I’ve been quite busy just recently and realised this morning that I was little behind in terms of my blogging, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to rectify this oversight whilst the Mudlets and Mud were otherwise engaged. The weather hasn’t been conducive to me getting outside and clearing anymore of the garden, although to be fair I haven’t had chance to get the manure and topsoil yet so there hasn’t really been much to draw me away from the warmth of the house. I’ve also been a tad occupied with knitting more fingerless mitts but this time on double pointed needles and starting Eldest Mudlets’ Christmas present, both of which will feature in their own posts, although the latter won’t be until after Santa’s done his rounds.
In addition to the mitts and my Christmas Project, I have been busy turning more of my produce into (hopefully) tasty chutney, pickles and sauce and have now accumulated a fairly healthy stock of store cupboard items and Christmas gifts for a few ….. urmm …… lucky individuals? That’s the thing with homemade produce, there is no way of knowing what it’ll taste like until it is mature enough to be opened (3 months in the case of the chutneys), or if it is too hot/not hot enough/too sweet etc in the case of the sweet chilli pouring sauce. So lucky individuals or poor unfortunate souls will, for the most part, be determined at a later date. Mind you, they do say that it is the thought that counts and I’ve given loads of thought to how long each variety needed to be cooked etc.
So in addition to the Autumn Chutney which I wrote about here, I have also made a second batch of Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce, a batch of the Tomato Chutney I made last year and some more Pickled Chillies.
I’ve had a huge crop of chillies this year but then I did have 40 or so plants and in addition to pouring sauce, I have a large number of pods drying in various dishes, dotted about the house. This morning, with the weather forecast finally predicting the arrival of seasonal conditions from Saturday, I decided to clear all the chillies off the plants in the greenhouse before Jack Frost got his hands on them and did the job for me. It took me a while to work my way through all the plants but I eventually ended up with a bowl full of mixed green and red chillies and a compost bin full of tired old plants. I did keep 4 each of cayenne, patio chilli and sweet chilli plants to try to overwinter and these have been trimmed back to the first signs of new growth and are now tucked up under two layers of fleece. I haven’t yet been able to get chilli plants to overwinter successfully but I will give it my best shot because I understand that a chilli plant in its’ second year will yield even more than it did in its’ first year.
So with the fresh chillies all harvested, I took them in and washed them, laying them out to dry, ready for pickling this afternoon. I followed the same recipe as I used last year (which can be found here) but this time I used all white wine vinegar, instead of the mix I’d used last year. Although Mud had thoroughly enjoyed the pickled cayennes last year, he really hadn’t liked the enormous ohnivec chillies at all and so this year I mostly used cayennes in the mix, with just a handful of the smaller patio chillies tossed in for good measure. It took a while to top and tail each chilli (to ensure that no air bubbles got trapped in the very ends of the pods) but I soon had a colourful looking jar of chillies waiting for the pickling liquer. Garlic, bay leaf and whole peppercorns were added with the chillies and now it is another case of waiting to see what the end result is like – although this time the wait is only two weeks.
Pickling chillies is by far and away the easiest way I have found to use my glut of chillies up and I would definitely recommend this straightforward recipe for beginners.