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A Garden That Keeps Giving

As October winds to a close and we prepare for all the favorites of Fall, my garden protests or maybe its just a Grand Finale. The majority of the summer garden has long been ripped out all with the exception of my pepper plants. These amazing plants continue  to produce in abundance. IMG_4801

While I know I should be pulling them up and planting what ever fall crop is set to go in the space, I just haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. After all who would give up the chance to make dozens of batches of green pepper jelly. Just think about all the batches of spaghetti sauce and chili I can make with those frozen pepper chunks that would cost me an arm and a leg to buy at the grocery store during the winter! That’s right when it comes to cost, I can say that the total harvest for the summer from one of my green pepper plants has paid for the entire cost of 16 green pepper plants. No pesticides or herbicides just loads of green peppers. Just ask my team members! My over abundance spilled over to my office at work and well lets just say the office smelled like green peppers for a day.

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Just two plants

So now what to do with all those beautiful peppers? Let me just say, I’ve never been a pepper person. My father liked them raw, in salads and cooked pretty much any way, well that is except stuffed. Over the years I have made it a point to try them different ways and I must say I am finally coming around even if its just a little bit. My favorite way of course is green pepper jelly. I know if you have ever had this scrumptious jelly then you’re probably thinking that it doesn’t even taste like a green pepper. But hey, its main ingredient is green peppers so I feel it counts. My co workers also love this and hounded me to sell them some and so my jelly enterprise has begun.IMG_5694 Its perfect warmed and poured over a block of cream cheese with some crackers for parties or even for an afternoon snack to hold you over till dinner. Scratch that it’s so addictive you will eat to much and not want dinner.IMG_4804 Look at those lovely Poblanos! Do you see why I cant bear to pull them up? Now for the most important lesson I learned this year. Make sure you are wearing gloves and its probably even a good idea to wear long sleeves when picking hot peppers. I’ve never noticed in the past(but then again this was my best pepper year ever) how during picking the peppers that the heat from the oils of the pepper plants seep into your skin. No I’m not crazy! Its a crazy thought but I cant explain it any other way. I was picking baskets full of peppers and I started tasting peppers in my mouth. No I had not put my hands in my mouth. I know that’s what you are thinking. Next my skin started tingling and burning like when you cut up jalapeño’s and under your nails start to burn. My face started to burn and turn red as well. The first time this happened it never dawned on me that I might be absorbing through my pores the heat from the peppers. Then the next few times I pulled peppers the same thing happened. now I could be wrong I’m no doctor or nor am I a scientist but that’s my diagnosis and I’m sticking to it. I am not intending you first time growers to not grow hot peppers because that would just be sad. I just intend to prepare you. My personal favorites are Anaheim, Banana, every color Bell I can find and Jalapeño. There’s so many more that are way to hot for me and I am sure there are other sweets that I don’t know about. Yes I know I said I’m not exactly a pepper girl but again I am coming around. Then I also have this illness that I love how pretty peppers are. Especially when you can make cool things like this.

IMG_4657                     Its really a simple process. you take a long piece of string or dental floss and run it through a needle. Make a loop about 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches long and tie a knot. then start to thread through the green stems. You will twist the peppers on the string to make them sit right. Make it as long as you would like. When done tie a knot at the other end of the string with a loop and hang to dry. I let mine dry for several weeks. You can leave it for decoration or you can cut the green stems off and place in a mini chopper of coffee bean grinder and make red pepper flakes. Again let me warn you my eye lids, face and throat were feeling a slight amount of burn. You know kind of like when you chop onions and your eyes start burning. When I’m done I store it in small plastic bags and WHALA your done. I was so excited the first time I made it. I went about the house showing everyone. My daughter thought I was crazy and not creative at all.  I did not let her deter me. The way I see it I’m quickly becoming more self sufficient with less dependency on big chain grocery stores!