Sunday, October 20, 2013

Guilt and the Green Pepper Jelly

Many predicted it would happen, but I didn’t believe it.  Now, I realize I should have seen it coming.  

I am now canning everything.

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.   For years I was afraid of canning, but a Restoration Farm workshop last winter gave me the confidence I needed to start canning at home.  After that, it was a casual hobby – some apple butter, some blueberry jam.  I was proud of the results.   I even designed my own labels.  (Note to self – designing your own labels for anything is the first sign of a problem)  

Then, I started shopping in order to can. I would scour the farmers market for anything that might look good in a jar. The Peach Preserves were silky, and the Cinnamon Pear Jam heavenly. A fresh herb jelly using basil and parsley from my own garden was perhaps the zenith of sustainability.  

Canning is a big project.  Even if you let the canner air dry after you are done, it’s a big time investment. I finally decided I would take a Sunday off – a little canning “time out.”
But, green peppers and guilt did me in. Restoration Farm has produced a bumper crop of bell peppers, jalapeños and other specialty peppers this season. I kept staring at that mountain of peppers. Guilt is a huge emotion when you’re a member of a CSA. I could not let one more green pepper rot in the crisper. So, I reached for the canning cookbook. 
Green pepper jelly looks like something served for brunch in the wonderful Land of Oz.  A heap of bell peppers are pulverized along with two jalapeños in the food processor. Then, you let the pepper juice strain from the puree, and cook the juice along with sugar, vinegar and pectin. 
The interim color is a bit muddy, but a couple of drops of green food coloring perk it right up.  
The result is a sweet and savory jam with just a touch of warmth from the jalapeño. 
Guilt averted. I’m thinking a little green pepper jelly with a bagel and cream cheese will really jump start breakfast.  

The head grower at Restoration Farm, Caroline Fanning was very understanding when I confessed my obsession to her.
“Hold the phone,” she said.  “Have you made chutney?  If you haven’t made chutney, you haven’t canned everything.”  She’s very kind, but I can see the writing on the wall. 
A short while back, I met another obsessive canner at a community dinner.  Heather was perfectly charming, but all the signs were there. She let drop that she owns a pressure canner and several people at the dinner were raving about her Carrot Cake Jam.  She actually sells her preserves at the farmers market.  

The subtext was clear.  Boiling-water canning is for amateurs.  Pressure canning is the big time. Heather casually mentioned, with a tempting gleam in her eye, that this is a good time of year to buy a pressure canner because they are often on sale.  

Well, I don’t need much encouragement to make a purchase.  I’ve already started comparison-shopping.  No doubt canning my own tuna – and a whole lot of therapy – is in my future.  

©2013 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

The next step is building an extension onto your house to store all of your canned goods.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Your green pepper jelly looks so pretty in the jars and I love your labels. In the south green pepper jelly is served on cream cheese or sometimes I use goat cheese as bruchetta appetizers. Meakin has fallen in love with a raspberry jalapeno jelly from our local farmer's market and stocked up for the winter.

When your work turns out as gorgeous as this jelly, I can see how this could grow into a big time hobby.

Barbara said...

Well I am totally impressed! And even your own labels...which are perfectly designed, btw.
I do love pepper jelly...but never have made it myself. Once in a while I make fruit jams, but not often anymore. Storage is a problem.
Pressure canning? I'm looking that up. You are getting to be a pro!
Please don't do tuna. :)

Unknown said...


~~louise~~ said...

Well, if it isn't T.W. the "professional" canner. I remember those warnings T.W. I for one am delighted that you did not give in. You are obviously having way to much fun with this canning "stuff." And anyway, isn't canning reserved only for certain times of the year?

Personally, I wouldn't know:) I can just see you buying a new fangled canning apparatus. If I remember correctly, you're a bit of a gizmo lover anyway, lol...

Your glistening jars of goodness are a picture of perfection. The labels speak to your roots at Restoration Farm. Who knows, perhaps one day you will be announcing your very own line of canned goods. Count me in for sure!

I'm delighted for you T.W. Have so much fun and enjoy every minute! Thank you so much for sharing...

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Mindy - you can find lots of different recipes online. You should do some checking and see what appeals to you. This is similar to the recipe I used, and the Ball site has lots of great - tested - options. Whatever you choose, make sure you're following proper canning procedures.

Also check out "The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving."

laura luciano said...

Looking great TW... let me know which brand you buy as I am looking to invest in one. So much to do... We need an extra day of the week.

Deana Sidney said...

I love your labels! My only problem with them is the ink runs. I've started using thick clear tape over them to protect them. Jelly looks divine.

I am in serious trouble now... I got a still to distill herbs into absinthe... talk about needing to check in for a cure... oh yeah.

Just to be totally mad, try lemon preserves or chutney. I am crazy for it after a friend made it for me. It's great on everything.

Anonymous said...

What a canning master you certainly are!!!!

The canned jellies look Amazing & I love their colour too! Fun labels too.

Catherine said...

Dear T.W., These are delicious obsessions! Good for you! I love that you have designed you label and are full steam ahead with this project. It is also healthy. You know what is in the food you are enjoying.
I love the color of this pepper jelly and the fact that you heated it up with the jalapeno. I bet it is just too good.
Blessings, Catherine