Squirrel It Away

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I have had a very productive weekend.  Following on from yesterday’s post about the Tabasco sauce I wanted to show you my other achievements in the kitchen.

The bell chillies were dried and the 4 trays of sliced chillies ended up reducing to this.

2012-02-05 01I then ground them in the spice grinder attachment for my food processor.

2012-02-05 02This is what I ended up with.  45g of powdered chilli – grown about 20 metres from the back door with no chemical sprays.  The smaller jar is the residue after I had sieved it mixed with some avocado oil.  I will use the chilli oil to add a little bit of flavour when cooking.

2012-02-05 03Today we went to the Caboolture Markets.  I bought the fruit and vegetables that I needed as well as 9kg of tomatoes.  These were being sold for 99c/kg so I filled my Ecosilk bag.

2012-02-05 04I decided to make tomato pasta sauce that I will be able to use in a variety of ways.  The ingredients are tomatoes, onions, basil, tomato paste and red wine.  The onions were from our crop last winter which were diced and frozen, the basil from the garden, tomato paste and red wine from the cupboard.

I forgot to take any photos as I was working flat out to get this done this afternoon but here is the end result.

2012-02-05 05The sauce in the plastic containers will be frozen and the jars of sauce were processed in a hot water bath so they will be stored in the cupboard.  This was my first attempt at processing anything in a hot water bath.  I am confident that it has worked well as the pop-tops have all been vacuum sealed.

I am definitely going to do some more research and learn more about this method.  It means that I can preserve food without using the freezer and being reliant on a consistent supply of electricity.  There is also a small matter of available space in the freezer, too.

Any tips or recommendations of resources on preserving would be appreciated.

A Chilli Kind of Day

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I went down to the garden this morning to pick the bell chillies. Here they are ready for me to slice and de-seed them.

2012-02-04 01While I was picking them I noticed the other chilli bush which I call Birdseye chillies.  I have never picked or used them as I am sure they would be too hot.  The bush looks pretty in the garden, especially as the chillies ripen.

2012-02-04 02Here is the bush after I had picked most of the red ones.  I decided to check Google and see if I could make Tabasco sauce as I knew I was getting to the point where I would need to buy some more.  Sure enough, there are dozens of recipes on the internet so I decided to try it.  From the photos I saw on the internet my bush is what are called tabasco chillies in the USA.

First I covered my hands with a couple of bread bags and secured them with rubber bands.

2012-02-04 03Then I set to work.

2012-02-04 04Here are 4 trays of sliced and de-seeded bell chillies ready to go in the dehydrator.  Once they are dried I will be grinding them to make chilli powder.

I adapted a couple of recipes I found for the tabasco sauce and this is my version.

TABASCO SAUCE

150g of hot chillies
2/3 cup white vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup white vinegar, extra

2012-02-04 05Chop the chillies (including seeds) roughly (I actually put them in whole), place in a small saucepan with vinegar and salt.  Bring to the boil, simmer gently for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Blend until smooth.  Add another 2/3 cup vinegar and combine.  Press through a fine strainer.  Discard the residue.  Pour liquid into sterilised bottles.  Store for 2 weeks before use.

2012-02-04 06WARNING:  THIS IS VERY HOT!!

Another Step to Self-reliance

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Here is my latest acquisition – a food dehydrator.

2012-02-02 01I have dreamed of getting one for many years but it has never quite made to the top of my list of priorities.

My girlfriend had this one which she no longer used and asked if I was interested so I bought it from her.  I have lots of ideas of things I will be able to do but my first project on the weekend will be to pick the ripe bell chillies and dehydrate them.  I intend to grind them once they are dried, using the spice grinder attachment for my food processor.  Hopefully, powdered chilli will be another thing that I can cross off my shopping list forever.

Do you have a dehydrator?  I would love to hear how you use it.  Please share your ideas, successes and any failures.