Sunday, July 17, 2005

Roasted Red Peppers

Roasted Red Peppers

Sometimes I do things on the spur of the moment that halfway through the process I say to myself “what was I thinking?” Today was just such a day.

I was doing my grocery shopping and saw that red peppers were on sale. Eager to enjoy some roasted red peppers and remembering that I had some unused mason jars at home I bought 20 peppers, yes 20. This should have been my “what am I thinking” moment but unfortunately it wasn’t. I brought my windfall home, found a recipe for pickled roasted red peppers and set to work.

I read through the recipe and realized I didn’t have the white wine I needed (1 ½ cups). So off to the liquor store. On the way I decided to keep on going to Halifax – I didn’t have a large enough pot to process the jars but my Mom did so I would borrow hers. Keep in mind that I’m not on my own during all this. I have 2 children, 4 & 8 years old who find all this incredibly dull and aren’t the least bit hesitant to let me know how excruciatingly boring their day is because of Mom’s spur of the moment idea. This, again, should have been a “what am I thinking” moment but alas, I had 20 peppers waiting for me at home. So I soldiered on.

Back at home I begin cutting the peppers and preparing them for roasting. Did you know that twenty peppers is a lot of peppers? I also have to prepare the jars, the lids and the pickling liquid, 2 kids’ snacks and 2 loads of laundry. How’s that for multitasking? It also takes longer than I expected to roast the peppers, let them cool and then peel the skin off of them. Did I mention that it is hot and humid today and we don’t have air conditioning? Up to my elbows in red pepper goop, it is approaching dinnertime and there is no dinner on the go. I don’t think the children will eat roasted red pepper salad without a fuss so I make cheese sandwiches, hotdogs and chocolate milk just to keep them compliant. I need to finish this. So much for the Mommy of the Year award – maybe another time. This is my “what was I thinking” moment but it is too late to quit now, I’m almost done.

The peppers are roasted, peeled and ready for the jars. The recipe said 4 jars but I have enough for 8. I scramble to find more jars and lids, sterilize them then pack them full of peppers and pickling liquid. I process them in a water bath for 15 minutes and am rewarded with the pop of the lids sealing as everything cools. I now have eight jars of beautiful red peppers that would make Martha Stewart proud. There is also some wine left over so I pour myself a glass and toast my achievement. I start thinking that I should enter my pickled peppers in one of those country fair competitions, if only I knew of a country fair nearby. Hmm, I wonder what is going to be on sale tomorrow? There are a lot of great recipes in this book….wait, stop me….WHAT AM I THINKING?

In case you are interested, here is the recipe:

f you have read this far and still want the recipe, here it is (courtesy of Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving):

20 medium sweet red peppers, 8lb or 3.6 kg
4 large cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups each of white vinegar, apple cider vinegar and dry white wine
1/2 cup water
1 cup onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp dried oregano
4 tsp pickling salt

Cut peppers in half, core and seed and place on cookie sheet skin side up. Roast peppers and garlic over hot coals or undre broiler until charred. Place peppers in a paper bag until cool enough to handle. Squeeze roasted garlic cloves to remove from peel; mash and set aside. When peppers are cooled, remove skins and cut lengthwise in serving sized pieces.

Place 4 (in my case 8) 500ml size mason jars on a rack in a boiling water canner; cover jars with water and heat to a simmer. Set screw bands aside; heat lids in hot water, NOT boiling. Keep jars and lids hot until read to use.

Combine garlic, white and cider vinegars, wine, water, onion, sugar, oregano and pickling salt in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil; boil gently 5 minutes and remove from heat.

Pack roasted peppers into a hot jar to within 2 cm of top rim. Add hot pickling liquid to cover peppers to within 1 cm of top rim. Using a wooden skewer or non metallic utensil, remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim removing any stickiness. Centre lid on jar; apply screw band securely and firmly until resistance is met. Place jar in canner and repeat for remaining peppers and hot liquid.

Cover canner; bring water to a boil. Process for 15 minutes. Remove jars without tilting. Cool upright, undisturbed for 24 hours. After cooling check jar seals. Sealed lids curve downward.

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