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Early July Peppers

Sweet and hot peppers

July 9, 2021 this is a really good example of what I am currently picking every 2 to 4 days. I have five or six pepperoncini plants and I have learned that this is way too many! I also have 18 green pepper plants. Too many of these as well. Next year I need to include banana peppers, red bell peppers and yellow bell peppers. I also need to do a better job of labeling and separating them out from the very beginning. I generally struggle with this.

Sauerkraut 2021

Start with two cabbages. Cut out the core. Cut or shred the cabbage and then get the shredded weight in grams. Add 2% of the shredded cabbage weight in kosher salt to the shredded cabbage. (Grams of cabbage x .02= grams of kosher salt.

Toss cabbage and salt and knead for 2-5 minutes. You should begin to see liquid coming from the cabbage as you work it by hand. Stuff the mixed cabbage/salt mixture in a container (such as the one above), and use a muddler or like instrument to pack it down. Top with plastic wrap and a small weight then let it ferment for at least one week. (At the time of this writing, I’ve let the fermentation go for 6 days. I will try it over the weekend and will most likely let it go at least one more week.) I finished the fermentation at 14 days and got 6 quarts from the two cabbages.

Early Summer Gardening Update 2021

Here’s a short video for an early summer update on the garden.

2021 Garden Reminders

Placement pic 1

34 pepper plants

Venison/Pork Brats

April 17, 2021

Saturday’s are a good day to enjoy hobbies! Christy and I often take the day to ride bikes, visit family, hike, or relax at home. For me, working with a hobby helps me exercise my body and mind in different ways. On this Saturday, I was able to make some bratwurst for the first time. I used Joshua Weissman’s recipe as a base, and scaled it up for 10lbs.

Venison-6lbs

Pork Butt-4lbs

Salt 2%-5TBS

Black Pepper-4 1/3 tsp

Allspice-2tsp

Dry Mustard-8 3/4 tsp

Maybe 2 Quarts of ice cold water after all was ground, during hand mixing

This was a fun recipe! Easy and cheap. I found the butts on sale at Kroger and the venison was left over from a deer I harvested in 2020. This recipe yielded 36 brats and several patties as there is always leftover meat in the stuffer. (This time there was ALOT of extra meat since the seal on the stuffer was split and about 1/2lb oozed out of the top of the stuffer.) I used my #8 Cabela’s grinder with the 4.5mm plate to grind the meat one time through. I made sure the meat was very cold by cutting it into smaller strips and placing it in the freezer for about 2 hours prior to grinding. I also placed the grinder pieces in the freezer and should have placed the stuffer container in the freezer as well, but did not. (Maybe I didn’t have room??) I then sprinkled the seasoning on the meat and ground it. After I ground both meats, I placed it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so. I then mixed the meat by hands. I was too lazy to get my hand mixer down from the shelf, but quickly wished that I had since my hands were slowly freezing and my wrists were burning due to the muscles being worked in a way they were not used to working. I got good protein extraction and then filled the stuffer tube.

It was at this time that I realized I had made a few mistakes the last time I used the stuffer. 1. I had not been using enough mineral oil as a lubricant and the seal had torn. 2. Or…it had torn because I had not been taking the seal OFF the plunger before storing. I suppose I could do this, or unscrew it and store it separately. 3. I had not ordered/stored an extra seal, even though I thought about it, yet never did it. I immediately went to Amazon and ordered a package of two.

This caused me to reevaluate my “spare part” situation for both the stuffer and the grinder. This summer I’m making a goal to purchase some extra grinder plates and knives to have on hand, as well as some food grade silicone spray and grease.

After I filled the stuffer, I began to fill the hog casings I purchased from LEM. I watered down two cookie sheets and used one of these so the filled casing would slide as I filled it. The casings were great! They slid right on the horn and filled up without a single blow-out.

I’m looking forward to purchasing a #32 grinder from Meat! this year and then a meat mixer attachment the following year. These will help immensely!

Spring Gardening-Late April 2021

I was able to take a Friday off due to working Sunday and begin preparations for “Garden 2021.” The Winter Sowing method is still my favorite in seed propagation. I had about 4 milk jugs fail this year, but I used old seed that I had been saving (some I have had since our time in Kansas City). I probably should have been saving seed in a freezer, but they are so plentiful right now. I have switched to placing a collection in a mason jar with a gel packet inside though.

Redneck Greenhouse v1.0 with old jugs

I took most of the old milk jugs and repotted the tomatoes in yogurt containers I’ve been saving. This gives the seedlings more space and I’m able to plant them deep; helping to provide a better root system. I’ve found this to provide a healthier plant for the season. I need to count the number of tomato plants I have, but I believe there are around 40. Hopefully I’ll remember to edit this post with a better number.

pink tip greasy beans

Last year I had the pole beans on the left side of the garden in an “L” shape with the cattle panels. This year I’ve placed one wall of beans on the left and the other on the right. Pictured above will be Pink Tip Greasy Beans. They’ll be ready in 100 days. I planted both beans 1″ deep and 2″ apart.

Mayflower pole beans
Mayflower Pole Beans

The Mayflower Beans were purchased from SeedSavers and I should have enough original seed for at least one more season-maybe two. I’m excited about these beans! I was born in Plymouth MA, so the name of them are intriguing. Last year I planted the greasy and the rattlesnake, preacher beans. I wasn’t too impressed with the rattlesnake ones, so I’ve switched to these. I’ll also plant some bush beans. I bought heirloom beans of all the varieties, so I’ll be saving some of all.

Tomatoes in Yogurt Containers

Driving in the 8′ tee posts and putting up the cattle panel are a chore. I was able to do this before lunch followed by dividing out the tomatoes in the afternoon. I believe I had about 4 hours of gardening work into these projects. One thing I love about raised bed gardening is that I’m able to save a lot of time. Once the garden is in, I don’t spend much time weeding or fertilizing. I do my best to amend the soil with compost in the fall, then cover it with dead leaves and straw. The two later then compost slowly all winter and into the summer. I usually put a little bit of composted manure and worm castings in the garden mid-summer, but don’t worry too much.

Planting Peppers-Where Are They?

Locating Peppers…

Hopefully this post will help in identifying the peppers this season. Serrano, tampiqueno, wonder bell, pepperoncini, jalapeño. I’d like to save seed from all but the wonder.

Pickled Pepperoncini Peppers-6 Pints

How to Make Brine for Pickled Jalapeños

Adapted from this site: https://cookfasteatwell.com/pickled-jalapeno-recipe/

The brine for this recipe is simple to make. For one pound of pepperoncinis, combine three and a half cups of white vinegar and one cup of water. If you want, add one tablespoon picking salt and bring the mixture to a boil. (The pickling salt keeps the canned jalapeños from turning cloudy. If you don’t want to buy a box of canning salt, you can use Kosher salt. Just expect a cloudy appearance in your jars.) Adding salt is optional but it adds a nice flavor.

As with all canning recipes, don’t adjust the brine. Peppers are low in acid. The ratio of vinegar to water keeps you safe. Use a vinegar that contains 5% acidity. 

How to Pack the Jars

After heating your clean pint jars, it’s time to pack them. Notice I said “pack”. You really want to get as many pepper rings into the jar as you can. Of course, take care not to overly force the slices into the jar–there’s no need to crush or bruise them.

After adding as many slices as you can, use a clean chopstick to poke the slices down. You can often get an extra handful or so of slices into the jar after poking them down with a chopstick.

How to Make Pickled Pepperoncini’s Crisp and Crunchy

One of only problems with homemade pickled pepperoncini’s is they can turn out mushy. No one wants a mushy pepper! To keep the pickled peppers crisp and crunchy, use Pickle Crisp by Ball or Mrs. Wage’s Xtra Crunch. Both products are calcium chloride, which is a type of salt that keeps canned produce firm, among other things. To use, add 1/4 teaspoon per pint to keep the peppers crisp.

Homemade Pickled Pepperoncini’s are easy to make! This simple recipe, which uses the waterbath canning method, makes tasty and crisp homemade pickled slices.

Prep Time 50 minutes

Cook Time 10 minutes

Total Time 1 hour

Servings 2 pints (I got 6 pints from 1lb of sliced peppers-tjd)

Instructions

  1. Slice Peppers: Wash peppers and cut off steams. Slice peppers into 1/4-inch thick rings. Wear gloves for this step to avoid burning your hands. And do NOT touch your eyes or any other sensitive body parts.
  2. Heat Jars: Place a rack into the bottom of a large pot. Fill pot with enough water to cover jars. Submerge jars in water. Bring water to a simmer, 180 degrees. Simmer jars for 10 minutes. (Since the peppers process for 10 minutes, you don’t need to boil the jars.)
  3. Prepare the Brine: While the jars heat, combine vinegar, water, and salt medium saucepan. Boil for five minutes.
  4. Pack Jars. Remove jars from the water. Pack the peppers into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Add 1/4 teaspoon Pickle Crisp to each jar, if desired.
  5. Add Brine. Ladle brine into jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Using a wooden chopstick, bubble tool, or soft rubber spatula, remove air bubbles. Measure headspace. Add more brine if needed.
  6. Clean Rim and Apply Lids. Wipe rim with clean, damp cloth. Place lid on jar. Screw on band to “fingertip tight.” You should feel some resistance but you don’t want to crank the band on too tight.
  7. Process Jars. Lower jars into pot. Water should cover jars by 1 to 2-inches after all jars are in the pot. Cover the pot. Return water to a boil. Process for 10 minutes. (Start the timer once the water returns to a boil.) Be sure to maintain a rolling boil during the entire 10 minute processing time.When processing time completes, turn off the burner and remove lid. Wait 5 minutes before removing jars from the pot. Lift the jars out of the water straight. Avoid tipping the jars. Place hot jars on a towel-lined counter or wood cutting board. Allow jars to cool for 24 hours.
  8. Check Seals. Press the center of the lid. It should not move. Remove outer ring. Gently try to lift the lid off the jar. It should not move. Wipe jars. Label. If any jar didn’t seal, place into the refrigerator and enjoy within a week or so.
  9. Store: Place jars in a cool place out of direct sunlight. For best flavor, wait six weeks before enjoying the peppers.

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