Baby tomatoes

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Canning Cookbook- Sweet Pepper Relish

It's the time of year that I love- time to use up LOTS of stuff as our gardens all come to an end for the season. If you remember, I love going to a local you-pick farm and loading up on the beautiful vegetables they grow every year- cucumbers for pickles, tomatoes by the ton and sweet Gypsy peppers. I never had a Gypsy pepper until I tried them from the farm. They are a sweet pepper, not as big as a bell pepper, but very similar in flavor. Ripe peppers are usually yellow but if you can leave them on the plant long enough they turn into gorgeous orange and red tones. I love spending time in the fields (they really are farm fields filled with vegetables there) picking peppers and tomatoes in the sunshine. 

Last year I lugged home a good forty to fifty pounds of gypsy peppers. I spent my evenings dicing and spreading the little pepper cubes on dehydrator trays and ended up with several quarts of dried diced peppers. Throughout the winter months, when a single bell pepper can cost as much as two dollars in the grocery store, I can just rehydrate a couple tablespoons of diced pepper and continue with my recipe. No worrying about keeping fresh peppers in the veggie drawer, no cleaning, no prep- just open a jar. They are so handy! 

Another great way to preserve those beautiful garden peppers is to make relish. Sweet peppers or hot, the choice is yours. Relishes are easy to make, don't require a pressure canner, and make great gifts during the holiday season. Bell peppers, and gypsy peppers, are always available in a variety of colors and have such a delicious sweet flavor they make a great condiment for sandwiches, cold meat plates, and more.

This pepper relish recipe comes from the NCHFP website. If you aren't familiar with this website I encourage you to check it out. There is so much information housed there, from safety to basic recipes to salsas, sauces and soups plus complete and detailed instructions on how to safely can foods at home. In this recipe you will see the peppers broken down by color. You can use any combination of bell peppers or other sweet peppers as long as you do not exceed the total number of cups of peppers. Throw a hot pepper or two in there if you like a little heat. 5 cups of peppers is about 7 or 8 large bell peppers, or about 3 or 4 pounds before grinding (remove seeds and stems!!) If you use Gypsy peppers you will need......a lot more. These pictures come from the kitchen of Suzanne Ledford, a home food preserver from Canton, North Carolina, who has done a fantastic job. Her relish is made with yellow bell peppers and looks flawless and beautiful in those jars.  Let's make some relish!

Suzanne's relish looks beautiful made with yellow bells.

Sweet Pepper Relish
adapted from the NCHFP 

5 cups ground green bell peppers
5 cups ground red bell peppers
1 1/2 cups ground onion (about 3 medium)
2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar or white vinegar-5% acidity
2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons pickling salt
4 teaspoons mustard seed

Prepare a boiling water bath canner and pint or half pint jars. NO quarts !!!

Combine relish ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring the mixture to boil over high heat. Reduce heat and cook for 30 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking and scorching.

Suzanne has her jars ready and heated, relish simmering away,
and look at the time- that was P.M.!! 
Ladle the hot relish into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims, fix lids and rings, and place in boiling water bath canner. Process for 10 minutes. Allow the jars to cool undisturbed 12 to 24 hours before checking the seals and removing the rings.

It's a little bit bittersweet to know that this year's garden will be my last garden at The Little Lake House. This year we had terrible luck with our plants so maybe it's just as well. My adventures as a small town resident are drawing to a close as I prepare and pack up and get ready to head back to the city after nearly five years as a small town girl. It had it's ups and downs for certain, but I'm glad I was able to have the experience.

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