Look at my capsicums, would you? I have to pinch myself. I cannot believe how gorgeous they are. It never occured to me that I would ever grow such beauties. Previous attempts resulted in small, thin skinned capsicums that never turned red.
My vegie patch this year has been very weird. We had a long, hot, dry summer so only vegies that like it hot flourished. Sweet potato, corn and kiwanos like it hot. They all did very well. But it was so hot even the tomatoes suffered. We got plenty but we were not over run like in previous years. To be honest, I didn’t mind that too much. We got a moderate amount of beans but no cucumbers … which was my fault. I, accidently, pulled them out when I was pulling out kiwano plants. I was determined to get rid of all the kiwano plants except one (I love them but they are prolific fruiters and one is plenty for Maus and me. Unfortunately, when pulling out the kiwanos, I also pulled out the cucumbers – they look the same. The watermelon and pumpkin plants survived but didn’t thrive. Now the temperatures have dropped, they seem to be taking off. Poor plants don’t know if they are Arthur or Martha.
I have already mentioned my capsicums. Wow, did they do well! I had trouble in spring to get any seeds to sprout so, late in the season and in desperation, I saved and planted seeds from a commercial capsicum – about 50 plants came up. I have capsicum plants everywhere.
By the time I got any seeds to sprout, it was already later in the season. I didn’t have any hope that by the time the fruit matured, it would be warm enough for them to turn red… but turn red they did. They are fabulous and the skin is lovely and thick.
I was so chuffed with the ones I picked yesterday that I took a photo of them next to a ruler to show just how big they were. Then I thought that was a bit naff so I ditched it as the lead photo… I still can’t resist showing you.
I took this photo three weeks ago because I was so proud of these guys, especially the three big ones. Yesterday, I picked nine and I already had three in the fridge. Today, when checking on my onion seedlings, I spotted a bit of red amongst the thousand green capsicums and found the huge one in the bottom photo (They are 500 mil jars).
Of course, you know where this is going. I had already “canned” 20 jars of capsicums so I needed to do something different. I wanted to roast them and store them in olive oil but all the on-line recipes indicated that they would last weeks not months. I do doubt this is the case because I store feta and dried tomatoes in olive oil for months, but I didn’t want to take the risk so I kept looking. Eventually, I came across a post from Hunter, Angler Gardener Cook by Hank Shaw called “How to Preserve Peppers”.
Hank notes that his recipe was “inspired by an obscure English book by Nora Carey called Perfect Preserves. Carey uses a hybrid pickling, sott’olio method to keep her peppers delicious through her British winters.” He said that he adapted Nora’s recipe a little to reflect his hotter California climate. I followed his recipe to a “T”. It sounded lovely. Basically, it is roasted capsicums in a little vinegar, salt and their juice. Hank advises that they will last a year in the refrigerator. That sounded good to me. I have set out Hank’s recipe below as in previous times I have attached a link only to find when I want the recipe again, the link did not work.
Preserved Peppers (Hunter, Angler Gardener Cook – Hank Shaw How to Preserve Peppers)
- 8 red capsicums
- olive oil
- 1 cup vinegar (any kind)
- Grill your capsicums.
- When the capsicums are mostly blackened, put them into a plastic bag or bowl covered in plastic wrap. Seal to keep in the steam. You want to steam the capsicums in their own juices.
- After the capsicums have cooled enough to handle, take them out of the bag, one at a time, and remove the skins, stems and seeds. Do not rinse them.
- Place the skinned and deseeded capsicums in a bowl. If desired, slice them into long thick strips. Reserve the juice.
- Once all the capsicums are cleaned, pour some vinegar into a shallow bowl. Dredge each capsicum through the vinegar a few times to ensure it is coated. Place it in another bowl.
- Sprinkle the bowl of capsicum with salt. Gently mix the capsicum together. Sprinkle a little more salt and repeat.
- Sprinkle a little salt into the reserved juice.
- Pour enough vinegar into two 500 mil sterilised jars to cover the bottom.
- Pack the capsicums into the jars. Fill the jars with the salted capsicum juice — but still leave room at the top of the jar.
- Use a butter knife or chopstick to run down the sides of the jars, releasing air bubbles. The level of liquid will drop. Fill the jars again.
- Once the air is out and the vinegar/capsicum juice is right at the top of the level of the capsicums, pour in ½ cm of olive oil.
- Seal the jars.
Hank advises that these capsicums will last a year in the refrigerator, although they will soften over time.
Note: I used 12 red capsicums which filled three x 500 mil jars. I haven’t tasted my capsicum but I have high hopes.