28 October 2010


We grew peppers this year. Chillies. Piments. Walt did it, really. And what a success! Now the question is: what do we do with them all?

The last time we had a good pepper crop was in 2004, the first year of our vegetable garden here in Saint-Aignan. We grew cayenne peppers — piments de Cayenne. There were a lot of them, and we packed them in vinegar. We're just finishing the last jar of them now. When we tried growing cayenne peppers in subsequent years, they were a failure. They never produced peppers the way they did in 2004... until this year.


And that's funny, because in other years, we had great crops of red bell peppers. In 2004 or 2005, I harvested the bell peppers and put 6 or 8 of them on the table in the kitchen. My mother was visiting. At some point, I noticed her in the kitchen carefully examining the bright, smooth red poivrons.

When I walked into the kitchen, Ma looked up at me and exclaimed: "They're real, aren't they? They're so pretty that at first I thought they were wax, or plastic." But that year, we didn't get any cayennes. Last year, 2009, when the vegetable garden was a great success, the peppers didn't produce at all. The plants were sickly.

The funny thing is that this year's bell peppers never turned red. We had only one plant, but it did produce at least 4 gigantic green peppers. I finally picked them last week. They were still green. Compare that to the bell peppers we grew in 2006.

...and green...

But back to cayennes. We grew those this past summer, and they did ripen. We also grew jalapeños and some other larger green peppers that we can't identify. Walt has already packed several jars of them, pints and quarts, in vinegar. That's the best way to keep them: Poke a couple of holes in each pepper with a skewer, pack the peppers into sterilized jars, pour boiling vinegar over them right up to the top of the jar, and screw on the lids while the vinegar is still burning hot. The jars will seal, and the peppers will keep indefinitely.

The vinegar the peppers have been pickled in is also good for making salsas or flavoring beans or greens at the table. It's good in Asian-style stir-fries, along with the chillies. You can pack either green or red peppers like jalapeños or cayennes this way.

... piments forts

At this point, we have enough pints of pickled peppers in the pantry — 9 or 10. So I'm going to try something else with the peppers I gathered last week as this, as I pulled out the plants ahead of the arrival of winter. I'm going to make pepper paste or hot sauce. The problem is, I haven't yet found a tempting recipe or method. Do I cook the peppers first? Put them up raw, either chopped or pureed? De-seeded, or seeds and all?

I'm going to try this method...
Habañero Pepper Paste

22 habañero peppers, seeded and minced
8 habañero peppers, with seeds, minced
1 cups water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 carrot, chopped
½ cup onion, chopped
¼ tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. ginger root, minced

Bring the peppers, vinegar, and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.

Stir in carrots, onion, cumin, garlic, and garlic. Continue cooking for 15 minutes.

Carefully puree the vegetables in a blender until smooth, then return to the saucepan, and continue simmering 45 minutes to 1 hour until thickened to the consistency of oatmeal.

When ready, refrigerate overnight before using.
...based on a recipe that I found here and have adapted slightly. I'll make it using Cayenne peppers.


  1. Ken, I like your idea of bottling chillies in vinegar. I might have a go at that. We have a good crop of chillies this year, too. In the past I have also frozen them.

  2. Q How do you determine how many “pints of pickled peppers in the pantry” are enough?

    A. Ask Peter Piper

  3. Thanks Bill! Can you consult him and let us know?

    Jean, do you freeze them raw or do you cook or blanch them first?

  4. Peter was rather vague about it when I consulted him. He just proclaimed that you should preferably have plenty of pints of pickled peppers packed in your pantry.

  5. Ken, I don't cook them first. Just wash and dry them, split them lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Cut large ones into smaller pieces. Lay them in a single layer on a tray in the freezer for a few hours until they are frozen then bag them in poly bags. I find small bags of a few chillies works best. Then you can just take out a few at a time as you need them.

  6. Ken, I agree with Jean on the freezing of chilis, but I'm even lazier. I've frozen poblanos and Hatch green chilis whole (no cutting or seeding) with good success, and I've done the same with the peppers you and Walt gave us.

  7. Ken, try air drying some of them, or just the seeds you scrape out if using Jean's method of freezing them.
    The air-dried ones re-constitute very well in dishes.... or you can grind them to dust in an electric coffee mill and make your own chilli powder [wear full protective gear for this operation as the slightest bit of dust is extremely "hot&painful"]
    We will probably try Jean's method next year.... but use the dehydrator to dry them and their seeds seperately. All the flavour is in the chilli fruit along with variable amounts of heat.... the full heat is in the seeds.
    We've made our own Paprika the dry'n'grind way too.... very tasty!

  8. Yu might try a batch of this stuff: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/pickled_jalapenos_escabeche/

    I made some with jalapenos that Harriett grew and it's great stuff.


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