How To Pickle Peppers

Do you like peppers on sandwiches, nachos, in beans, salads, dips ?  They’ll be as fresh months from  now as they are today if you pickle them.  I thought I would share this recipe so you can plan to pickle some of your harvest this season.  My children love them.  My daughter actually called to ask if I would mail her a few jars through the mail.  Imagine a jar breaking and the post office smelling like pickled peppers.  I declined that request, but I do take a jar when I visit her.  My grandchildren love them too.

 This batch is a combination of:    

  •  Hungarian Wax
  •  Sweet Banana
  •  Chilies
  •  Jalapeno
  •  White Bell

I throw whatever peppers are ripe in the bowl.  Some people prefer to use jalapeno peppers only, but I like to broaden my horizon.  I make a pickling broth to cover my peppers.  Here’s what you will need for the broth.  You may have to double the recipe depending on how many jars you will be canning:


  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups of white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of Kosher salt

I brought it to a boil.  Next,  I placed a teaspoon of pickling spice to the bottom of 1/2 pint sterilized jars.  Pack the jars with peppers and pour the pickling broth over the peppers. Prepare them for a hot water bath by removing the bubbles with a plastic knife.  Take the knife around the jar a few times and ensure the peppers are packed tightly.  Wipe the rims of each jar with a clean cloth.  Place sterilized lids and rims on each jar.  Water bath for 15 minutes.  They are delicious.

*Note – Do not use blemished peppers when canning your produce.

5 Benefits of Garden Chives

home vegetable gardens



My chives are in full bloom.  This is a volunteer that showed up in the back of the garden.  I’ll give it another week, and than I’ll remove the flowers and cut it back to 1 – 2 inches. This should give it a good start for another harvest later in the season.  

Removal of the flowers is important; otherwise, the seeds will blow and the plant will take over your garden.  This is how I ended up with this volunteer.  I was a little slow removing them last season.  


Supposedly, the flowers on this plant are edible, but I’ve never consumed them.  For some reason, I just can’t get past the thought of flowers in my food.  They can be used to decorate a dish or vegetable tray.  

Chives can be used fresh or frozen.  You can chop and seal them in an airtight container and keep them in the refrigerator.  I also freeze them for use over the winter.  

There are several other benefits to eating chives and they are very easy to grow.  Once they are planted, they require regular watering and a little fertilizer.  My soil is so rich, I usually by-pass this part of the maintenance, but I do water them.  Here a few other reasons to grow and eat chives:






1.  They’re a magnet for beautiful butterflies.  


2.  They are delicious on baked potatoes, omelets and other dishes that call for onions.  I love them in salads as well.  


3.  They are a great source of antioxidants and can help fight cancers in the breast, colon, prostate, ovaries and lungs.  This study is from the University of Maryland Medical Center.   


4.  They are a great source of Vitamin K, which is good for bone strength.  


5.  They help lower blood pressure and cholesterol according to the University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell.

Plant a few chives.  They return year after year and will enhance the flavor of your dishes.
                                                                     

How To Harden Off Garden Seedlings


My seedlings have germinated and are thriving.  I had a 90% successful germination rate.  All starters have been re-potted to larger pots, but for now they’re still under the grow lights.  I plan to start hardening them off this week.  


My herbs, oregano, dill, cilantro and basil germinated.  All of my tomato seeds germinated, which is unusual for me.  I usually lose a few.  This year, I allowed then to stay in the starter pots longer.  I think this method allowed the roots to get stronger before I re-potted them.  I save pots from the garden center when I purchase my flowers and reuse them for my vegetable plants the next season.  My squash, watermelon, peppers and zucchini germinated as well.  I’m looking forward to a great growing season.  

The plants are ready to be hardened off.  What is hardening  off?  It’s where you expose your plants to the elements gradually.  First, I sit them outside for a few hours in the shade.  The next move is to gradually expose them to the sun and longer hours outside, and than I leave them out overnight.  Once they get used to the temperatures, I leave them out until I’m ready to plant them in the garden.  


I have about 20 plants ready for the garden.  I estimate that I have $5.00 in seeds this year.  I would never be able to purchase 20 plants from a nursery or garden center for $5.00 and another $3.00 for potting soil, which I will also use in other areas of the garden.  I will direct seed the cucumbers and green beans.  


This week I will work on getting the manure in the garden and having it tilled. I should have the plants in by the end of the month.  Stay tuned for future posts.  






                                                                   

Easy Homemade Vegetable Soup Recipe

                                                     

         
I love making soups and chili during the fall and winter months.  I adapted a soup recipe that you don’t have to spend all day in the kitchen making and it’s delicious.  Here’s what you will need:

  • 1 package of stew beef
  • 2 cartons of Swanson’s Beef broth (32 oz.) or store brand  (I have used Food Lion brand)
  • 1 quart of your whole canned tomatoes or 32 oz. from the grocery store 
  • 1 package of Hanover frozen veggies or your garden veggies from your freezer
  • 2 -3 small potatoes cubed
  • 1/4 box of elbow macaroni (optional)
  • 1 cup water

Brown your beef in a tablespoon of butter or margarine. Drain, remove from skillet and place on a cutting board. Add your tomatoes, 1 carton of Beef Broth and 1 cup of water to a stock pot and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer.  (You can cut up your tomatoes before placing them in the pot if you like smaller pieces). 


While tomatoes are simmering, cut beef into bite size pieces.  Add  beef and additional broth to pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Peel and cut potatoes into cubes. Rinse and add to pot. Simmer until almost done.  (You don’t want them to be completely done or they may get mushy). Add frozen vegetables and simmer until all vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.  Stir pot occasionally. Add 1/4 – 1/2 box of elbow macaroni and simmer until tender.  Season to taste. 

This soup gets better if it sits for a few days. You can freeze it in mason jars or soup containers for a quick and healthy meal.  It’s Yummy!

                                                           

Vegetable Garden Closed



I’ll be spending the day closing out the garden.  Frost it hit Friday night, so it’s done for the season.  This is my second year gardening, and I’m really enjoying it.  There’s nothing better than picking fresh vegetables in your back yard and preserving them for future use.  This year I planted a variety of tomatoes, squash, zucchini, peppers, green beans and Sugar Baby watermelons.  

I love sliced tomatoes with a little mayo.  I freeze the green beans to use with green beans and corn for holiday meals and family gatherings.  This year I froze a variety of peppers and tried my hand at pickling them.  I have to say the pickled peppers are the bomb.  I sent a few jars home with my daughter and in-laws and they received great reviews.  They are so good the cleaning lady at my office chased me down as I was leaving with two empty jars asking me to refill them, lol. 
I eat them on nachos, in chili and anything else that I can find to put them on.   I made fresh salsa and canned it.  It’s a lot of work, but so worth it.  I love being able to pull out a jar of garden fresh salsa during the winter and it tasting like I just worked down to the garden and picked the ingredients.  I’ll be munching while reading my kindle when the cold weather sets in.  What I’ve enjoyed most is having my grandson involved in watering and harvesting the veggies. 

Here’s a picture of one of my prized tomatoes weighing in at 1.136 ounces.  It was huge and delicious.  I managed to harvest at least 6 colanders of green beans putting away 5 – 6 quarts in the freezer.  Probably the same amount for peppers.  In addition to the frozen peppers, I’ve canned (pictured below) 30 – 40 pints/quarts of pickled peppers, most given away.  
 
I’m working on 12 pints of salsa this week-end.  I’ll be putting them in baskets along with salsa chips and homemade cookies and brownies for Christmas gifts.   Do you have a garden?  How productive was it?  If not, are you interested in planting one and exchanging gardening techniques and seeds next season?  Please leave me  a comment and let me know your thoughts.  You can find my gardening blog here