You may think that once again my weather obsession is going to be the main subject of this weeks blog. Well you would be wrong. In fact its one of my other's chillies!!
Hopefully if you are a regular reader, you will have followed my plants from planting on the 1st of January this year to the current day. It became apparent in the middle of summer that I may have grown too many plants. The daily move from the greenhouse to the sunshine outside, was becoming a tad tedious. But I have stuck with it and I have been rewarded. The plants are covered in ripe fruits.
The chilli trial plants have not been a roaring success. The only ones I was left with are the three chiletepin, which have grown beautifully. Ironic really as apparently they were going to be the hardest to grow.
The peppers are tiny but having cut one open and had a taste the other day, I knew it was advisable not to pop a whole on in for a snack. These little things certainly pack a punch, in fact an eye watering punch.If you didn't know, a chilli is rated for heat on something called the Scoville Scale. This particular one is rated at between 50,000 to 100,000 Scoville Units. There is an interesting chart on wikipedia that gives info about all chillies and where they sit on the scale. Have a look here Scoville Scale
Anyway, I picked all the ripe ones, but there are at least a hundred more still ripening.
I have one plant that is a bit odd. The label I wrote and stuck in the pot says its a Habanero, but the chillis dont look like all the others so it must have been a random seed. Sadly although they look like they should be a nice hot fruit, they are very mild.
Next was the Habanero. I bought these seeds in Florida and I must say they grew beautifully and look amazing, but they have no heat in them at all. In fact they taste more like a sweet pepper. I decided to dry them anyway, and use them in dinners over the winter which require red pepper.
My haul so far was looking pretty good but it was time to pick some of the serious hitters..
First the rude chilli. I have one plant that again the fruits look different to the others of the same name, We have tried these and they are very very hot.
I picked a good handful from this plant. The other two with the correct anatomy, have about another 100
And finally the mother of all chilli's,, The Dorset Naga. This has a scoville rating of over 1,000,000. I picked one last week and used 1 tiny slice in a meal, we were all coughing and had running eyes and noses for ages!! I thought it was wonderful but everyone else said I was torturing them!!
Here is a basket of very hot peppers waiting to have something done to them. The tomatoes are for a sauce I was planning to make.
Well that was all the ripe stuff picked, and was only a small fraction of the chillies on the bushes. What shall I do with it? Well I have been planning on making a hot sauce, which I love, and had been researching recipes. I think I had found the one that would suit me, so the Naga were destined for that. The not so hot peppers, I was going to keep to use over the winter, and the inbetweenies, I wanted to make chilli flakes with for cooking. To dry all these, I needed a new gadget, so it was off to Mr google for a search and a bit of research. I also consulted the oracle on preserving Carl Legge and came up with the best solution for me.
A few days wait and the delivery man arrived with this
A dehydrator. And it appears you can dry and store all sorts of things. The chillies were prepared and then it was simply a matter of loading it up, setting the heat and waiting.
Whilst these were drying I used the Naga to make this sauce. It was rather potent. When I dropped them in the pan to cook, the smell caused the kitchen to be evacuated for a few minutes as it literally took my breath away!! The final product tastes amazing. I am going to be able to make gallons of the stuff with all those peppers.
Of course, now I needed something to put it in, I have been saving bottles all summer, but only have one suitable at the moment for the sauce, it was quickly filled and I had more, so I decided to freeze some. I didn't want to have to defrost a huge amount at one time, so I used an ice cube tray to freeze small portions.
After about 10 hours, the chillies in the dehydrator were nice and crispy. The mild ones were stored in old passata bottles.
And the hot ones were ground into flakes
I have never been able to grow enough store to store before, so I had a wonderful day doing this. Today I am going to use it again to make other things for storage.
Outside, the Rhubarb has continued to grow, The poor crowns need a rest, so I cut it all off and cooked it for freezing
I have sadly had a bit of a Brassica Massacre. I have protected my sprouts all summer from slugs and covered them in net to save them from butterflies. They have now got so big, the leaves are touching the net. I have seen loads of cabbage white butterflies hovering over them for days, and as I was walking past the bed the other day, I notice the crown of the plants had holes in
It seems the butterflies had managed to lay eggs on the leaves through the net and now I had these uninvited guests all over my sprouts.
I had to abandon plans to go out, whip off the net and spend an hour caterpillar hunting. I rather enjoyed squishing the little nibblers.. I also tried to wipe all the eggs I could see off the leaves. I have checked every day and so far, no more caterpillars.
Out and about this week we went to a wonderful seafood restaurant which is right on Chessil Beach in Dorset. It called The Crab House Cafe
and I knew I was in for a treat when my cutlery arrived.
Its not often you get a hammer as part of your place setting.
As my lunch was placed in front of me , I realised the combination of white t shirt, hammer and crab in spicy Chinese sauce was not going to be a good one .
It was delicious and amazingly I managed to avoid any canteen medals!!
Well thats all for this week, hope you all have a successful week preserving anything you have grown and getting the garden ready for the winter.