Pickling Hot Peppers


This is my second year participating in a CSA and I'm still enjoying the weekly batch of produce I pick up each week at Badseed Market direct from the farm. Last year I didn't really take advantage of the bulk list, which would have provided more opportunity for preserving food over the winter, but this year I've ordered a few bags and already have much fuller cabinet. Our last order included basil for pesto, pepperoncini peppers, a pound of tomatilloes for salsa verde, and a bunch of jalapenos. If you've been keeping up with my garden blog for a while, then you'll remember last year how I extolled the virtues of pesto; there's already a fat bag sitting in the freezer, waiting for the frost to hit. That particular entry also extols the virtues of salsa, canned and fresh.

Of course, one can throw only so many jalapenos into salsa before it becomes barely edible, and after you're used up all the tomatoes or tomatilloes, it's time to find something else to do with the little buggers. Probably my favorite way to preserve peppers is to pickle them. Pickled jalapenos are a good replacement in any recipe that calls for fresh, and they're an awesome topping on nachos and fall chili. The recipe I use from Andrea Chesman's Serving Up the Harvest is very basic; you don't need much to augment the flavor of chiles, just a bit of salt, sugar, some garlic, and some mustard seeds (I didn't have any mustard seeds in my cupboard, so I left them out). Process 10 minutes and viola!

While planning what to do with my jalapenos, I remembered a recipe I found online 2-3 years ago for a pickled condiment, not unlike a Mexican giardiniera, featuring hot peppers, garlic, onions, and carrots. It's called escabeche, and you can find the recipe online at Simply Recipes. The recipe requires a bit more labor compared with a basic hot pepper pickle, but as I recall, the flavor is richer and more nuanced. I'm sure this comes from the additional vegetables, spices, and frying everything in olive oil first.

Here's a photo of the two recipes after processing:

Pickled Jalapenos

Looks tasty, eh? All but a couple of those peppers came from the CSA, since my jalapenos have not been supremely productive this year. The carrots, however, came from my garden.

After I spent the day pickling hot peppers, I took the time to reorganize my cabinet, so the oldest items were in the front. It was already quite packed with the whole cucumbers I pickled in July and the strawberry jam I made back in May. I can't wait to see what everything tastes like in another few months when the flavors have had time to blend.

Garlic Pickles

My preserves stay inside an old Hoosier cabinet my mother bought as a birthday present last year:

Hoosier Cabinet

I'm very fond of the cabinet, since it provides me with an extra work surface and nice dark places to store preserves and potatoes.

Last weekend I picked a bunch of cucumbers from my mother's garden and am planning on making some relish before the weekend is through. Do you have any plans to pickle before the season begins to wane? Or will you be making that last batch of salsa or pesto instead? Do tell!


Long time, no post!

Though the garden has been quite busy this summer, I've been horrible neglectful of this blog. Has it really been over 2 months since my last post? My heads been full of various ideas for entries, but for whatever reason I've lacked the impetus to post. I want to change that. I'm going to start posting at least one entry per week and cover more issues pertaining to sustainability, local food, and urban homesteading. I'll also "redecorate" at some point and redo the layout of this blog, in addition to re-organizing/adding links. So expect lots more activity from now on!

To cover the time I've been away from this blog, here are some bits & bobs from late June and the month of July...


In June the lavender bush bloomed, and I gathered the flowers to dry. I believe it's the 'Hidcote' cultivar, whichever variety is well adapted to wetter, temperate regions. I've had the plant since 2008, and the bush has gotten progressively larger since then, blooming profusely in the summer and showing off its grey-green foliage through the winter. I don't have proper drying equipment, but it's very easy to collect the flowers, tie them into bundles, and hang them around the house for a bit of perfume. The flowers in the photo were too short/small to bundle, so I let them dry on paper towels. When they were finished drying, I pulled off the flowers and stored the herbs in plastic bags.

Tomato Hornworm

Here is one of the hornworms I found on the tomatoes near the end of June, thrown into the grass for the robins to find. Usually, I don't have problems with these little guys, maybe one or two a year. This year, in the new vegetable garden, I found a whopping three hornworms. OK...not that many, but more than I'm accustomed to. Haven't seen a one since I took this photo. Cabbage worms are generally a bigger problem for me.

Bronze Fennel

Pretty bronze fennel flowers. My plants returned this year, and the one along the south side of the house is well over 6 feet tall. Amazing. I'm letting the flowers go to seed so I can get some use out of these plants. They don't bulb like Florence fennel does, and their stalks tend to be rough and stringy, so they're not ideal for cooking, but you can use the leaves as an herb/garnish, and the seeds taste just the same.

Squash and Cilantro

I just love this combination of textures: the large, broad leaves of the squash with the small, feathery leaves of the cilantro going to seed. I'm not sure if these are "correct" companions, but they seemed to do well together. Still waiting for the seeds to dry so I can have coriander. This is a 'Discus Bush Buttercup' winter squash and 'Caribe' cilantro.

Squash Leaf

Leaf from the 'Rond de Nice' summer squash, which is the closest to a proper bush variety I've found in this family. Actually, only today I figured out that this was the summer squash, not the 'Discus Bush Buttercup' I also planted (which forms less of a proper bush, more of a stocky vine).

Coneflower and Oregano

When July came, I decided to visit some plant sales and found quite a few good deals, including this coneflower and oregano plant. When I moved the vegetable garden this summer, I had to rearrange the flagstone path somewhat and pulled out the once-thriving oregano, which I inevitably waited too long to re-plant. The oregano died, so I bought a new plant for a mere $1. Hope it does better!

Purple Coneflower

Another shot of the coneflower, the ubiquitous 'Magnus' variety, of course. I like my echinicea pallida plants, but they have less immediate impact, and I thought some variety might be a good idea. I love coneflowers, though. Can never have too many.

Lilies 2

Lilies 1

The 'Stargazer' lilies in the front border, putting on their yearly show. I especially like the 2nd photo, because you can see the black seed pods from the baptisia, which is impressively big this year.


One of the lobelias I planted back in May. After I saw these on a camping trip last September, I had to have one. The flowers are on a tall spike and pretty small, but they look a bit more striking in groups. Given the right conditions, these are supposed to spread very reliably. They're native to this region, like wet conditions along river banks, but hold up well through droughts. I'm sure they'd be perfect for a rain garden.


A few weeks ago, we visited my mother and stepfather's house in California, MO and were impressed by how well her garden is doing this year. She planted 3 types of melons, which covered probably 20 square feet or more. They weren't yet ripe, so I just took pictures.

I've avoided growing melons myself, because they tend to put out very long vines and I've yet to find a shorter vined or bush cultivar. If any wayward readers can recommend that works in small spaces, I'd love to hear about it!