The idea for this blog came from the pepper plants in our front yard. Mary Lynn planted Habanero and Jalapeno plants in big flower pots. Only one plant per pot. They are on either side of our driveway. They produce so many peppers for a really small amount of work. They also have so much beauty, all the different colors are beautiful to drive up to. These plants have produced at hyper-speed. It seems like every day Mary Lynn is picking ripe peppers. She had not planned for any use of the peppers, other than our own use. The number of peppers has changed that idea, now it is pepper relish! I will give you recipes for relish other than Habanero, but they will not be as popular as the hot stuff. I guess there are more “Hot-Heads” than anybody thought. What is a “Hot-Head”? That is what my name for people who really love the hottest relishes, jellies, and jams are. They also want the hottest salsa and wing sauce. Everywhere you go every Hot Wing restaurant has their own version of Hot Hot Hot sauce. I will cover just one relishes in this blog, the wing sauce will be in a blog dedicated to just wings. A little hint for those of you that decided that next spring you are going to have a pepper garden in your yard. This spring is the time to make good those promises. It is not hard to do. If you don’t have a full fledged garden in your yard, make a garden flower pot. All you need is a large flower pot, some potting soil, and some pepper seeds. If you don’t want to wait for seeds to grow purchase pepper plants at your favorite hardware store, or nursery. Ready to plant peppers are available and make it easy to start. The price is more expensive than seeds. A pepper plant can cost as much as $3 for a single plant. Sometimes you can buy a six-pack of plants for around $4. Seeds just cost $1 and you get several seeds in a pack. I have even seen plants at big stores like Wal-Mart and K-Mart. If you start seeds, then the big pot can wait. Starting peppers from seeds is a long process, they take a very long time to germinate. On each package of seeds you will see info on the growth times til you have fruit (I know peppers are not fruit, but that is the way the package reads). This is what they will look like at germination, growth of root system, stem and leaves. I plant my seeds in the small pots just for starting plants of all kind. You can see on the left the size of these pods. This pot lets me start and grow till it is time to plant in my garden or flower pot. You can also buy something that has a cover and spaces for each plant, but if you are like me, I can make something to use in place of buying one. This is the way I go. You can make your own plant starter by placing your tray with plants in a cardboard box that has been cut to a size about 2-3 inches above my seed pods. Next add plastic wrap from your kitchen. The wrap needs to be sealed so none of the moisture leaks out. Duct tape will work, use 2 strips of wrap with the middle over lapped. You can spread the overlap apart and add water without breaking the seal. Either way this method makes the faster germination. I guess because of the cover that holds in heat and moisture. This method also helps you if forget to water each day. I place my tray or box in the location that gets the most day-light. If you live in a apartment, just set on your balcony, porch or even window. Another thing I have seen with growing peppers, the hotter the pepper, the longer it takes to germinate. This might not be true for all peppers, it just seems to be the case for mine. Another major factor in growing peppers is where you like. Something else to consider before you plant is finding out what region of the country you live in. The region is setup to show you when to grow your plants. In the South, the growing season in some places is the year around. Up North the planting season may not start till June. Check on-line if you are not sure of the zone you live in, or do what I do, look on the seed pack, it has a chart for planting. Either way find out when to plant in your area. The peppers are ready to transplant to a pot when they look like this. Notice the roots coming out of the little pod. This is the first sign of a successful start. This little pod should be placed in the center of your pot If you have a extra large pot, divide the pot in to quarters and place the pod in the center of the quarter. This is not a bad way and you should be able to grow more than one plant making your harvest that much better. I would suggest that you stick to one type of pepper per pot. I am not sure, but I think that I get a better harvest with just a single variety per pot. If you really have a space problem, use just one pot and plant 2 plants of each variety. Try to do your pot like this photo. One thing you don’t want to do is crowd your plant. That will cause the plant to produce smaller numbers and size. Take a little time to plant, you will be happy with your results. Your hard work will pay off with a bountiful harvest of peppers. So many you would not believe. When you pick your peppers take them in the house and wash them then remove the stem and blossom from the peppers. You are going to have to do that no matter what you are going to do with your peppers. If you have relish in mind, just put the whole pepper in a good strong freezer bag (not the ones from the sale section). Just keep adding peppers as you pick. If your bag gets full, just start another. If you have more than one type of pepper, use different bags for each kind. Make sure to label the bags, so as not to confuse yourself, they all look alike after picking. When you get enough to make relish just thaw the peppers and chop with a food processor. You can try to chop them on your on, but a mechanical chopper is best. If you are doing Habanero Peppers do your work in a well ventilated area or for best results, go outside. If you have ever worked with really hot peppers, you know what I mean. The juice of the peppers and the fumes are dangerous. Wear disposable gloves and protective eye-wear if available. Just one time inside was enough for me. I choked til I thought I was going to die. Do your self a favor, don’t make the same mistake I made. Chop out side.
We use several types of peppers to make our Habanero Relish. You may decide to just use one pepper. That is up to you. I like the taste of more than one pepper in my relish. We use bell peppers, banana peppers, and jalapeño as well as habanero in the recipe.You can find many different types of peppers in you local market or farmers roadside stand. If you are not sure of the heat in a bag of peppers ask someone who works there, they will give you an idea of the heat level.
Well I have gone on enough, it is time to make something.
Habanero Pepper Relish In a large cooking pot (Non Aluminum if possible. The vinegar reacts with the metal) add 5 cups Habanero peppers, chopped. 2 cups onions (Red and Vidalia), chopped. 1 cup each Bell Peppers, Jalapeno Peppers, and Hot Banana peppers. 1 quart white vinegar. 1 tablespoon salt (Kosher or Canning). 1 cup sugar. 1 teaspoon celery seeds, 1 tablespoon mustard seed, 1 teaspoon tarragon, chopped, 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, 1 teaspoon celery seed, 1/4 tablespoon ground allspice. Bring to boil, cook for 15 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking. Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Stir again completely. Put into 8 ounce canning jars that have been washed and drained. Add your relish to within 1/4 inch of the top. Take a damp paper towel and clean the rims. Place sterile domes on the jars and tighten with your rings. Do not over tighten this will keep air from escaping, too loose and water will leak in. So just finger tighten. Process 15 minutes in water bath. Make sure that you have at least 2 inches of water over the tops of the jars. Remove jars and place on a cooling rack or clean counter top. Let sit over night, then check for jars that did not seal. These jars have to be reprocessed. Remove the ring and dome. Clean the rim and place a new dome on the jar. Tighten the ring and redo the water bath.
To make Jalapeno Pepper Relish just leave out the Habanero Peppers. Or maybe just add a little. The same for other pepper relishes, add more of the type of pepper you want and leave out, or just use a little of the hotter peppers.
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