Monday, September 29, 2014

Making Paprika

Paprika Peppers

Last Fall I read somewhere online about how to make paprika.  I didn't realize how easy it was.  I really didn't even know that a "Paprika Pepper" existed.  Come to think of it, I guess I thought paprika was a blend of peppers.  So...when ordering seeds last Winter / early Spring, I found some paprika pepper seeds at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  I grew 2 little seedlings and planted them in the garden.  They were so easy to grow and are still producing peppers.

To begin with, I collected ripe red peppers over a couple of weeks, storing the peppers in an airtight plastic bag in the refrigerator.  This kept them fresh and firm.  Once I had a good amount, (I didn't weigh them or count them, but you can see there are quite a few)  I decided it was time to dehydrate them.

Paprika pepper slices ready to dehydrate

If you have sensitive skin, you may want to wear gloves while working with the peppers as they do have a little heat to them.  Remove the stems, core and seeds and slice into thin pieces about 1/4 inch wide.  I had about 4 trays of pepper pieces.
Place on dehydrator trays and dry at 130 degrees for about 16 hours, until dry and crispy.

Crispy little paprika pepper strips

Once your pepper pieces are thoroughly dry, put them in your blender or food processor.  The Vitamix dry blade container works perfectly for this.

Nearly filled the 4 cup container

Blend or pulse for a few seconds at a time until a fine powder forms.  It really only took about 10-20 seconds to turn the crispy peppers into a fine powder.

Depending on your blender or food processor, you may need to pulse or blend a little longer.

About 10-20 seconds later

A fine powder of paprika has formed.

We have paprika seasoning now instead of paprika peppers

Next, using a wide mouth funnel, pour your paprika into a jar.

Into the jar

Seal with an airtight lid, label it and store in a dry pantry.

Fresh, homegrown paprika seasoning ready for use

It's really that easy!  Now you can enjoy fresh paprika in your recipes or sprinkled over deviled eggs and potato salads.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Apple Pie Milk Shake

Apple Pie Milk Shake

Last week when I canned apples, I had extra cooked apples because I ran out of jars.  I decided to make a delicious Fall treat with the extras and came up with this milk shake recipe.

1 cup vanilla almond milk
1 cup canned apples (can be plain, cinnamon or spiced)
10 scoops vanilla ice cream
1/4 tsp apple pie spice

Pour 1 cup almond milk into blender pitcher, add apples until milk and apples reach the "2-cup" level.  Then add ice cream and pie spice.  Blend for about 10 seconds.  Makes approx 4 cups.

If you don't have canned apples, canned pears will work just as well.  You can also peel, core & halve apples and cook in a little water until soft.

Apple pie spice: 
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional)

Mix all ingredients well and store in air-tight jar. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Making Apple Cider Vinegar

Half gallon jars filled with apple peels & cores and water

I'm attempting a little experiment for the next 6-8 weeks.  I recently learned how easy it is (or is supposed to be) to make apple cider vinegar.  After making all those pickles & relish and using quite a bit of organic cider vinegar (over $5 for a 32 oz bottle) I decided I'd try to make it myself.

The past 2 Saturdays we picked over 44 pounds of apples off of just one of our trees and we'll most likely pick another 20 pounds this weekend.  I processed about 36 pounds of those apples into applesauce and cinnamon apples over the past few days.  It seemed like such a waste to just toss those peels and cores in the compost when I could try and make cider vinegar.  For free!

All that you need to do is fill a large jar with apple peels & cores, top it off with water and cover with a few layers of cheese cloth.  Let it sit in a warm place for 6-8 weeks to ferment and then strain through a sieve into bottles.  At the six week mark, you should begin tasting it for desired flavor.  It seems so easy and beats $5+ per bottle at the grocery store.

I'll report back in 6-8 weeks with the results.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Garden Update for September 22nd

I've been very busy lately trying to keep up with house chores while keeping up with what the garden has been producing.  Here are pictures of the harvests from the past few weeks.  There's only the one garden picture from yesterday.  I've been doing a little cleaning out here and there in preparation for the big Fall clean-up.  I'll share more garden pictures next week.

September 22nd-Garden Overview

September 5th- The usual squash, beans tomatoes & broccoli 
along with basil & a few dropped apples

September 8th- More squash, tomatoes, beans & peas

September 11th- Parsnips & carrots, squash, beans, tomatoes and peppers

September 11th- The peppers on the left are an heirloom variety sweet pepper 
called Chervena Chushka and the peppers at the top are Paprika peppers

September 13th- A large harvest today including 20 pounds of apples

September 13th- We also cut a lot of kale, beans & tomatoes

September 13th- A few pears as well

September 16th- More green beans

September 17th- I picked 8 more Paprika peppers

September 17th- I finally cut some of the smaller sunflowers to enjoy indoors

September 17th- Poblano (or Ancho) Chile peppers & Jalapeno peppers for jam making
and a little more kale

September 19th- The squash have slowed down quite a bit (thankfully),
 more beans, peppers, tomatoes and a few more carrots

September 20th- A big harvest today.  24 lbs of apples, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, pears......

September 20th- acorn squash, green beans, paprika peppers, zucchini
I pulled out 2 zucchini plants and saved all the little baby zucchini for pickling

September 20th

I'll share more pictures of the food preservation I've been working on. This week I'm working on apples.....about 44 pounds and there's more on the tree!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Apple Picking in the Backyard

Last Saturday morning we picked apples from one of our trees in the backyard.  It's a grafted tree with 2 different types of apples.  There's only one nursery tag on the tree however, so we know that one variety is a Primrose apple.  We're not sure what the other variety is.

We were excited (& relieved) to finally see them ripen before the deer beat us to them.  Last year, as we waited for the apples to ripen, the deer cleaned the tree off in one night.  We didn't get a single apple.

This year seems to be working out better for us (so far).  We picked 20 pounds of apples and there are still more to ripen.  We'll check them this weekend and pick more.

I plan to make apple pies, apple sauce, apple butter, apple jelly and I'll can some in light syrup with cinnamon.  Yum!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Freezing Corn

A couple of weeks ago I purchased some locally grown corn from the produce market.  I bought 15 ears of yellow sweet corn and 8 ears of a purple heirloom variety.  We cooked and ate the purple corn with our dinner that night and I froze the yellow corn to save for later.  Since then, I have purchased 15 more ears of yellow sweet corn and froze those as well.

Here's a quick how-to for prepping corn for freezing.  Hopefully you can still find some fresh corn at your local market.  

Shuck, rinse and trim (if desired) ears of corn.  I cut mine in half as well.

Place ears of corn in boiling water for 5 minutes.

Remove corn from boiling water and place in bowl of ice water for 5 minutes.

Place corn in colander to drain while working on more ears of corn.  Then dry with a towel.

A Food Saver is perfect for removing the air from the bags and only takes seconds.
If you don't have a Food Saver, Ziploc bags will work just fine if you squeeze out 
as much air as possible.

Air removed, sealed up, labeled and ready for the freezer.

15 ears of corn ready for the freezer.
To reheat, remove from bags and place in boiling water for 2-3 minutes.

The blog has been quiet lately since I've been busy trying to keep up at home.  A garden update is overdue.  I'll get to that as quickly as I can.  I haven't taken many garden pictures, however I've been taking harvest photos so they'll go up soon.
Since I posted last, I've made more jelly and today I processed 8 pints of green beans.  I have more beans, but ran out of jars!  Once I have more jars and finish the beans, I'll be working on apples.  Busy Busy!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Garden Update for September 2nd

It's September already?!
Here's a quick garden update.  I've been busy in the kitchen, but found a little bit of time on Monday to clean up a few areas of the garden.  Still have more sprucing up to do in some garden beds and will hopefully find a few minutes here and there to get the work done.

September 2nd

Sept 2nd- Melons are growing!

Sept 2nd- Hopefully it'll stay warm long enough to ripen these

Sept 2nd- Spaghetti Squash...The one on the right is HUGE!

Sept 2nd- Lots of yellow squash still growing...I've trimmed a lot of the leaves 
from the plants since we're starting to have a problem with powdery mildew

Sept 2nd- Tomatoes...Still waiting for the majority to ripen.  
I hope these cool nights (low 50's, upper 40's) don't affect them too much.  
Maybe I should put plastic over them?

Sept 2nd- Tomatoes....I trimmed up the bottom branches/leaves again

Sept 2nd- The pepper bed...I cut back a marigold that was beginning to overtake this end of the bed.

Sept 2nd- The other end of the pepper bed.  This poor little pepper plants was nearly smothered
by a marigold.  I doubt it will recover and produce any peppers.

Sept 2nd- Surprise, Surprise!  We DO have eggplants!  
They were completely covered by a marigold!  

Sept 2nd- The cabbage, cauliflower & broccoli bed was cleaned up

Sept 2nd- This cabbage bed still needs cleaning up & these 2 cabbages are almost ready to cut.

Sept 2nd- Celery...There are 3 plants here.  A 4th was just harvested on Monday.
That's a Brussels Sprout plant to the right

Sept 2nd- Baby Brussels Sprouts are growing a little more each day

Sept 2nd- The bean bed.  Spinach and lettuce was cleaned up from this bed

Sept 2nd-  The bean & pea bed....Endive was cleaned out of this bed

Sept 2nd- The apples...almost ripe....hope we get them before the deer do!

Sept 2nd- The gourd tepee

Sept 2nd- There a several nice sized gourds

~Harvests since the last update~
Besides a few small squash & tomato harvests, this is what came from the garden.

August 31st-  You can tell by the size of the zucchini that I was distracted by all the happenings in the kitchen and didn't check the garden as often as I should have.

Sept 1st-  Look at those parsnips!  I see soup in the near future.

That's this week's update.  I'm headed back to the kitchen!