Homemade Habanero Powder

Habanero with the Offensive Instrument that Made it

Just a brief note about what to do with end of the season really hot peppers. A bunch of really squishy looking yellow peppers were hiding in the bottom of a big container of hot peppers I bought at the Festhalle. It was obvious what they were: Habaneros.

Not intending to use them fresh, I turned to my lowest tech imaginable method of drying, with the sun as the only source of heat. It does a great job of heating up the South every summer. I threw them in my drying platter, and forgot about them. Before I knew it, they were ready for the grinder.

I have a couple of electric machines, but none clean up as easily as the trusty Enterprise #602. More peppers are drying as we speak. Should I ambush my in-laws with this? Maybe.

Pepper “Poblano”

With Hardy Begonia

Unbelievably, there may be more Hoya! about Poblano peppers on the interwebs than there is about any other pepper. (For those not familiar with Hoya!, it’s the stuff you don’t want to step in while in the horse barn). First, it is sold under two names–Poblano and Ancho, though the name Ancho is usually (but not always) reserved for dried ground, red, Poblanos. Secondly, it is said to grow in zone 10 and further South, and be no more than 25″ tall. Guess again–I’m in zone 8, and this plant is 52″ tall and still growing.

Ocular Proof

The last and third pile of Hoya! is that these are a mild pepper. Actually, Jalapenos can be also, if you buy one of the varieties that has had all the heat bred out of them. The worst case of pepper burn I have had all summer was from Poblanos I cut up to freeze. I bought them from one of our best local Hispanic farmers, and she neglected to tell me they were really hot. Let the buyer beware.

In short, be skeptical. Grow some yourself, and see what result you get. I am mixing up a seed mix with upwards of ten varieties of hot peppers for next year, so I can see which ones are best. It’s called evolution in action. That is, as long as I survive the pepper burns.

Pepper “Royal Black”

Or is it Black Pearl?

I bought these seeds from the greatest seed seller around, J. L. Hudson from California. He has kept me in seeds for years, and this one sounded primo. It really is.

The black fruit, which ultimately will turn red, contrasts with the purple leaves. The blooms are also purple. It is a type of pequin pepper, a variety that originated in the pepper famous state of Tabasco in Mexico. Though the peppers are upright like a Tabasco pepper, this is actually listed as a different species.

The question: Should it have round or Tabasco shaped peppers? Most photos on the inerwebs show plants with Tabasco shaped peppers. However, they are all black, and quite hot, even up to the level of a Cayenne pepper on the Scoville scale. In short, they are hot to quite hot.

My father, who was a notorious seed thief (he called it “collecting”), would have walked away with at least one pocket full of these. He even stole all the lily seeds from a college that was attended by my three oldest sisters–only the college happened to be housed in a convent called Sacred Heart. I know that because I was there when it happened.

Hot Stuff!

Can’t Get Enough

Like every addict, you have to eventually confess about your addiction. That plate tells you that I am addicted to pepper flakes.

This year I am drying my own, with a nice mixture of kinds hot and really hot. Really hot include Cayenne, Tabasco, and Royal Black. Serrano is hot, but not like the first three. The mildest is the old standard Cowhorn pepper. These are all local.

After they are dried, they take a couple of trips through the old Enterprise #602 grinder.

Pizza!

What does MJ do but dive into a scrap pile cabinet of hers, and comes out with a pepper flake shaker–THAT HAS PEPPERS ON IT. Nothing to do this weekend but fire up the brick oven.

ORANGE Tabasco Pepper

Peppers Galore. The View from our Deck. Sage in the background

Everyone who has used the Southern classic Tabasco Sauce knows that it is dark red. Imagine my surprise when I went to our local vegetable plant seller in the spring, and found that he was selling orange Tabasco pepper plants. I can never resist growing strange new crops–I also have a row of red broom corn, which is actually a plant from the sorghum family.

This was the result.

Future Pepper Flakes

That little reddish orange pepper is the first ripe Tabasco. It’s probably as hot as that whole Serrano that is right below it. I don’t know how this will work, but my goal is to dry all these, and make multi-colored pepper flakes with them. Then I can make some psychedelic sausages.

Investing in Pepper Futures

Uncle Samuel decided to remit us some of the tens of thousands of dollars that we have unwillingly sent him over the years. It truly is a paltry sum, but I have decided to invest some of it in pepper futures. It’s a better use than sending money to defense contractors, or bailing out giant banks.

The amount I chose to invest was a total of $8.05. That gets me seventy five pepper seeds, more or less. My rate of return is likely to be enormous, as a small bag of fresh peppers at the Festhalle usually goes for around three bucks. At any rate, these are the three heirlooms I bought.

 Piment d’Espelette

Another of the official peppers of the Basque region of Spain. Mildly hot, it has only been around since 1523. Strangely enough, that was the year when I was born.

 Sigaretta De Bergamo

Let’s go to the Lombardi region of Italia, virus or no virus. A long sweet pepper, which surprisingly is the diameter of a cigarette. Try and find these at your local market.

Fushimi

Time to go to Nippon! That would be Japan. Another slim sweet pepper, and I can’t wait to try this one.

Moral of this story: grow your own, grow your own.

I am now at sixteen different peppers. Life is good. Thank you to the Federales for floating me eight bucks for pepper seeds. I threw in the nickel.

Simple Enchilada Sauce

Bring out the Tortillas

This is from so far south, it’s from across the border. It is, however also a staple of most Tex-Mex style Mexican restaraunts. Fortunately, it is also dead simple to make.

Ingredients

Peanut Oil

Flour

Can of Tomato Sauce

Salt

2 or more Chipotle Peppers, and Adobo Sauce

If you have cast iron intestines, you can go the Rick Bayless route, and make this with nothing but Chipotle peppers. As I prefer living, I go the tomato sauce way.

Start by making a little blond roux with the oil and flour. I used a regular size can of sauce, or you can mill some canned tomatoes, as it results in the same texture. After it begins to boil, throw in Chipotles that have been seeded. How many is strictly a matter of preference. The same goes with the amount of Adobo sauce you add. It only cooks until it is warmed through.

We made roast pork enchiladas with Vidalia onions rolled up in a tortilla, covered with this sauce, and grated Cheddar cheese. It’s a quick and easy meal, which only needs to be baked until the sauce bubbles. After that it’s time to swine away.

Two More Peppers, Dude

Poblanos on the Rise, with some Weeds

My Nicaraguan pepper seeds turned out to be sold out, so I compensated by ordering two more heirlooms on Fleabay. These are both from Europa. Now I will have a lucky thirteen pepper varieties.

 Szegedi 179 Hungarian Paprika–From the city where Paprika originated. Said to be moderately hot, I got this from the same great grower in Georgia that I have been dealing with.

Antohi Romanian Sweet Peppers–a palm sized pepper, that looks phenomenal. It’s like a giant pimento. I had to order some mini pumpkin seeds from this seller in Arizona as well. MJ loves her some mini pumpkins.

We are finally having pepper weather, with temps in the eighties. We should have more than a hundred plants, if I can keep my stupid Aussie Shepherds out of my pots. Fortunately, the hot weather slows the furry jackals down.

Four More Peppers–Seriously

I probably need professional help on the pepper growing front. After bragging about the eight varieties I have, MJ noted that we haven’t had our favorite, pimentos, in a couple of years, and that I had neglected to plant any seeds. That lead me to the evil Fleabay to buy some.

I found some great sounding pimento seeds from a grower in Cleveland, TN, a town we have driven through a few hundred times, on the way to going fly fishing for trout. Then I made the mistake of staying on there, and found a real specialist in heirloom peppers from Toccoa, GA. Naturally, he had a package deal on three packs of seed, so I was compelled to buy them.

I bought one variety that originated in each of the following three countries–Hungary, Spain, and Nicaragua. That brings me up to an even dozen different peppers.

Peppers, Dude

Pimento–probably the best sweet pepper. We have grown these for years, and like the soprano Maria Callas, they always put out their best effort. The rest are all new to me.

Alba Regia–another sweet pepper, this a Hungarian. In the picture, it looks more blocky than a pimento. My friend George had parents from the Hungarian capitol, and he was impressed when I asked him if they were from Buda, or Pest. He had never met anyone who knew they were on different sides of the Danube.

Piquillo de Lodosa–from the Basque region of Spain, and it is one of their official varieties. Said to be very sweet and mildly hot.

 Criolla de Cocina–Sandinista! was one of my favorite albums by The Clash. This pepper looks like a giant habanero, but is described as having a flavor practically without any heat. Came from a Nicaraguan farmer in 1988.

There are my twelve peppers, and I managed to get my two favorite genres of music, opera and punk rock, into this post. Kind of like peppers themselves.

Eight Peppers

Hot Stuff! Can’t Get Enough

One of my favorite movies is Major League, the goofy baseball movie about the Cleveland racist name/racist logo franchise. My favorite character is Pedro Cerrano, a power hitting Cuban player who worships a voodoo god named Jobu. At the end of the movie, Pedro famously says fornicate you to Jobu, after he thinks his bats are not being protected by the voodoo god anymore, and made into magic bats.

In his honor, and because I can’t stop buying plants, I added a Serrano pepper to my veg list, bringing my pepper total up to eight varieties, with about sixty plants. I also bought my wife a Jobu’s Rum T-shirt as an anniversary present. Jobu loved his rum. “Is not good to steal Jobu’s rum.”

Peppers, Dude

Serrano-Most are three times hotter than a jalapeno., though some can be even hotter than that

Tabasco-The dwarf yellow variety, which is a new one for me

Sweet Banana–We freeze these by the dozen, if they survive our devouring them fresh

Cayenne–No Southern kitchen is complete without a bottle of Cayenne pepper sauce

Poblano–The best mildly hot pepper. Dried when ripe, it makes Ancho powder

Royal Black–A new one, said to be really hot. It goes in the pepper sauce. Some of our seedlings have purple leaves

Early Jalapeno–Early is good

Jalapeno M–A mild Jalapeno. Why did I buy these? They must have been cheap

No regular bell peppers here, but who wants to be a regular pepper grower anyway. I probably will want to stock up on antacids.