October 01, 2007

Canning and Dehydrating

My first attempt at canning was done about a week ago. I harvested all the fatali chiles from my garden and used them to create a batch of "Razorback Hot Sauce" that I found in a cookbook known as "The Joy of Pickling". To make the sauce, I skinned and seeded around 20 tomatoes that I purchased at the grocery store which I turned into tomato puree and then minced up the chiles after removing the seeds and membranes. Since these are extremely hot chiles (rated around the fourth or fifth hottest in the world) I figured that I could scale down the heat a little in this manner. I water bathed canned five 1/2 pint jars of the sauce and four of the jars successfully sealed.

The rest of the fatalis and all of the red scotch bonnets I cut in half, seeded and then placed into my food dehydrator. This year, I decided to not place my machine outside. This was a good thing because the next day after I started to use the dehydrator it rained. I have a little station set up inside my garage where the machine is set up on a box and the fumes seem to be not as bad as when I attempted to dry chiles in the house two years ago. I have not ground the chiles into powder as yet. I think that I will wait on that until I am done harvesting and drying more of the chiles. I'm still waiting for more of the lemondrop chiles to ripen. They are going to make an unique and delicious powder.

I have set aside four of the red scotch bonnets to make "Carribean Jerk Chicken". I've decided to make a double batch of the marinade and once I put the chicken into it, I am going to freeze the food in ziplocks creating four meals. This is a method of preparing chicken known as "Dump Chicken". At a later time, while the meal defrosts in my refrigerator, the marinade and meat get together and then I can grill or bake the chicken as I feel like, "dumping" it into the pan. I love this marinade, but don't make it often since I only have access to scotch bonnets from my own garden. I'm glad that my plant has produced so many of the little red pods this year.

I have pruned back my tomato plants, but not removed them. Surprisingly, they seem to be undergoing a new flush of growth and I was surprised to see new flowers on them. It could be that I will get a fall crop of tomatoes this year and will be able to sample the fruit at long last. I haven't seen any new tomatoes on the plants as yet, but I will keep my eyes open for them. I am hoping for at least one good batch of homemade marinara sauce yet.