Thursday, October 24, 2013

About a month ago I started harvesting our Bishop's Crown (Christmas Bell) peppers.

I'm not much of a Pepper connoisseur (as in, I rarely, if ever, eat much of anything with peppers involved), but as I understand it, these peppers are like Bell peppers - or maybe I'm just assuming that because of the name, Christmas Bell - at any rate, I understood you could slice/chop it up and use it in cooking, or fill with cream cheese and roast as an appetizer.

As such, I cut the top (near the stem) off, de-seeded the peppers and put them in a freezer bag for freezing.
In September I harvested enough peppers for a full gallon bag. This approx. half-gallon is some of the peppers we've picked over the last month, not including a bunch J's been giving away to his friends and co-workers.

I remove the seeds onto a paper towel and set it on the microwave to start drying out. After they dry out a good bit I'll separate the seeds from the pulp and gunk and then let them dry some more.

These are the seeds from the 1st batch, back in September.
Hundreds (thousands?) of seeds, that started from just a single pepper. That still just amazes the heck outta me.
I wrote the name of the seeds, where they came from, and the date on a brown paper bag to put them in.

I read several articles about seed-saving on the internet, and my goodness, there's so much advice and different ways of doing things.
I decided to put the paper bag in a ziplock sandwich bag, and then into an old glass mayonnaise jar, which I'll store in the bottom of my spare fridge.

We also brought home another kind of pepper called a Datil pepper, as in "Yep, dat'l do it".
Datil peppers are very hot, similar in strength to habanero peppers. They are almost identical to a pepper from South Africa called Fatalii peppers, or "Fatal".

The one pepper we brought home yielded only 6 seeds, but we got a 100% germination rate from both peppers. I really feel like that is probably because they were Heirloom plants, and not the genetically modified frankenstein seeds we get from Walmart these days.

I don't know how well you can see in the picture because I took it after picking the orange ones, so the ones remaining are still green, but all 6 plants are still loaded with peppers.

Datil peppers are grown in different places in the US (according to the internet, I'm not sure where all those other places are, or their climate) but the main place they grow is St. Augustine, Florida, which is some bit warmer, for longer, than here.

I'm not sure if they are usually late season ripeners, if they need longer warmer months like Florida (we are having freeze watches now, St. Augustine probably won't get a freeze before late December), if it was something we did wrong, or if it was our rather strange Summer weather this year is the reason why we've had really only a few peppers come ripe for picking yet.

Although we sprouted the seeds back in the Spring, same as we do other seeds like tomatoes, it seemed like all the pepper plants didn't want to grow. They lived, but didn't grow any bigger, and I didn't want to put them out in the garden so small, so I kept trying to coax them to grow larger in my seedling pots. Plus I wanted to wait until after Easter to make sure we were past all the freeze worries. We've been having some later frosts the past couple of years.
Anyway, it was pretty late onto into Spring before I put them out in the garden, and it still seemed like they just were not going to grow. I don't think they ever really took off growing until on into the Summer.

I searched for recipes or ideas for what to do with Datil peppers. There's some cooking recipes that use Datil peppers, but otherwise it seems popular to make jelly, relish or sauce.
Jelly isn't happening. Forget that. I prefer to waste my sugar on delicious fruit-flavored jelly.

I found a couple of recipes (copy & pasted) for Sauces, although one seems more like a relish to me.
I've decided I have to make the "Bottled Hell" sauce because, how can you not make something named "Bottled Hell" and ends with "Use caution".

Datil Sauce (Relish?)
I made my first batch of Datil Sauce this weekend, and it turned out well. I followed the recipe in the link that John gave above. I measured things accurately and used 14 datils (8 were ripe and yellow and 6 were pale green). That gave 3/8 cup of seeded, diced chile. Also used 1 cup diced Vidalia onion, 7/8 cup diced red bell pepper and equal amounts of white sugar and dark brown sugar (total 3 tablespoons). Other than that, I followed the recipe closely. The sauce has a nice heat that about anyone can handle (such as my wife). Chileheads may want it hotter. I'm looking forward to the next batch of pods ripening so I can make more. I saved plenty of seeds -- you get plenty out of 14 datils. Chef Paul, I don't know that the recipe needs any tweaking, I'm well pleased with it.

Bottled Hell
- This recipe was sent to me by a relative of Helen E. Becker.  Her Bottled Hell recipe was a favorite almost 50 years ago and still is today.  She published the recipe in her cook book 'Food Favorites of Olde St. Augustine' in 1959.  This sauce is supposed to be very hot, with a strong datil pepper taste, and intended only for the datil pepper aficionado.
Into an electric blender, put 2 cups of datil peppers and 1/2 cup of vinegar.  Mix for 5 minutes. Put mixture into a saucepan;  add 2 large bottles of ketchup (back then, that would have been a 16 oz. (pint) bottle of ketchup, so use 2), plus 2 1/2 cups of vinegar.  Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Fill into small bottles.  Use caution! :-)

No comments:

Post a Comment