Sunday, November 4, 2012


Our cool and shady summers aren't the best for raising chiles - and the handful of harbaneros that matured this summer succumbed to some blackening blight.  

But whatever it was that was troubling the plant seems to have gone away and I've been using a cold frame to keep it going through the frosts.

I took a harvest of orange and green.

Last year I made a hot sauce by stewing parsnips with dark beer and blending in the peppers, and it gave marvelous, earthy heat to winter soups.

This time I'm going with the essence of simplicity -- a fermented hot sauce made with peppers, salt and a bit of juice from the sauerkraut crock.

We'll see.  So far it is green pain.

Two weeks ago I pickled some beets from the garden.  One with parsnips, one with turnip and one with beets alone.  

Many people like them sweet, but these are savory with only the slight sweetness of the beets themselves.  After two weeks in the refrigerator the beets have staid crunchy and somewhat raw tasting -- in a good way.  The one with the parsnips took on a carroty flavor -- and the parsnips have gone soft, but with good flavor.  My favorite is the one with turnips, the whole jar of which has a spicy, radishy flavor.

The recipe for these pint jars of beets -- 
  • Peel the beets and slice them up the way your significant other likes them -- in this case, thinly.  
  • Pack them into a jar that's been more or less sterilized with some boiling water.  (Beets tend not to float, but if you include turnips or parsnips, put them in the bottom under the beets.)
  • Prepare a brine 
    • -- a cup of good, warm water and a tablespoon of salt  
    • OR -- a cup of water, a half tablespoon of salt and starter like whey (I added three tablespoons of juice from the kimchi I made
  • Pour the brine over the beets, leaving at least an inch or so space.
  • Cover the jar with a lid, loosely so air can escape as the ferment bubbles.
  • Leave it on the counter for a couple of days (or forget about it and leave it as I did on the counter for over a week if you don't mind lifting off a raft of mold from the surface).
  • Put it in the fridge.