It’s been a hot couple weeks here in beautiful McDowell County in West Virginia. Lori here as your guide in what not to do with hot peppers.

We have been blessed (or cursed as my lovely assistant Crystal would say) with an abundance of peppers of all shapes, sizes and colors. Most of them are extremely hot, although we did have a bushel of bell peppers to sort of balance it out.

We have found out many wonderful tips and things with all these peppers, some are no-brainers, which is great for us because I swear we are lacking in brains, and some will make you say “huh”, or in some cases, “holy (choice of expletives) that is hot.”

Lesson one in prepping peppers for various canning recipes: Your facility may be kid friendly, but by all that is holy do not let a small child in the same room where you are seeding these hot peppers. Little hands are quick, and have no fear about picking up a handful of pepper guts. The fun begins when the same child who has been told no repeatedly sticks those same hands in their mouth before you can wash them. I’m so glad our kitchen doesn’t have windows because the sounds coming from this child that has it’s tongue melting out of it’s face would surely break glass.

Lesson two would be to wear gloves, more than one pair at a time is best. I don’t care how careful you are, those gloves are going to leak and you will suffer greatly. Some excruciating things that may happen after glove removal and hand washing include the following: your eye will itch, and you will rub it, only to find that someone poured molten lava onto your eyeball, you may need to blow your nose to find that you should have sprung for the more costly tissues, nostril fire is not pleasant. We’ll not discuss the restroom issues that can occur.

Lesson three, seriously y’all please pay attention here! If you all save your peppers seeds like we do, don’t try to short cut your seed saving ways. take your time, pick them off the guts by hand. Never think to yourself then put into actions this thought “hey, I wonder if using the salad spinner would make this easier.” If you do think it, and someone says “I don’t know, it couldn’t hurt to try.” DO NOT DO IT!! Yes, I thought it, yes I was told it couldn’t hurt to try, yes I did it. Well, it does hurt to try, it hurts a lot. Granted the seeds do come off quicker, but when you open the lid and all the oils and fumes and what ever other deviltry is in that confined space comes out, it is going to burn every exterior part of your face, and burn a path from your nostrils, down your throat and into your stomach. I think that must be what drinking battery acid would feel like.

Lesson four, if you suffer from frequent heart burn, or acid reflux, resist the temptation to do quality control on your products that you know darn good and well are going to be hot. It may look and smell wonderful but the internal scaring isn’t worth it. It’s hard to resist sampling the left over salsa, pepper butters, and chow chows that you work so hard to make, but resist you must.

Know also that all banana peppers are not sweet, you might think you have a bushel of sweet banana peppers, but more than likely half of those will be hot too.

We learned that when we are making these different recipes, to have a third person or maybe a fourth taste test it and label accordingly, especially if you have to swap pepper types because you don’t have the specific ones the recipe call for.

Some of you may know that peppers are rated on the Scoval scale which tells you the heat index of a pepper. I chose to go by the DJ scale. DJ is one of the guys we keep around to taste test this stuff. He loves hot and spicy food, and I learned after the first time that he said “oh that’s not spicy at all”, that one either he lies, or two I have a wimpy innards system.

Here’s how the DJ scale works:

“Oh, that’s not spicy at all” it means your tongue may sting for a few minutes.
“That’s a little spicy” means your lips and tongue will probably sting for a few hours
“That’s kinda hot” means your lips, tongue and throat could possibly become blistered or just fuse together
“Wow” followed by sweating or hiccups means the jars you put it in may melt
and lastly, If he can’t say anything and just shakes his head, that means you will probably need to buy a new pot to cook in, and probably a disclaimer on the jar.

Banana Peppers

We are still picking peppers daily, and will probably still be canning them in some form or other for the next month or so.

In other news, we just finished up the healthy cooking class, the participants had a good time with it, and are looking forward to next years should we still be in the program. They have also expressed interest in returning to the program and have friends and family members excited to participate as well.

Each participant still has things growing and are harvesting every couple days, the break in the weather has really been helpful, we’re just hoping the frost holds off a little while longer.

We did start our sauerkraut, it seems to be doing something, but it’s not stinking up the place so we’re wondering if it’s going to turn out or not. Since it was our first try at it, we just did one batch so we wouldn’t waste a lot of cabbage should it not turn out.

We tried watermelon jelly. That was a dismal failure. the taste was not good, and half the jars unsealed. No worries though, we only used one watermelon, the other ones we juiced and let the kids drink it. That’s not something we will do again.

We hope you enjoyed reading this lesson in peppers as much as we enjoyed experiencing it, it’s always fun when silly things happen round here.

Happy Fall Y’all!