Growing sweet peppers makes me feel like Charlie Brown with his football. Remember how Lucy would coax Charlie into letting her set up the ball so he could run and kick it? And then at the last second, she always pulled it away so he went flying and landed on his back? Well, that’s me and peppers. Every year, I forget that last time I grew them, the plants took up alot of precious space and sulked through most of the summer. They might have produced a few little fruits, but never have I had a bumper crop. Every year I try again, hopeful and forgetful.
So imagine my delight when this week I found Canadian grown sweet peppers–beautiful red and green ones–on sale at the grocery store! They were much nicer than any I have ever grown and at a price that made me want to buy them by the bushel (thankfully I resisted).
I spent a good chunk of my day off this week putting those peppers to good use. Aside from eating them raw and in stir fries and in fajitas as our family likes to do, I had set aside enough to make a batch of pepper jelly. Sometimes it is called “Christmas pepper jelly” because it uses both red and green peppers. I don’t care much about the colour–I just know it tastes great with cream cheese on crackers. Yum!
It felt strange canning when there was no more fresh produce available from my garden or local farms (unless I wanted to make leek jelly, although I suspect that wouldn’t be terribly popular). It felt even stranger when I tasted it. It seems I went a little overboard on the heat. Whoops.
I have never been one to eat spicy food–I grew up in a house where salt and pepper were considered “spices” and even apple pie didn’t have cinnamon. New friends have introduced me to Indian food, however, and I have come to love sushi with its requisite wasabi. So as I made my jelly, I wanted to be sure it had a bit of a kick to it.
First, I added some jalepenos. I included the seeds, too, because that’s where the heat is. Then I thought to myself that it couldn’t possibly be spicy enough yet. Rummaging around in the kitchen I found habanero sauce. “That ought to do the trick,” I said as I poured some in. Then, when I wasn’t convinced that it was going to be as hot as I wanted, I remembered that I had some whole dried cayenne peppers from the garden still waiting to be used. Ha! Now it will be spicy enough!
Remember how I said I have never been one for spicy food? Well, if I’m going to enjoy this pepper jelly it had better come with alot of cream cheese. Or maybe I will just take it with me as a hostess gift when I am invited out for dinner. No matter what it tastes like, those Canadian sweet peppers sure look pretty in the jar. And I suppose a little indigestion is worth it when I think about how hard it must have been for someone to grow those big, beautiful peppers.