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Hot Summer, Hot Peppers, Help Needed

What would you do with a bumper crop of jalapeno peppers?

Coming from a family of farmers — my dad grew up on a dairy farm in New York's North Country and my brother grows acres of sweet corn in Rochester — you'd figure something green could flourish on my watch.

But this summer the only truly thriving crops on our slice of land seem to be weeds and jalapeno peppers.

I still have the poison ivy scars up and down my legs to remind me of my last weed-wacking session, but I don't have a "Hey, wear jeans next time" kind of strategy in place to deal with what promises to be a countertop full of ripe jalapeno peppers. 

It's an early photo accompanying this article, but one modest plant transformed from hosting a single cute baby bud to a home for more than 12 serious peppers in a matter of just a few weeks.

And she's not alone. Nearby, a dozen other plants my son started from seed promise the same yield. 

That's a lot of salsa.

Considering the fact children under the age of 10 might not be the most receptive audience to recipes packed with jalapeno peppers, no matter how much fun they had planting them and watching them grow, I'm assuming the adults in the house are on their own come harvest time.

So what's the best way to use up Mother Nature's spicy bounty that perhaps doesn't exclusively involve tomatoes, onions and cilantro or a chain restaurant-style, deep-fried "popper" treatment?

Have you ever tried jalapeno margaritas or jalapeno jelly — or maybe even jalapeno wine?

Your best tips and recipes can help me and your neighbors so I encourage you to share in the comments below.

(It can also help my neighbors as I will no doubt be leaving baskets of peppers on their doorsteps.)

I'll attempt to make the tastiest looking ones and report back on how well it worked — with photos.

What's growing well for you this summer?

Jodi Helman July 24, 2011 at 11:41 AM
Katie, Lucky you! How about slicing them in half, removing the seeds, laying them on a cookie sheet, and brushing with oil and salt. Roast in a 425 oven for 15 minutes, then turn and roast for another 10-15 minutes. Remove and pulse in a food processor until a rough paste. You now have a flavorful base for so many things -- dips, sauces, gravy. Add some to sour cream or Greek yogurt for a zesty dip, adding herbs such as cilantro or oregano. Freeze some to use over the winter. Enjoy! If you find you have way too many to ever use, your local foodbank might be happy to take them!
Ronnie Fein July 24, 2011 at 12:22 PM
Pepper Jam: 7 large red bell peppers, 10 jalapeno peppers, 1 tablespoon salt, 5 cups sugar, 2 cups vinegar, 3-ounce bottle liquid pectin. Remove stem and seeds from peppers. Chop peppers, sprinkle with salt and let rest for 3-4 hours. Drain. Place peppers in large saucepan. Add sugar and vinegar and bring to a boil. Boil for 6 minutes. Add pectin. Boil for 3 minutes. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Refrigerate when cool or use a water bath according to manufacturer's instructions. www.ronniefein.com
Katie Ryan O'Connor July 24, 2011 at 03:24 PM
Wow! Great suggestions both, thank you so much. Definitely trying as soon as we get a break in this dripping heat. I haven't turned on the stove in forever it seems -- a weird feeling. Last night all I could muster was store-bought rotisserie chicken made into a quick salad with cherry tomatoes, some mayo and whatever I could pluck from the containers on the deck — I chose basil, parsley and baby arugula chopped fine. Put it all on a baguette and called it dinner. (Added some jalepeno to mine, of course!) Made me wish I had planted some tarragon.
Jodi Helman July 24, 2011 at 04:22 PM
Speaking of rotisserie chicken: http://stamford.patch.com/articles/cool-it-down-at-dinner
Lorraine Zegibe July 24, 2011 at 05:32 PM
Coming from an Italian family - I grew up eating hot peppers. My grandmother would fry them up and then put out some fresh Italian bread, some provolone and genoa salami. When company would come, red wine was also involved. Heaven!

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