Posts Tagged With: food preservation

Make Your Own Hot Sauce!

Our homemade, fermented hot sauce

Our homemade, fermented hot sauce. Made by Jamie

Hot peppers did really excellently in our part of the country this year and we are now left with a ton.  We had pickled and frozen some and decided to make hot sauce as well!  Traditionally hot sauce (and ketchups, relishes, etc) were all fermented instead of being vinegary like they are today.  Making hot sauce is super easy!

Fermented Hot Sauce Recipe

  • Pick and de-stem a whole lot of ripe hot peppers.
  • Put in a blender or food processor and chop them up until you can’t anymore.
  • Pour into a clean jar
  • Mix in a couple teaspoons of pickling salt.
  • Cover with a cloth or not screwed on plastic lid
  • Let rest and ferment for a couple weeks.
  • Enjoy.

That’s it!  That’s all we did!  After a day it started frothing and bubbling a way.  Later if you want to you can strain it for a liquidy sauce like one you would buy at the store.  We chose to keep ours chunky though and boy oh boy is it hot.

Just remember to use proper protection when you are dealing with hot peppers.  Jamie wore gloves, safety goggles, and a bandana over his mouth during processing day.  Just the smell in the house alone intensely spicy.  I recommend keeping a window open.

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Salsa Making Class

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What is the point of knowing a skill and keeping it all to yourself?  Today I taught a salsa making class for the Driftless Folk School and it was a blast and a half.  Though the class only had 2 students, a couple from Madison area, we managed to make two kinds of salsa and a chutney—that may not seem like a lot but with all the processing we had to do it took all day!

Because it was a class not a personal canning project I decided to use recipes rather than just wing it like I usually do.  Tomato canning can be scary because of botulism fears so when in doubt always follow a recipe.  I’ve been experimenting lately with different kinds of tomatoes and acids.  The tomatoes I used in my class were a mixture of heirlooms from our garden, some Amish paste from actual Amish people, and a neat little variety from the farmers market that originated in Iraq.  Combined they created a super flavorful and powerful blend.  For acid we used white vinegar simply because it was the cheapest thing to buy for class.  I’ve been putting lemon juice into some of my home creations and it is definitely noticeable when you are eating it later so I recommend using it for spaghetti sauces because it adds a cool dimension that seems fancy and purposeful.

Overall I think think my class was a success.  I wish more people had been there but there is always next time.  I love teaching and I love canning and I love eating salsa so today was a great day for Annie!

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Illinois Adventure

On the road again!  Jamie and I went on another Driftless Folk School sponsored adventure this week—Oregon, Illinois for the Oregon Renewable Energy Fair.  The fair itself was kind of a bust because the attendance was so low but we enjoyed exploring the area.  Our first night there we went our to Dekalb for dinner because we saw they had a food co-op and figured that would mean other cool things as well.  We were most impressed with their beautiful artwork all around town.  One mural was particularly stunning and I couldn’t help being a tourist and taking a bunch of pictures.  Since the Kickapoo Country Fair, Jamie and I have been on a gluten free diet to see if it helps us out at all so finding a good place to eat was difficult.  We finally settled on a cool looking coffee shop where they served us the most delicious PESTO nachos! On the way home (we skipped out early) we stopped in Galena as suggested by our friend Jacob.  The town has an amazing downtown with loads and loads of fancy little shops.  We went to one place that sold canned goods where you could sample everything before buying it.  Naturally Jamie and I went around trying all the different jams, salsas, spreads, etc and took some mental notes on things we could make and can ourselves.

Special Note: Look closely at the sunset picture and you will see something unusual.  The Renewable Energy fair was in the shadow of a nuclear power plant—eeks!

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Four Months Later…

4 months.  That’s how long it has been since I last posted.  As I completed another round of folk school catalog design this week and went to delete “Annie writes a blog called Drift Less, Learn More” from my bio, I decided to instead actually take up writing again. As there is no way I could possibly write an update on everything I have done in the past 4 months, here is a “brief” slideshow of events instead.  Enjoy and come back soon for more updates!

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Vegetables of Summer Labor

During the growing season I packed away a couple hundred jars of fruits, vegetables, veggie stocks, salsas, jams, apple sauces, and various other edibles.  Those jars combined with potatoes and squash we harvested, which hide under my bed where temperatures are cooler, have made it significantly easier for me to live cheaply and luxuriously this winter.  As I slowly use my stores of food I have been making note of which foods I have enjoyed and which I could do without.

Canned Peaches:  In light syrup, heavy syrup, and honey.  All have been amazing.
Corn:  Plain with no salt. It was pressure canned. Still perfectly sweet!
Apple cider:  At some point we couldn’t eat or drink any more apples and so canned apple cider was born!
Peach salsa: Delicate, spicy, and still crisp. Also, its very pretty.
Dilly Beans:  My first canning project!  Everything in the jar is perfectly dilly!
Dilly Carrots: Crispy, unique, and addictive
Dill Pickles: Super spicy, crispy, and celery seedy
Unsweetened Apple Sauce: Smooth and sweet and fantastic!
Yukon Potatoes: stored in a paper bag, under my bed. Yummmmm.
Garlic: stored wonderfully and it nice and spicy!
Butternut and Acorn squash: Yummmmmmmm! Keeping well in a box under my bed!
Marinara Sauce: Sweet and thick! Perfect!
Tomato Sauce: Garlic, spicy, and way better than store bought.
Dried Apples:  SO GOOD. Sweet and crunchy and freaking awesome.
Honey!  We got about a dozen quarts from one hive and it is really unique tasting and perfect for tea and baking
Pickled Beets: Good to the last one. And then beyond because the onions and garlic inside are great too.
Dried Lemon Balm: Still delicious. Makes a nice soothing cup of tea!

Less than Awesome:
Sweet Pickles: These would probably be awesome if I liked cloves
Octobers’ Salsa: It’s gross. Tomatoes were overripe.
Green Salsa: Very unflavorful.  Better with fresh garlic and onions added in.
Summer Ferment: It wasn’t done fermenting when we canned it and now it this weird gross, salty mix
Cinnamon Apple Sauce: One time I burnt some apple sauce and thought adding cinnamon would cover up the burnt taste.  It didn’t.
Peach jam: Far too sweet. And not in a sweeeeeeet man kind of way.
Red potatoes:  They didn’t store well and instead grew impressive sprouts.
“Smokey” Marinara: Another burnt thing that got canned.  I am learning my lesson about this…
Whatever they are orange squash:  I think they are actually just under ripe acorn squash. Obviously then they are not delicious.

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Right now we are in peak harvest time for tomatoes and my goddess to we ever have a glut of these beauties!  This morning I got to use the food mill for the first time to make tomato sauce. We have a beautiful hand crank mill and it works like a dream.  I was finding that I didn’t like how watery it was when I was using the attachment for making sauce so I decided to use the one for salsa. It has bigger holes so you get a slightly chunkier sauce.  It looks great! We have also been making salsas and soups with the tomatoes.

Last summer the farm had a late blight and they didn’t get as big of a harvest as this year.  The main differences in care have been tying the plants, periodic fertilizing with some manure water from our horses on the roots, and more regular watering.  It certainly would seem that all the hard work paid off.

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In the past week or so Jamie and I harvested all the hops! They are now dried and in large food grade buckets awaiting their destiny of being made into yummy beer!

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Northwoods and Knives

After saying that I would update more frequently I promptly left home and didn’t update. Sorry folks!

What I’ve been up to:
Northwoods Vacation!
Jamie and I took a trip up to Superior country for a few days. It was wonderful.  The lake and surrounding area are gorgeous. I really enjoyed seeing Ashland and Northland College as I had thought about going there way back when during college application times in high school. One night when we were camping I heard some crazy wildlife that I am unfamiliar with and haven’t been able to identify.  I also heard WOLVES!

What Cheer? Brigade!
On Friday night the What Cheer? Brigade took our little town by storm and it was a dance party extravaganza never to be forgotten. Pretty much everyone I knew or have ever seen in town was there and dancing and having a blast.  Not many bands come to Viroqua and it was great to see everyone out and having fun!  I love this community!

Early American Knives!
A full update with photos will follow this but let me just say that I made a knife and its awesome! I’ve never done any blacksmithing or forge work before and I really loved it!  More later.

We recently got a half bushel of peaches and I have been preserving them in various ways all day.  I have some peach rings and fruit leather in the dehydrator right now and I am mid-canning some in a light syrup. Unfortunately the propane tank ran out and I must wait for the new one to get here this evening until I can finish!

We harvested the garlic a couple weeks ago, tied it, hung it in the barn to dry, and yesterday I cut it down, cleaned it, and prepared it for storage! It’s fun to see the whole process and it smells oh so yummy!

More to come and don’t worry, there will be pictures!

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Making cheese is easy. For real. It’s time intensive and requires some things that you have to buy but it is so much easier than I thought it would be.  Someday I will have my own milking animals and homemade cheese/butter will be an everday part of my life. Yummm!

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