It’s That Time of Year

Time to begin “putting by” the last of the summer’s vegetables for the long winter ahead.  Up today are the last of the homegrown heirloom tomatoes, both hot-ish (Anaheim and Jalapeño) and sweet (banana) peppers (the poblano and serranos are still growing) and an early bushel of Blueridge Mountain-grown golden delicious apples.

The peeled and cored apples have been lightly simmered in fresh-from-the-well water with a little cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.  Once cool, the apples will be ground into applesauce and stored in the freezer.

The tomatoes have been roasted with a touch of sea salt and will be frozen as-is.

I haven’t decided how to preserve the hot peppers yet.  I might roast some of them and simply split, seed and freeze the rest.

The banana peppers, of course, are being fermented and refrigerated for use on deli-style sandwiches (my absolute favorite), in salads, egg dishes and other various and sundry things.  Here’s a super-simple recipe to lacto-ferment peppers (or practically any other vegetable)..

40 ounces cool, fresh water (you may have a little left over)
2 ounces (by weight) sea salt
1/2 cup raw cider vinegar, divided
2 tablespoons pickling spice, divided (optional)

Put the water in a heavy-bottomed pan and bring to a rapid boil. Add the pickling spices and salt and stir until the salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.

While the salt water is cooling, wash the peppers to remove any remaining leaves, dirt or bugs. Using a sharp knife, slice the peppers into 1/8-inch rounds. Fill 2 quart-sized Mason jars with the sliced peppers, leaving about 1-1/2 inches of head room. Pour 1/4 cup of vinegar into each jar.

Once the water has cooled to room temperature, add enough to each jar to come nearly all the way to the top.

Screw the lids on finger-tight and set aside in a warm place (68-72 degrees) for 5 days, “burping” the lids once a day until the fermentation is complete. Transfer the peppers to the refrigerator or root cellar and consume within about 3 months.

What are you preserving this year?  Let us know in the comments!

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