Maybe try a different approach next time? Will there be a next time? LOL!

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