Into the life of every pepper patch comes The Big Freeze. Sometimes it’s early, like a cruel early October frost. Sometimes it’s later. Sometimes you can forestall the inevitable by covering the plants. But it’s coming. And you cannot hide from it.
You should take it with dignity and grace. After all, your pepper patch has kept you in peppers (and blog posts) for months on end. This post will show you the proper way to bring a proper end to your Summer of Peppers.
It will be helpful to my fellow pepper enthusiasts to provide a summary of the peppers in my patch.
I had two plants that produced. They were very prolific with large fruits about half the size of a bell pepper and a rich dark green color. I liked to get a dozen or so large ones and make Chili Relenos As the days got cooler. the fruits get smaller, and I usually just dry them for ancho chili powder. Two plants are plenty for my family.
I planted six of these and five produced. They are extremely prolific, and look like dark green banana peppers, which will turn red and sweet when left to ripen. They are not very hot, and are great for stuffing, roasting, baking and frying. The last fruits of the year are typically smaller with tougher skins. I pick these and roast them on the grill. After removing the skins, I can them and keep them in the fridge to use whenever roasted peppers are called for.
I planted six of these and four produced. They are also very prolific, and turn a bright red when ripe. I pick the red ones starting in August and dry them in the dehydrator. At the end of the season, I grind them in a food processor and give bottles of red pepper flakes away as Christmas presents. At the end of the season, I pick them all; red and green, dry them and grind them into chili powder.
The Jalapenos and Serranos
I planted six jalapeno plants, but only two really did well. I planted four serranos, and while they all grew well, the fruits refused to turn red this year. I typically slice them into rings and cold pickle them. I put up about six quarts this summer. The last bunch were mostly green serranos which I dried and ground fine, which makes for a very tasty chili powder.
The Hungarian Wax
These are usually very heavy producers, but not so much this year. The Pennsylvania summer was cool and wet, and I don’t think it was great for banana peppers. My four plants finally started producing in September, and we stuffed them with sausage, and pickled them stuffed with sauerkraut.
I planted six of these, and three produced. One produced on steroids. I usually picked a pint or so each week and sauteed them with olive oil and garlic. The last fruits were so plentiful, that my wife, Denise, decided to cut them into rings and fry them with sausage and onions. This was absolutely out of this world!
The Last Pick
Here in south-western Pennsylvania, Poor Richard tells me I have a 50% chance of freezing over-night temperatures by October 14, and a 90% chance by November 1. This year, my patch stayed intact until tonight, November 10. When you see it coming, you go out and pick all the useful peppers you can find. I set the tone by telling my back porch Echo, “Alexa, play ‘This is the End” by the Doors'”, I then take my picking bucket and set to work.
Well you can see that I brought in quite a haul.
I like to dehydrate the cayennes. The green ones, I will grind into powder, and the reds will join my stash for grinding into flakes.
The rest are mostly green serranos. These, I will cut these into rings and pickle. They are typically a bit smaller and hotter than the jalapenos, but they are still very good on nachos.
And finally, what do you do with all those shishitos? Well, we cut them into rings and fried them up with some onions and sausage. And they were just great! I’m going to try to freeze the rest of them with hope we can fry them up at a later time.
So say goodbye to this year’s patch. Enjoy the canned and dried fruits of your labors. And get ready for another bumper crop next year.
Day Tripping with Rick in the Pepper Patch