Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hot Pepper Mustard


Ok, I've been canning for 2 weeks straight!  I put up lots of goodies for winter and I've lost count now how many batches of this sweet/hot pepper butter I've made.  I've given away a few jars to friends and family and have had several requests for the recipe, so here it is...

You won't find this recipe in the Ball Blue Book.  My guess is that they don't approve of it because it contains flour as a thickener.  I've made hundreds of jars of this and have yet to have had any go bad.  My dad loves this stuff and if you could can it in gallon jars, he'd be all for it!

It is the perfect dipping mustard.  We like it with cheese and summer sausage, on ham or turkey sandwiches, for dipping pretzels and it also makes a great glaze for a baked ham or venison roast.

I originally got this recipe from a lady at my dad's church.  My dad then ran over to Ohio and bought a bushel of U-Pick hungarian hot wax banana peppers and begged me to make him a lifetime supply of mustard.  The original version was a little too flaming hot and salty for our tastes, so I've tweaked it a bit and clarified the directions a little.  Here's my version...

(UPDATE:  08-02-11 -- I have later come to learn that using  flour as a thickener is considered a big no-no according to official canning standards (as per BBB and University Ag. Extension agents.)  I will tell you that I have made many batches of this mustard and have never had any trouble with it.  Also the older lady from my dad's church who gave me the recipe has been making it for years. 

Clear-Jel is considered the only acceptable thickening agent for canning.  The concern is that the flour may inhibit the jar from heating thoroughly all the way through.  I do not recommend making this in quart jars, for this reason.  If you do choose to make this recipe, I just want you to be aware of this issue and be sure that you process your jars properly and for the recommended length of time.  You may want to try it with the Clear-Jel to be on the safe side.)

**********

(UPDATE:  10-16-14 -- I just canned up two batches today using the Clear-Jel instead of flour.  It takes less Clear-Jel than flour to thicken.  1/2 to 3/4 of a cup is plenty.  The consistency is just as nice as flour and actually tastes a little better I think.  

I bought a new rack for my BWB canner and since it doesn't have dividers, I can fit 13 half-pints into one batch.  That still leaves about 6 half-pints more in the pan, so either leave it on a low setting to wait or you could divide the measurements of the batch in half.  I ended up with 36 half-pints of pepper butter.  Guess that will be what everyone is getting for Christmas this year.)

Hot Pepper Mustard (Butter)


(yields about 7 pints)
  • 4 quarts chopped hot and/or sweet banana peppers (3.3 lbs or about 36 large peppers)
  • 1 qt. vinegar
  • 1 qt. prepared yellow mustard (don't go cheap, get a good quality mustard)
  • 4 c. sugar
  • 1 1/4 c. flour
  • 2 tbsp. salt (optional; I use 1 tbsp.)


1. Wearing vinyl gloves, cut up and deseed/devein the peppers.  Remove stem and blossom ends and cut into large chunks.  You can toss in some of the seeds if you want it really hot.  I go about 50/50 on the ratio of hot and sweet banana peppers.  This gives it a kick without burning your tongue off!


     I also like to take a few dark red peppers aside and chop them by hand before adding to the pot.  They look really nice suspended in the golden yellow of the mixture.


2. Puree the peppers in a blender using some of the vinegar.

3. In a large pot, combine all ingredients except the flour.

4. In a small bowl, add enough water to the flour to make a smooth paste.  Be sure to work all the lumps out.

5. Add flour paste to the mixture.

6. Simmer over medium heat until thickened, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.


IMPORTANT -- Try not to let the mustard boil as this will incorporate air bubbles into the mixture.  Air bubbles are the number one cause of the mustard boiling out of the jars in while in the water bath.  If you think it looks bubbly, let it sit awhile on the lowest heat setting until they are gone.  Stir gently.

7. Pour into hot jars leaving 1/2" headspace.  Wipe rims and place lids.  Hot water bath 15 minutes for pints and half-pints.


Enjoy!

I made a bunch of half-pints to give as Christmas gifts.  I try to can something special every year just for that purpose.

Well, now I am on to green beans.  I picked 5 gallons this week.  I am loving my Nickell heirloom pole beans I got from Sustainable Mountain Agriculture, Inc.  They are so tender and flavorful.  I am saving seeds for trading and may do a giveaway later on.

The garden is close to finishing up.  I have a few fall crops to put in yet.  I am getting ready to till the main garden up and plant it to buckwheat for my bees (who are doing great, btw.)  August is really my busiest time of year!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

An odd place to find a grasshopper...

This seems like an odd place to find a locust.

 


I was checking over my Heavenly Blue morning glory vines, looking for any sign of impending bloom, when I spotted this guy up under the rafters of my porch roof.

It's a big one, over 2" long.  Probably deciding which of the lush, overgrown (flowerless!) vines to nibble on first. 


I was afraid that he might get annoyed and jump on me while I tried to take his picture.  I would have thrown the camera and run for sure.

These morning glory vines are beginning to engulf my porch.  They look healthy and awesome.  I am just waiting for them to put on their big show.  I planted them there to provide some quick shade so that my husband can eat his dinner out on the porch without the evening sun blinding him.

I've been really BUSY canning the past couple of weeks, so I haven't had much time to post.  When I get more time I am going to post my version of Hot Pepper Mustard (Butter).  Tuesday I canned 18 pints and 17 half-pints (for Christmas presents).  We like it--A LOT.  And I think you will too...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pampers for Poultry

Chickens don't come potty-trained.

Somehow "Renna" keeps ending up inside my house.

Here's Renna sporting a chicken diaper prototype...



Nope.  She doesn't like it, in case you're wondering.

I've seen chicken diapers on BackYardChickens.com before.  This was my quick attempt to make one out of a piece of old bedsheet.  I might have to break out the sewing machine and make a nicer one.

The things I do to keep my sanity and the peace around here!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Popcorn Chickens

That's how baby chicks grow...like popcorn.



Round 'em up and move 'em on out!  I moved my latest batch of chicks down to the chicken barn, still in a brooding pen, but a bit roomier.  I promised my husband I would get them out of his garage before they started to stink or fly out and poo on everything, whichever came first, and I kept my promise!  I've got a top on the brooding pen this year so they can't get out.  I don't want them pooing on everything down there either.  Because that's what chickens do best, even the little ones.

Here they are enjoying their new digs...



This has made room in the garage for my yard sale.  Yes, it's finally going to happen!  I've been talking about having a yard sale for like 3 years now.  It's officially in the works.  But I digress...

This year's batch of chicks are 26 Black Star pullets.  They are supposed to be phenomenal layers.  I'm going to cull hard for quality this time.  It's been my experience that if they don't get the kinks worked out after their first couple weeks of laying, they'll lay weird eggs all along.  I wanted to try Buckeyes this year, but you have to order very, very early to get them.  They are critically endangered.  I am also interested in Black Copper Marans.  I want a dual purpose bird, but I still put a high priority on egg laying.

I didn't start them out down there in the chicken barn because sometimes I see evidence of a black snake in residence under the building.  Brand new baby chicks are small enough to be eaten by one.  I leave him alone and he does his thing--and keeps the mice out of my chicken feed.  It's a good arrangement.

I've learned my lesson the past couple years and we're trying to socialize this new baby cockerel early.  I think he's going to be a Blue Andalusian.  They offer you a "free mystery chick" with your order and you can pretty well count on it being a rooster.  I've been letting Ava play with him and carry him around the yard with her.



Ava calls him the "little lellow (yellow) chick", but his official name is Little Boy Blue, for now anyways.

She's been "babysitting" the chicks, but really they are babysitting her.  I've been getting so much done here lately while she keeps herself occupied with a chick.  Every so often I make her go down to the chicken barn and switch out for a new "fresh" one.

She has called the black ones (whichever one she happens to be holding at the time) "Renna", which was the name of her imaginary friend, who is not so imaginary anymore now that Renna has morphed into being a "chicken friend".  These girls should turn out to be very tame.

Ava is gentle with them and they go on all sorts of adventures together, hanging out in the sandbox or strolling around the yard.  They've made their way into the house a time or two as well...



Here they are venturing together into the Tomato Jungle...



She didn't share with Renna, who would have really enjoyed a tomato by the way...



And they helped me pick sweet banana peppers...
 


More fun than a barrel of chickens!

Please pardon my sweaty, dirty little farm girl.  She does clean up well though.  Ha.

I'm still debating how to do this all-in/all-out thing with my layers.  You can't help but get attached to them when they're around for so long.  Most certainly you should not name them.  Mark that one down in the lesson book--don't name anything that you plan to eat.  I'm thinking maybe as fall comes on, I will go ahead and cull the worst layers.  Most of the girls will be going into molt anyway.  I will maybe keep the best five throughout the winter to keep us in eggs.  I can't see any point in feeding the ones that don't pull their weight, but it will still be hard to do.  From here on out, I'm going to get all chickens that look the same, that way I won't favor any.

Speaking of butchering, it's time to put in my order for fall broilers.  I will be going with the Cornish X again.  I have no complaints with them and those I've gotten from Murray McMurray Hatchery have always been strong and healthy.  I had to buy a package of store-bought chicken breast the other day and it was seriously lacking compared to the quality of those we raised ourselves.  I have just about used up all that I have in the freezer.  I'm glad I made it as far as I did because we decided this year that fall broilers would be easier for us to manage and we'll have more time to process them in the fall.  I'm going to go ahead and order 35 again.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Feed the Dog

I had forgotten about this video and just came across it today.  This is Ava, 2-years-old, this time last year (as I can tell from the sunflowers and the canning paraphenalia in the background.)

She was throwing her dinner to the dog, saying "boop!" with each bite she tossed.  So funny!

I look at her now and think, how on earth did I end up with a preschooler so fast?  Where'd my baby go?  I don't feel so far off from those days when I realize she was just in diapers this time last year.

I gotta get this kid a brother or sister before she takes over the world!  LOL