Thursday, September 16, 2010

Preserved for posterity

During my recent travels I was wandering around a farmer's market with a friend who has this idea to make her own rooster sauce. I enjoy making these things too, and as we looked at the peppers it came upon our brains that perhaps we could buy them and smuggle them onto a plane to take them home.

As it turns out you can take food onto airplanes.

I use a lot of rooster sauce, I put it in sir fries, soups, chili and use it as a dipping sauce. There are a couple of problems with making your own rooster sauce: you need to find the right peppers to get the right taste, purchasing/growing your own peppers is incredibly vexing here in the northwest. Of course I want organic peppers, and being that there's not really anyone who grows peppers up here I would have to travel to where they are being sold. I suppose I could have them shipped, but the assurance of quality would be lost. I would expect if you went to a high end grocery store you could find a larger selection of peppers, even organic, but the problem is still present that those peppers were not picked ripe. This is actually a giant peeve of mine. Allow me to get out my soap box.

When you go to the grocery store and attempt to purchase produce, it is often an inferior product. A certain unnamed major chain claims to inspect the produce five times before it gets to you. This guarantees that the produce is picked green, so they have time to inspect it before you look at it, and that the price will be substantially increased to compensate for the needless produce poking. Produce shipped from long distances will never shine like the original fruit, tree/bush ripened, and picked at the peak of perfection. I think someone actually claims that and then ships thing worldwide. You might wonder why when you go to Mexico that they have the most fantastic avocados. That when you are in Washington that the apples are so perky, that in Florida they have wonderful oranges, and why you can get the most amazing pineapples in Jamaica. I will type this slowly so that everyone can understand: when you plan to ship produce long distances it has to ripen on the way, and that means it's picked before it's ripe. Another trick is to spray the produce with various gasses to prevent ripening during shipping, and then a different gas to help the produce ripen when it arrives at it's destination. The solution is to shop local from markets, grow your own produce, and steer clear of supermarkets. Eat local, it's the only way. I will now get off my soap box, thank you.

San Francisco is not a hot area, and to grow hot peppers you need hot weather. So as I looked at the misshapen peppers (I don't mind, I'm going to grind them anyhow) in the bargain bags I realize that it is going to cost me/my hubby around a few hundred dollars a jar to make this sauce. Then again, I could look at the situation that I'm on vacation and now I get to make a few jars of this sauce, something that would not be as easy to do if I were not visiting this wonderful area.

The nice farmer did not have the right peppers, so I knew when I started out that I was not going to be making rooster sauce, but rather a red pepper sauce. It did turn out well, and it's very tasty and sweet, being that I used a lot of sweet peppers.

I did a lot of pickling yesterday, as I do enjoy pickles and I need to have pickled jalapenos. I love pickled jalapenos, they are a staple in my house. I think they work best in scrambles and the like, but if you're looking to make a quick and dirty taco they sure help out. I also like to eat them, but the way I eat them, I always run out. They also come in cans, so I have to move my pickles from one container to another, and I think they pick up a distinct metallic taste. The solution is clearly to make my own. Another issue, they NEVER put enough onion in those things. Pickled onion with jalapenos is like pure ambrosia, yet they're packing in a measly strip or two.

I also pickled garlic. I'm not sure what I'll do with it, but since you can buy a giant pack of peeled garlic at the pan Asian grocery store down the way, it seemed a logical progression for me.

You might begin to wonder why I'm telling you all this: because I used one vinegar base to make all three types of preserves and it took me about 2 hours to make everything. I am actually going to give you the recipe for the jalapenos and garlic, but not the pepper paste, I made it up from my head after hearing the recipe read to me from my friend's phone: peppers, vinegar, garlic; I have confidence in your Google skills. Also I got a random assortment of peppers, I have no idea what types.

Pickled Jalapenos and Garlic


2 C. water
1 Tbs citric acid
2 C. brown rice vinegar
1 C. unfiltered apple cider vinegar
2 C. white vinegar
1/2 C. Splenda
1/4 C. organic sugar
20 sliced jalapenos
4 Tbs minced garlic
1 thin sliced onion
3 cups peeled garlic
dill seed
mustard seed
red chili flake
several canning jars, lids and rings


Heat your oven to 225, put your washed jars in the oven. Put your rings and lids in a water bath (washed of course). Heat the rings and lids over low. Get your water bather going now.

Slice your jalapenos and put them in one bowl. Slice the onion and put it in a different bowl, put the minced garlic in a small bowl and the peeled garlic in it's own bowl.

In a large pot heat the water, citric acid, sugar, splenda and all of the vinegars to boiling.

Remove one jar from the oven. Set it on a towel. Put a small scoop of hot liquid into the jar. This is very important as you do not want to put cool vegetables into a hot jar without a buffer. This will ensure that you don't break a jar. In the bottom of the jar put a dab of minced garlic and a few strips of onion. Get out your chopsticks and arrange the onion to take up as little space as possible, put in a handful of jalapenos, arrange to take up as little space as possible and then add more onions. Continue in this method until you have the jar pretty full, about 1/2 inch from the top. Pour hot liquid over the vegetables and wipe the rim with a damp cloth. Add one ring and one lid. Finish up the jalapenos. Water bath for 10 minutes. If you need better canning directions go look on the internet.

For the garlic, it's the same method, a bit of liquid, a few slices of onion and then fill the jar 1/2 way with garlic. At this time you might want to infuse each jar a special way with dill, mustard or chili flake. The choices are up to you. After you do or do not add spices fill the jar 1/2 inch from the top with garlic and then cover with hot liquid, water bath for 15 minutes.

Allow all your jars to cool over night before removing the rings. Test each one for seal and if they aren't sealed put them in the fridge and eat them in a few days.

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