Pepper Jelly: From Garden to Jar

Pepper jelly is one of those treats that we just love to make, eat, and give away, as it just leads to good time and memories. I use Jalapeno peppers fresh from the garden to make it. If you don’t have any in the garden, then pick some up at the grocery store, or use some other kind of peppers, and make yourself some pepper jelly. Eating pepper jelly with Ritz crackers over cream cheese is just delicious. Plain and simple, its good stuff.

Click here to see the YouTube video!

Harvesting the Peppers

First step in this process is to go into the backyard and harvest some Jalapenos from my organic raised-bed garden. I have 8 Jalapeno plants in my garden including Craig’s Grande, Pumpkin Spice, Orange Spice, and Brown Jalapeño varieties.

Harvesting fresh jalapenos from the garden to make pepper jelly
Picking some fresh Jalepeno peppers
Harvesting fresh jalapenos from the garden to make pepper jelly
Picking some fresh Jalepeno peppers

Preparing the Ingredients

The two main items to prepare before cooking is to prepare the peppers and prepare the jars. There is plenty of heat in Jalapeno peppers so we will want to remove the seeds and membrane. Then we’ve got to dice them up. Note: Do yourself a favor and put on some gloves as you work with the peppers so you won’t burn yourself up every time you touch your fingers to your face (or elsewhere)!

Removing seeds from Jalapeno peppers to make pepper jelly
Removing seeds from Jalapeño peppers (use gloves)
Diced up Jalapenos (I doubled the recipe)

The other primary task is to prepare the jars by sterilizing the jars, lids, and rings in boiling water or in your dishwasher.

Cooking it Up

The recipe for cooking the pepper jelly up is really simple. You only have a few ingredients including peppers, sugar, vinegar, and liquid pectin. The basis for the recipe did come from a really good book, Complete Book of Home Preserving, where I learned a lot about canning and other preservation methods. I doubled the recipe as well since I had plenty of peppers. You pretty much bring everything to boil except the pectin. Then that’s added under boil for about a minute. Next, you are ready to transfer to the jars.

Cooking pepper jelly
Cooking the pepper jelly
Adding liquid pectin to pepper jelly
Adding the liquid pectin to the pepper jelly

Canning Pepper Jelly

The final part is to fill your jars with the pepper jelly, wipe the rim, place the lid on and screw the ring on finger tight. Next transfer them to the canner where they are to be processed (boiled) for a minimum of 10 minutes.

Transferring pepper jelly into 1/2 pint jars leaving 1/2" head space
Put pepper jelly into jars leaving 1/2″ head space
Removing processed pepper jelly from canner
Removing them from the Canner
Pepper Jelly over Cream Cheese with Crackers

Pepper Jelly

This pepper jelly recipe uses fresh jalapeños from my garden to make some excellent pepper jelly you can enjoy year around. It is a favorite at our house over cream cheese and crackers. It's a staple in south Louisiana for LSU football watching parties and holiday snacks.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 15 mins
Canning time 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr 25 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 12

Ingredients
  

  • 12 oz Jalepeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and deveined Wear latex gloves while processing the peppers
  • 2 cups Vinegar, Apple Cider
  • 6 cups Sugar, Granulated
  • 2 pouches Liquid Pectin each 3 oz.
  • 1 box Crackers, Ritz Can be substituted with any other crackers
  • 1 box Cream Cheese

Instructions
 

  • Prepare canner, jars and lids. Makes about five 8-ounce jars.
  • Dice up peppers finely.
  • In a large, deep stainless steel or ceramic saucepan, combine peppers, apple cider vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in pectin. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat
  • Quickly pour hot jelly into jars, leaving 1/2" headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until finger-tight,
  • Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.
  • Serve over cream cheese with crackers.
Keyword AMERICAN, Appetizer, crackers, cream cheese, Jalepeno, jelly, pepper, pepper jelly, snack, spicy

This makes a great gift or serve your pepper jelly poured over some cream cheese, with crackers, and make memories with your family and friends.  Please let us know how you like this post or have suggestions on future posts. Please visit our YouTube channel as well.

Enjoy! Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it!

Check out my other garden to jar post here (Salsa Verde).

Please LIKE this post. If you have any COMMENTS or QUESTIONS, please post below. Please SUBSCRIBE to our BLOG for additional great content.

Make Beer at Home: Review of Chocolate Maple Porter Beer Kit

My daughter was so kind to give me a Chocolate Maple Porter Beer Kit from www.BrooklynBrewShop.com for Christmas. Unfortunately, I put it in the pantry, it got covered up, and I forgot about it. I was digging through looking for something else and found it again. I thought I would add a post showing how the kit worked and the overall process of making beer at home. This is a first time for me making beer.

Beer Making Kit

Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Chocolate Maple Porter Bear Making Kit

The Beer Making Kit has just about everything that you need to brew the beer. The Beer Making Kit comes with:

  • Grain, hops, and yeast for your first batch
  • Racking cane
  • Thermometer
  • Tubing Clamp
  • Glass fermenting jug
  • Cleanser/Sanitizer
  • Airlock
  • Clear vinyl tubing
  • Screw-cap stopper

You will also need the following but is not included in the Brew Kit:

  • 6-quart pot
  • Strainer, fine mesh (large)
  • Funnel
  • Maple Syrup
  • Bottles and caps

Making the Mash

Making the Mash involves cooking the grain to extract all the sugars, color and flavor. It is cooked at a controlled temperature using a thermometer. You may have to throttle the heat back and forth to ensure it maintains a temperature range of 144-152°F for 60 minutes.

Making the mash

The Sparge

The Sparge step is what creates the wort (the beer). You take the mash from the first step and place it in a fine strainer. Next, your pour hot water over the mash in order to extract all those sugars, colors and flavor into your wort.

Straining the sparge with hot water

This is where I had some difficulty. The strainer that I used just barely held all of the sparge. So, as I poured the hot water over it, the water wanted to wash the sparge over the top of the strainer. I just had to go real slow and I put some cheesecloth between the strainer and a colander to prevent the sparge from getting into the wort. Note: the wort already tasted pretty good.

Straining the wort

The Boil

The Boil step is pretty straightforward and that’s where we bring the wort to a boil and add in the hops and maple syrup. Once you get it to a rapid boil, you cut the heat back to a light boil and add in 3/4 of the Hops. The remaining Hops is added after 45 minutes. Finally, 15 minutes later, turn off the heat and add the maple syrup.

About to add the hops to the wort

Fermentation

The fermentation process is when we add the yeast to the wort and fermentation of sugar to alcohol occurs. We utilize the fermentation jug that comes with the kit. We cool the wort after the boil down to 70°F. Transfer the wort to the jug. Next we “pitch” the yeast into the wort in the jug.

“Pitching” the yeast

Once the yeast is added, you need to shake the jug aggressively to mix yeast and get more air into the wort.

Shaking Jug Aggressively (this is my best “shaking the jug aggressively” face)

Next, we attach the screw-top stopper to the jug. Place the rubber tubing into the opening on the screw-top no more than 1″ deep. You place the other end of the tubing in a small bowl of sanitizer solution. This setup allows the CO2 to escape. Let the jug with the tubing arrangement sit for 2 or 3 days. The fermentation process is in full gear and you will see CO2 gas bubbling vigorously in the sanitizer solution.

First 2 or 3 days of fermentation – Bubbling away (see the bubbles?)

After 2 to 3 days of bubbling (it will slow up), remove the tubing and put on the airlock by pushing it into the screw-top’s hole. Place the jug in a dark place at room temperature for 2 weeks.

Jug after sitting for 2 weeks on dark room temperature location, with airlock on it.

Bottling

You siphon the beer using the tubing and the racking cane to a pot that contains 3 tablespoons of maple syrup. This mixes the maple syrup with the beer giving the yeast a “wake-up” call allowing for carbonation to build up once siphoned in the bottles and capped. The bottles are then sealed and stowed away for 2 more weeks to build up some carbonation.

Siphoning beer into pot to mix with additional maple syrup
Siphoning beer into the bottles
Putting lids on the bottles

This is the other problem I had in this beer brewing experiment. The lids on a few of these bottles must not have sealed well as they turned out flat (no fizz, bummer, still tasted pretty good though). These bottles have been used numerous times so the lids may be getting a bit worn out.

Conclusion

Beer brewing at home is fun but does require a little bit of work on your behalf. Patience is also required as it takes 4 weeks at least to allow the two stages of fermentation to run its course. The steps as explained on BrooklynBrewShop.Com’s website was satisfactory in describing the steps but you have to try out a few of the steps first before it makes total sense (e.g. siphoning beer using the racking cane, tubing, and sanitizing solution).

BrooklynBrewShop.Com’s Chocolate Maple Porter beer did taste excellent. It was somewhat rich and chocolatey with a slight undertone of sweetness. Note: the dark chocolate flavor does come from a small amount of Chocolate Malt.

Will I do this again? Absolutely! Now that I better understand the process, I intend to try this out again with a different type of beer but maybe with some new bottles and caps this time.

********************************************

Now, enjoy the simple life and make memories by sitting with your family or friends, and sipping on a Chocolate Maple Porter beer that you made with your own hands.  Please let us know how you like this post or have suggestions on future posts.

Enjoy! Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it!

Please LIKE this post. If you have any COMMENTS or QUESTIONS, please post below. Please SUBSCRIBE to our BLOG for additional great content.

How to make Egg Drop Soup with Pork Belly

Egg drop soup is such a mainstay of eating at Chinese food buffets. We don’t go out to eat too often now days with COVID-19 lurking around and also trying to watch our weight (go down, not up). So, when I came across a pork belly calling my name at Costco, I knew one of the menu items for our family gathering was to be Egg Drop Soup with Pork Belly. This post shows you the recipe for how to make an incredible homemade egg drop soup with pork belly.

Homemade Egg Drop Soup with Pork Belly - Ready to Serve
Egg Drop Soup with Pork Belly (and fall decorations)

Chinese Cuisine Theme Menu

I used pork belly in various ways to showcase pork belly for my family. The menu included:

Homemade Egg Drop Soup with pork belly as part of Chinese Cuisine lineup.
Homemade Egg Drop Soup wit Pork Belly as part of Chinese Cuisine lineup with pork belly

This post provides details on how to cook Egg Drop Soup with pork belly. It really an easy process and is so delicious. The browned crispy pork belly provided a real depth to the soup’s flavor.

Preparation

The soup really doesn’t take much time to make so I went ahead and got everything ready. I ended up using Swanson Chicken Broth which turned out to be a good choice as it by itself is pretty tasty. To prep, I went ahead and chopped up a good bit of green onion, as the bottom ends go into the soup while cooking, and the tops go in at the end for flavor and for garnish.

Homemade egg drop soup with pork belly - adding chicken broth

Getting prepped to start Egg Drop Soup

Putting the Soup Together

Cut up about 1/2 lb. of pork belly into small bite size pieces. Add the pork belly into a pot on high and cook the pork belly until they are browned and a little crisp. You do not need to add any oil as pork belly has adequate fat. I cooked the pork belly in a cast iron pot. Once cooked, put them in a colander and let the grease drain.

Meanwhile, bring your broth up to a boil and add in the chopped bottoms from the green onions, garlic, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, turmeric powder, black pepper and tamari sauce. Add the pork belly pieces as well. Let it cook on medium high for 10 minutes. Mix up the corn starch and water and begin to add a little at a time until you reach the consistency that you desire.

Homemade egg drop soup with pork belly - adding garlic
Adding minced Garlic

Finishing the Egg Drop Soup

The final step in finishing the egg drop soup is to “drop the egg”. I prefer a lot of eggs to be dropped in my soup. Take 6 or however many eggs you want and scramble them with a fork. Ensure the soup is at medium-high temperature. Using a spoon, stir the soup, and drizzle the egg mixture into the soup.

Making egg drop soup - adding eggs
Dropping the eggs into the soup

Serve the soup in a small bowl, making sure there is plenty of egg and pork belly in each bowl. Add some chopped green onion tops and you will have a soup to remember!

Ready to serve - egg drop soup with pork belly
Served up Egg Drop Soup with Pork Belly and fresh Green Onions

Egg Drop Soup with Pork Belly

Traditional egg drop soup is kicked up a notch by using browned pork belly. The pork belly adds a real depth to the flavor.
Course Soup
Cuisine Chinese

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 lb. Pork belly, cut into small bite-size pieces
  • 6 Cups Chicken broth
  • 3 stalks Green Onion (chopped)
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2/3 tsp Sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp Rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Mostly for color
  • 6 Eggs I like lots of eggs
  • 3 tbsp Corn starch
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tbsp Tamari Sauce Soy sauce can be substituted
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper

Instructions
 

  • Add pork belly pieces in pre-heated pot on high and cook until browned. Keep stirring the pork belly so it doesn't stick to the bottom. You may need to throttle the temperate back down a bit if it gets too hot. Note: Oil is not needed as the pork belly has plenty of fat already.
  • Add chicken broth to pot and bring to a simmer. Stir in about 1/2 of the green onions, minced garlic, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, tamari, turmeric, and black pepper.
  • Mix together the corn starch and water. Stir the soup continuously as you drizzle in the cornstarch/water mixture or you may get lumps of cornstarch in your soup. I typically add about half of this amount and check consistency after a couple of minutes then add more as needed.
  • Get your eggs and mix them up in a bowl. Some like to lightly beat the eggs so you still somewhat have a separation of egg whites and yokes. I just mix them up like scrambled eggs.
  • Drizzle the eggs in as you are stirring the egg drop soup so it creates more swirls and doesn't settle up on the bottom of the pot. Do this step right before you are ready to serve.
  • Ladle the egg drop soup into bowls, top with chopped green onion, and serve!
Keyword Chinese, Egg Drop Soup, Pork Belly, Soup

Now, enjoy the simple life by sitting with your family or friends, and eating some good egg drop soup with pork belly and fresh green onions.  Please let us know how you like this post or have suggestions on future posts.

Enjoy! Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it!

Please LIKE this post. If you have any COMMENTS or QUESTIONS, please post below. Please SUBSCRIBE to our BLOG for additional great content.

Roasted Salsa Verde – From Garden to the Jar

Salsa Verde is a sauce or salsa made from tomatillos that you might recognize as that delicious greenish salsa you dip your tortilla chips in at your favorite Mexican restaurant.  Other common uses include as an enchilada sauce, salsa for tacos, and a cooking sauce for chicken, pork or fish.  There is nothing more satisfying than growing your own produce, using it to cook up something delicious and canning it to last throughout the year.  This post will show you how to do just that.  Please see our YouTube video for more information on how to make Roasted Salsa Verde.

Tortilla chips with Salsa Verde
Eggs and Bacon – with, of course, Salsa Verde

Each year I grow tomatillos in the garden to use for my Salsa Verde.  I start the tomatillos from seed about 6-8 weeks before the last freeze in my area of Louisiana, which is Zone 9A.  I grow Amarylla (yellow), Verde (green), and Purple Coban (purple) types of tomatillos.  They are very prolific and produce lots of golf ball sized or smaller fruit and will keep producing until fall.  You know when they are ready to be harvested when you see the outer papery husk splitting showing the ripened fruit.  They can be found at most grocery stores and some farmer’s markets if you can’t harvest them from your home garden.  You will need about 2 lbs of tomatillo’s. Other items from the garden include 3 to 4 jalapenos (seeds removed), 2 medium sized onions, 2 bell peppers and 4 to 5 cloves of garlic or fewer if you use elephant garlic.

Ripe Amarylla Tomatillo from the garden
Unripe Tomatillos growing in the organic backyard raised bed garden

The first step in the cooking process include roasting your tomatillos and other vegetables.  Tomatillos can be roasted whole or quartered, depending on the size.  I put the tomatillos and other vegetables on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil, sprayed with olive or avocado oil.  I put them in the oven and roast them about 10 to 15 minutes on 550° F roast setting.  I keep an eye on them to make sure they are getting a bit of char on them while not burning.  Char, not burn, equals flavor.

Roasted Tomatillo’s
Roasted onions, bell peppers, jalapeño’s and elephant garlic

Next step, I put all the vegetables and their juice in my Ninja blender and blend to a slightly chunky consistency.  You can blend it to whatever consistency you desire.  Transfer over to a non-reactive pot on the stove.  Add in a 1 cup of distilled vinegar, juice from a fresh lime, and finely chopped cilantro.  Add about a teaspoon of  ground cumin, a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix it up and bring the Salsa Verde up to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes or until desired consistency is achieved.

Note: This version of Salsa Verde is not a green as typical as I used red and yellow bell peppers and jalepeno’s. Don’t get hung up on the color, rather focus on the taste!

Salsa Verde cooking on the stove
Salsa Verde cooking on the stove, with fresh cilantro about to be stirred in

Meanwhile, prepare your jars by placing in boiling water or in your dishwasher.  I use a pressure canner myself but have used the boiling water canning process as well.  Pour the hot Salsa Verde into your hot jars using a canning funnel leaving 1/2 inch minimum of head space (from top of jar to the level of the Salsa Verde).  Always use a clean and new lid.  Finger tighten a ring onto the jar. Carefully lower the jars into the hot water bath with at least 1 inch of water covering the jars.  Process the jars for 20 minutes.  Remove from the hot water and allow to cool completely.  You should here a “tink” as the jars start cooling.  If one of them does not, you will want to refrigerate that jar and use within a week or so.  Also, please make sure you label your jars so you know what it is and when it was canned. Otherwise, the Salsa Verde will be good for up to a year.

The canned Salsa Verde along with some others from the garden.

Now, with your favorite beverage, pop open a bag of chips, and indulge in something made with your own two hands.  Please let us know how you like this post or have suggestions on future posts. Please visit our YouTube channel for video content of this post.

Enjoy! Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it!

Please LIKE this post. If you have any COMMENTS or QUESTIONS, please post below. Please SUBSCRIBE to our BLOG for additional great content.

Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.