I Don’t Know Ale… Part 1

I Don’t Know Ale… Part 1

This post is for my cousin Nick, he asked me to blog about home brewing a while ago, so I am going to try over the next few weeks to show the different steps and progression of this ale.  This long post is of brew day, usually about a 6 hour process for us.  I think brewing can be as simple or as complex as you like and your resulting beer will reflect this.   There are also a lot of ways to achieve the same end product in home brewing, thus this post reflects our process based off our equipment, setup, and knowledge we have to date.  On this 40 acre farm there is usually a lot brewing, both literally and figuratively… Let’s get to it!

Here is the recipe we designed on BeerSmith, a program I would highly recommend if you are into designing your own beer, which we are.  This beer is based off English IPA style guidelines.  The name is a direct result of Huz not knowing what he was creating when first designed and it stuck.

I Don’t Know Ale Recipe

Type: All Grain
Batch Size: 8.00 gal
Boil Size: 10.49 gal
Boil Time: 60 min
End of Boil Vol: 9.36 gal
Final Bottling Vol: 7.25 gal
Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage
Date: 21 Nov 2013
Brewer: Huz & Wif
Equipment: 1 Huz & Wif All Grain Set-Up
Efficiency: 70.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 78.8 %
Taste Rating: 30.0
Ingredients:
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
12 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 1 75.0 %
1 lbs Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM) Grain 2 6.3 %
1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 3 6.3 %
1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM) Grain 4 6.3 %
1 lbs Melanoiden Malt (20.0 SRM) Grain 5 6.3 %
2.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 6 24.3 IBUs
2.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] – Boil 30.0 min Hop 7 18.7 IBUs
1.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 8 2.4 IBUs
1.00 oz Citra [12.00 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 9 5.3 IBUs
1.0 pkg Burton Ale (White Labs #WLP023) [35.49 ml] Yeast 10
1.00 oz Citra [12.00 %] – Dry Hop 7.0 Days Hop 11 0.0 IBUs

Gravity, Alcohol Content and Color

Est Original Gravity: 1.052 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.011 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.4 %
Bitterness: 50.6 IBUs
Est Color: 14.9 SRM
Measured Original Gravity: 1.051 SG
Measured Final Gravity: 1.010 SG
Actual Alcohol by Vol: 5.4 %
Calories: 168.6 kcal/12oz

Mash Profile

Mash Name: Single Infusion, Light Body
Sparge Water: 4.21 gal
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE
Total Grain Weight: 16 lbs
Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Tun Temperature: 72.0 F
Mash PH: 5.20
Mash Steps
Name Description Step Temperature Step Time
Mash In Add 20.00 qt of water at 162.0 F 148.0 F 75 min
Mash Out Add 12.80 qt of water at 205.6 F 168.0 F 10 min

Sparge: Fly sparge with 4.21 gal water at 168.0 F

Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).
Our Gravity Fed Brew Setup:
1) Brewing water is heated in Hot Liquor Tank (HLT)
2) Mashing happens in Mash Lauter Tun (MLT)
3) Wort is drained into Boil Kettle (BK)
(explanation taken from brewers friend)
brewing 1
Brew day steps/pictures: The below shows how we go from grains, water, & yeast to delicious brews. (**Disclaimer: this will be a basic overview, if would like more of a detailed overview please send us a comment)
Dump your 16 pounds of cracked grain into your mash tun (MLT).  The converted cooler helps to keep the water at a certain temperature, thus converting the starches in the crushed grains into sugars for fermentation.  Then per the recipe above heat the water in your HLT to 162 degrees and add 20 quarts, by the time all 20 quarts have been added your new grain temperature should read 148 degrees.  Stir the mash grain bed well and close lid.  Let sit for 75 minutes.  See this step below.
brewing 2
When the 75 minutes is up you have to add 12.8 more quarts of hot water at 205.6 degrees to bring the temperature of your mash up to 168 degrees.  Then let this sit for 10 minutes.  The idea here is you are extracting different starches.  Once the 10 minutes is up, you fly sparge as you drain into your boil kettle.  Meaning you will add 4.21 gallons of 168 degree water to the top of your mash as you mash out.  It is important to keep both of these at the same speed.  Fill your boil kettle up to 10.49 gallons. (10.5 is fine )
brewing 3
Then turn it on, once it comes to boil watch is very close as it will hot break.  Meaning depending on the beer it will foam like crazy or even boil over if you do not watch it.  Once all the proteins break down, the foaming will stop and you will have a rolling boil.  To help keep the hot break tame:  stir, spritz with a water bottle, or turn heat up and down.  Once it has past its hot break keep at a rolling boil for 60 minutes as you need to boil out enough moisture to bring your beer down to 8.5 gallons.
There are 3 hops additions with this recipe, so at the start of the boil you add the first, then again at 30, then again at 5.  Depending on the time you add the hops depends on the flavor bittering vs. aroma.  The hops added at 60 minutes add bittering.  The hops added at 30 add a bit of both, and the hops added the last 5 of boil add all aroma.  Those are the hops notes you taste when you drink your beer.  We put our hops in nylon paint bags to keep them contained.  Here are some pictures of the boil.
See the foam?  Hot break almost done.

See the foam? Hot break almost done.

Look closely and you can see the hop bag floating in the boil kettle with the wort.

Look closely and you can see the hop bag floating in the boil kettle with the wort.

Once this has boiled for 60 minutes, you need to cool it and cool it fast.  These is where keeping things clean and sanitized is important.  From now on clean is key to good beer.  You use a wort chiller to chill quickly to 67/68 degrees.  Chilling quickly helps prevent bacteria from growing.  Once cooled to 68 degrees we split our 8.5 gallons into two 6.5 gallon sanitized carboys.   Pictures below of chilling, what I forgot to take a picture of is the lid we put on top while chilling to keep away particles from air.  Remember clean clean clean from here on out!

brewing 6

Once you add your cooled wort to your sanitized carboys you shake and aerate the wort before adding yeast.  John Palmer explains the “why aerate” well here:  Aeration is Good, Oxidation is Bad.  Once a aerated, pitch yeast, and then airlock and do not shake again… we grow our yeast from one tube to save money but this is a whole different process.  Comment me if you want more details.  Below is aerating & pitching the yeast.

Shaking to aerate, remember to pop the top a time or two to let in air.

Shaking to aerate, remember to pop the top a time or two to let in air.

Splitting our yeast evenly into both carboys.

Splitting our yeast evenly into both carboys.

Finished Product:  I Don't Know Ale.

Finished Product: I Don’t Know Ale.

Last step to this post for now is just make sure over the next few days you watch this beer.  Try to keep it around 67/68 degrees.  When it ferments and the insides are going crazy that creates a heat, so to try to keep it in a cool room.  We keep it in our upstairs bedroom during the winter as we do not heat that room much.  So the cool room temp helps to keep the temperature more regulated.  Then once the fermenting has slowed you can move it to a bit warmer room just trying to keep it in that temp range.  Here is a picture of 1.5 days later, I say the yeast is working, isn’t it pretty?

brewing 10

Notes/Tips:

  • Will try to keep you posted as this beer progresses, currently it is still sitting in the primary fermentor, and we hope to rack it over to the secondary fermentor this week… Stay turned.
  • Also from here on out, remember clean clean clean, sanitize is key.  We use star-san as our cleaner of choice.
  • We treat the water when we brew all grain with some gypsum, calcium chloride, and lime.  What we have learned is water can really affect your efficiency and your flavor.  For more on this please comment and we can go into more detail.
  • Just to reiterate this post is a basic overview of our brew process, if would like more of a detailed overview please send us a comment

Again this was a basic overview, hope you enjoyed and please let me know if you have any comments or questions!  Enjoy ~ Megan

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Simple Granola Recipe (made with ingredients around the house)

Homemade yogurt is not complete without some crunchy granola.  Granola adds nice flavor, crunch, and extra protein for stay power to your yogurt.  The problem with homemade granola is it can get so darn complicated and expensive to make.  Thus, with the goal of making a quick & simple granola to add to my homemade yogurt I turned to the internet.  I found a simple recipe with ratios, this I could work & experiment with… On the first attempt I made a small batch and while it turned out flavor-wise  it was not very “granola-ie”.  I used the wrong oatmeal thinking quick oats would be just the same as whole old fashion – but they are not.  Also this first attempt was lacking the “clump factor” of granola.  For attempt two I got to thinking about clumping & the very complex granola recipe in my cookbook, which I have never made but seen made and it is indeed “clump-a-licious” granola.  So with that in mind I made it again, and added an egg.  The egg is the one item missing from the online recipe but found in my complicated cookbook recipe.  The egg, did the trick in helping the granola to hold together better.  My favorite part about this recipe is that it is ratio based and simple!  The recipe offers ratios and gives you the ability to twist, create, and design a healthy granola that fits into your unique food style.  Let’s get to it…

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups oats – the one picky ingredient in the whole recipe, use whole old fashioned oats if you can, also get gluten free oats, if you need it to be gluten free
  • 1 cup any mix of chopped nuts and/or seeds, whatever sounds delectable to you.  I use all almonds.
  • 1/2 cup mix of dried fruit (chopped roughly, if large) **Optional** I omit this because dried fruit in yogurt does not appeal to us.
  • 1/4 cup oil – I use extra virgin olive oil, but melted butter could work also
  • 1/4 cup syrupy sweetener or mix thereof (honey, maple syrup, etc.)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon – **optional** you can also add other spices which sound good to you.

Directions:

First we are going to slightly toast our oats and nuts.  Turn you oven on to 350.  Measure out your oats and nuts and dump into a 12×15 bar pan or 9×13 cake pan. Mix with your hand and spread out so the the bottom of the pan is covered.  Once oven is up to temperature, place pan in oven and bake for about 9 or 10 minutes.   Check every 3 minutes and give it a little stir, this ensures an even “roastyness” & “brownness”.  Check out pic’s of this below.

granola 1

Meanwhile, measure out a 1/4 cup of honey or whatever syrup sticky thing you want to use and 1/4 cup of oil into a small sauce pan.  Turn on a low heat stir occasionally and get it bubbling.  Then turn off and wait for your roasted oats and nuts to finish in the oven.

granola 2

Once your oats and nuts are done roasting in oven remove and dump into a metal bowl.  Be careful they will be hot and keep your oven on.  At this point add your cinnamon or other spices if you desire, mix.  Then add egg, and oil/honey mixture and stir.  Once incorporated, take a second to spray the pan you used for the roasting with a bit of non-stick stuff, then spread the mixture back out on to your greased pan and return to oven.

granola 3

Once in the oven for the second time, set timer for 10 minutes.  Once it rings open the oven check on progress, maybe give a quick stir so it cooks evenly and then cook it up to 5 more minutes.  I prefer mine a bit darker to bring out the “roastyness” and “goldenness” so I cook mine the full 15 minutes but you can pull it out at any time.  Really flexible…  Once out of oven remove from pan to wax paper or to a metal bowl if adding dried fruit.  This is the point you add your dried fruit if you want it, just stir it in.  I usually omit because we do not like it in our yogurt.   NOTE:  sometimes this is a bit soft while warm, but as it cools it does harden; and leave as intact as possible to help form those nice clumps.

granola 4

Once cool, store in an airtight container and enjoy plain as a quick snack on the go or coupled with some delish homemade yogurt and strawberry freezer jam – yum.

granola 5 granola 6

Notes/Tips:

My favorite part about the recipe… taste it once cool then make some tasting notes and adjust for next time until you have it just how you and/or your family like it:

  1. Too salty, not enough salt – maybe next time add some.
  2. Too sweet/not sweet enough?  Maybe next time go a bit higher on the honey or use a different sweeter.
  3. Is there an over powering flavor?  Maybe tone it down for next time.
  4. How was the cinnamon?  Too weak or too strong, adjust how you see fit.

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions!  Enjoy~ Megan

***PS:  Check out what we have been up to in our new addition canning kitchen.  Walls are up,  stove cabinet built, and stove is installed.  Next step is to get the hood vent installed.  We are so excited to use this range this summer…. Enjoy!

stove 1 stove 2

Easy Homemade Yogurt

I love making yogurt in my dehydrator… it is so easy, so fresh, and those live and active cultures are oh so good for your gut – seriously people!  I get excited just thinking about those healthy cultures chillin in my gut!!!  This fall after going through quite a bit of store-bought plain yogurt  for breakfast I decided it’s time to create, and eliminate another processed food from Huz’s and my diet.  So a quick call to Mom (who makes it occasionally) coupled with a quick “how to” Google search got me started.  Now Huz and I are hooked on the good stuff!  Again I cannot stress how much better this stuff is for you over the commercial brands.  It has so much more flavor, so much less packaging waste, it is gluten free, and the best part of all… (seriously)…(wait for it)… it has TRUE probiotics – 100% gut approved!  Let’s get to it…

Ingredients:

  • 1 or 2 or 3 quarts of Whole Milk – whole is best, the thinner the milk the runnier the yogurt, so don’t go below 2% but really whole is the best.
  • 1/4 or  1/2  cup plain yogurt – either from a plain yogurt you buy at the store or reusing from the last batch. (See tips below for using a culture starter pack)
  • A dehydrator, yogurt maker, or some way to keep your yogurt at a constant temp of about 110-115 degrees for 6-12 hours.  For this blog I will be using my dehydrator.
  • A thermometer, I just use my candy thermometer, but any quick read one should do the trick.

Directions:

Measure out the amount of milk you want to make into yogurt dump into a large sauce pan and turn on the heat to low/medium-low, I usually make 2 or 3 quarts worth.  The time I made this batch Huz was home for Thanksgiving break so I made a 3 quart batch.  Picture below.

Yogurt 1

While this is slowly coming up to 185 degrees and you are stirring occasionally, I wash and sanitize my jars.  Due to our love of beer brewing we have Star-San in the house, an acid based sanitizer that I spray my jars with.  If you do not have this, just make sure you give your jars a good wash and rinse well in hot water (that is all my Mom ever did).  Then turn them over to dry until ready to use.  Here is a picture of my station all set up.

Yogurt 4

Over the low heat, bring the temperature of the milk up to 185 degrees.  You will start to see the milk get a bit foamy as it reaches this point.  Once it reaches 185 (or right around there) remove from heat and cool back down to 115 degrees.   If you want to move the process along an ice bath works nicely.  See my ice bath below, just be-careful not to get any water in there.  You are working with bacteria and you do not want to introduce other bacteria friends to your yogurt makin’ party.

Yogurt 2

Once the temperature is down to 115, remove from ice bath.  Add your starter, the plain yogurt you saved from your last batch or you got from the store.  See below a picture of my starter about to go in, then I gently whisk it around.  No need to beat it to death, just introduce those yummy live cultures and they will do the rest while cooking.

Yogurt 3

Once the starter is gently mixed into your milk, pour into jars.

Yogurt 5

Once you have filled your jars, place them in your dehydrator,  yogurt maker,  cooler, or however you intent to keep them warm.  Keep them at about 115 degrees for 6-12 hours.  I usually cook them about 10 hours.  The longer they cook, the tangier the yogurt, this also depends on the strain of bacteria you use and how many times you have used it.   See below for a few shots of  the dehydrator cooking away.  Side note:  I keep a thermometer in mine as my dehydrator tends to run a bit hot.

Yogurt 6

10 hours later – DONE!  You can do this over night, or start it in the morning and cook all day.  It is easy, and oh so good for you!

Yogurt 7

Yogurt 9

Eating Tips:

  • This will keep an easy 2 or 3 weeks in your fridge, maybe even longer, it usually does not last that long here.
  • Delicious mixed honey, or homemade jam ( strawberry, peach, cherry, elderberry, peach/raspberry or any other kind you have in your freezer we have tried them all).
  • Even goes great with cranberry sauce.
  • Remember those frozen blueberries we froze earlier this year, toss those in with a bowl.  It is delicious, or use canned peaches, or fresh fruit.  YUM
  • For the extra crunch add some homemade granola (my next post)!

Other Tips/Notes/Nutritional Facts:

  • Only reuse a batch about 3 or 4 times, then refresh with a fresh strand of starter either from a plain yogurt from the store or from a culture packet from a home-brew supply store…
  • Below is one culture we have been using from Siciliano’s, it has more bacteria cultures in it than the commercial brands, thus better for your gut!
  1. SWEET CULTURE INCLUDES: Lactose, Dry milk powder, (ST) Streptococcus thermophilus, (LB) Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, (LA) Lactobacillus acidophilus, (LBL) Lactobacillus lactis, Bifidobacterium lactis, autolyzed yeast
  • Lastly here are the nutritional facts using whole milk  (thanks to my sister in law for this ability now on my blog)!  This is estimated off of 1 cup of yogurt – thus 1 quart would serve 4 people.  I just wish this would show all those live active cultures, they are so good for you!

Yogurt 8

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions!  Enjoy ~ Megan

Canning Tomato Sauce

Canning Tomato Sauce

tomato sauce 1This post was supposed to be done a couple of weeks ago but life happened, so for those of you who are still canning tomatoes this is a great way to put them up.  It is time-consuming but very worth the effort, the result is a sweet sauce that is a great base for chili’s, italian dishes, pizza sauce, salsa, veggie dishes, etc!  Lets get to it…

Ingredients/Items Needed:

  • Tomatoes – we use a lot of varieties to incorporate good flavor.  Our favorites are romas, amish paste, hungarian hearts (these three make up the bulk of the sauce), along with some giant belgium, lemon boys, and goliath.
  • Canning salt
  • Canning Jars, rings, and lids
  • Pressure canner – would high recommend an all-American canner if you do not have one, they are awesome and not scary like the old ones are!
  • A large stock pot to cook your tomatoes down in with a heavy bottom to avoid scorching (stainless steel is ideal)
  • A juice/food mill – Would also highly recommend: “The Original All Metal Squeezo Manual Tomato Strainer” – it is the best!  We use for apple sauce too…

***See set-up picture below!

tomato sauce 2

Directions:

Cut your tomatoes into chunks to and run them through your food mill, filling your large stock pot as you juice them.  The mill is nice because it removes the skins and seeds, thus pressing a nice thick pulp into your pot.  See pictures below.

tomato sauce 3

Juice the tomatoes until your pile of tomatoes is gone or your pot is full.  Also while juicing the food mill kicks out the seeds and skins, we call this the tailings.  When the tailings pile up take a moment to run them though the juicer again to get every last bit of juice out.  Below is a picture of running the tailing as well as our full pot ready to cook down.

tomato sauce 4

Next it is time to add canning salt, the ratio you add is between 1/2 – 1 teaspoon per quart.  This pot holds 32 quarts if full, so we figured we had about 7 gallons or 28 quarts so we added just over a 1/2 cup, which was just shy of 28 teaspoons.

tomato sauce 5

Once the salt is added turn it on high.  From there you bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally, once boiling watch out for the hot break.  The tomatoes will initially foam and rise, once the protein structures break down in the sauce the foam will break and you will see a rolling boil.  It is very important to watch for the hot break and stir constantly during or it can boil over and make a huge mess.  Some times we even spritz a bit of water on it, or turn the heat down to help keep the hot break foam at bay.  Once you have it passed the hot break and it is at a rolling boil let it cook.  See hot break photos below.

tomato sauce 6

Once it has hot broke and it is at a rolling boil, just let it cook and cook and cook down stirring occasionally.  This giant pot took about 7-8 hours to get to a nice thickness, the goal is to reduce to at least half its original volume, this will take longer or shorter depending on the quantity juiced.  What is happening here is as it cooks the water is evaporating out leaving tomato goodness behind, thus creating a nice thick sauce.  As it gets thicker you will need to stir a bit more often so it does not burn.  Below is a picture of our pot ready to jar.

tomato sauce 7

Now scoop into jars, seal with lid and ring then process in a canner.  We pressure cook rather than hot pack because it ensures a good seal, after all this effort you do not want to lose your tomatoes to a bad seal.  To process in the canner bring up to 5 pounds of pressure, cook for 5 minutes, then turn off heat.  Remember to leave weight on canner until your pressure is back to 0.

tomato sauce 8

Finished product below – enjoy the fruits of your labor, this one is totally worth it!  Don’t forget to date the lid for proper yearly rotation.

tomato sauce 10

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions!  Enjoy ~ Megan

Blueberries and Peaches!

This time of year is so fresh, and my favorite time to eat.  Apples are starting to ripen, peaches are in full swing, blueberries are winding down but still around and fresh veggies are coming out of the garden left and right.  Wanted to share with you a way to preserve some of those blueberries and peaches.  Lets get to it!

How to Dehydrate Blueberries (super easy and excellent in mega-bars)

Ingredients:

  • Blueberries

Directions:

Last year I did this and is was a royal mess because the recipe called for blanching the blueberries for 30 seconds to puncture the skins.  I had blue juice everywhere it leaked all over every crevasse in my dehydrator and after cleaning up that mess I swore I would find a better way if they turned out good.  Well as it happens they were excellent, especially in the mega-bars They added really great flavor, texture, and as Huz’s says “a nice chew”.  So this year I decided to experiment and I must say was pretty excited when it worked…

  • I pulled a 1 gallon bag of blueberries we had picked and then froze a week earlier.
  • I spread out the frozen blueberries all over my trays, since they were frozen they did not stick together.
  • I turned the dehydrator on to my fruit setting, for ours it is 135-145.  Then left it alone… about 30-ish hours later we had perfect little blueberries all dehydrated, with no mess (alleluia).
  • Depending on the size of your blueberries it might take longer or shorter, I started to check mine after 24 hours.  To test if they were done I ate a few.
  • Once done I stored them all in a ziplock bag with a good seal after they were done.  See picture steps below.  It was so easy and it is awesome to add the variety to our diet.

  blueberry 1

blueberry 2

blueberry 3

blueberry 4

30 Hours later - Finished!

30 Hours later – Finished!

  

How to Make Peach Freezer Jam

Next strawberry this is my favorite.  I love mixing strawberry and peach in my plain yogurt for a bit of fresh flavor, sometimes I throw in a few frozen blueberry’s too.

Peach Jam is just like making strawberry but with a different fruit.  Thus if you need the step by step with all the tips please see the strawberry post but follow the “peach freezer jam” recipe in the Sure-Jell box for proper fruit and sugar proportions.  Few tips on the peach freezer jam:

  • To make peach jam follow all the tips you did for strawberry but follow the “peach freezer jam” recipe in the Sure-Jell box.
  • The one major difference is lemon juice.  You need to add fresh lemon juice, the juice helps to slow peach browning.  Make sure you use the fresh stuff here that reconstituted stuff you get at the store is lacking in favor and if you use it your peach jam will be lacking in favor also.  I know from experience…  I did it once a few years ago as I did not have lemons in the house and figured it was the same.  I was so disappointed in the flavor of my jam that year.
  • Remember to year date your lids to ensure proper rotation in the freezer.
  • Below is a picture of my finished product.

peaches 1

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions!  Enjoy ~ Megan

Canning Hot Peppers… Jalapeno!

hot pepper 2A brine hot pack canning method for hot peppers.  For this post I picked jalapenos, as I needed 10 jars for my pantry this year.  We average about 1 jar a month plus I have 4 jars left over from last year.  We also use this canning method for hungarian wax peppers and cherry bombs.  All 3 peppers are excellent canned in this style and they are great on/in sandwiches, pizza, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, etc.  It is a very healthy way to add a bit of spice to your life.  Lets get to it!

Ingredients:

  • Jalapenos – fresh picked from garden or local from farmers market
  • Brine – see this post on how to make brine…
  • Wide Mouth Canning jars, (wide mouth makes it easier to fill the jars and remove later to eat, also we like the pint size since you won’t go through them as fast)
  • Wide Mouth Canning lids
  • Wide Mouth Canning rings
  • Disposable plastic gloves

Directions:

Rinse jalapenos, then wearing gloves (IMPORTANT you will get pepper juice on your hand so wear gloves and do not put by your eye or face) slice the peppers into rings up to stems.  Fill the jars as you go.  Once done slicing and jars are full it is ok to remove the gloves.  See picture below.

hot pepper 1

Now are going to “hot pack” can our peppers, because if you put them in a pressure cooker you would cook them to death.  Heat up your brine until it is boiling.  (To see how to make brine click HERE) For this batch of 10 pint jars heat up about a gallon of brine.  Once the brine is boiling fill each jar with the boiling brine solution and let them sit for 10 minutes.  This heats up the peppers.  See pictures below.

hot pepper 3

While waiting the 10 minutes, fill a small sauce pan with an inch or 2 of water, put the number of canning lids you will use in the pan, and turn on to a medium-high heat.  This will heat up your lids, and help in the sealing process.  Set on a low heat once boiling until ready for use.

pickles 4

Once the 10 minutes is up drain the brine, which is now spicy into a different pot.  NOTE VERY IMPORTANT:  This brine in the different pot is now “hot or spicy” brine since it has hot pepper oils in it.  Brines you can re-use, but if you re-use this brine say for example canning pickles they will be spicy/hot from the pepper oil.  We save this brine label it as HOT BRINE so we know not to use it canning pickles but we re-use it when we can our cherry bombs,  hungarian wax, tabasco peppers or anything else pepper related.

Once the hot/spicy brine is drained into a different pot refill the jars again with boiling brine, or you can quickly bring the orignal brine you just removed back up to boiling and use that brine again.  This way you do not have a bunch of hot brine on your hands.  Once the jars are full with boiling brine for a second time, top with canning lid, and screw on a ring, hand tight to ensure a good seal.  We have a handy magnetic lid grabber I would recommend having on hand, you can usually find them in the canning section at your local grocery store.  It makes taking the rings out of the water so much easier. See pictures below.

hot pepper 4

Done, they will seal as they cool.  This year we had 1 that did not seal, so it is in the fridge waiting to be used up.  Date the lids once cool, remove the rings, gently wipe the sides of the jar and store until ready for use.  So versatile… great to bring places or spice up your own dishes.

hot pepper 5

Tips: 

  • Don’t forget to wear gloves throughout the cutting process. Huz wore them through the whole process but that is not necessary, he is just super careful because spicy contacts are no fun.
  • Also remember your brine becomes hot/spicy brine after the initial 10 minutes while it is infused with the hot peppers.  You can re-use this brine (brine keeps a really long time) but label it as HOT BRINE..
  • Some peppers we have found to be excellent canned are:  Jalapeno, Hungarian Wax, Cherry Bomb, and Tabasco
  • These will keep for 2 or 3 years if sealed, both hot peppers and vinegar have high acidic levels making them great for preserving.

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions and remember it is good to spice things up in your life every now and then!  Enjoy ~ Megan

Kale: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Kale: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Kale … it is a super food!  The nutritional value of this stuff is off the charts awesome, here is a quote regarding that value from WebMD:

“One cup of chopped kale contains 33 calories and 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.

Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.

Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.”

Kale 1As seen here growing in our garden, kale is a green leafy looking thing…So the question is how do we cook with it?  Well here are a few breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas from us, hopefully you will find them delicious also!  Anyway to sneak this food in you should!

Kale for Breakfast:  We love it in scrambled eggs, here is how.  (Serving Size 2-3 people)

  • Cut, rip, or chop about 1.5 cups of raw kale leaves add them to a pan with about a tablespoon of butter.  Add the lid for a steam effect, and cook on a medium heat for about 3 – 5 minutes stirring occasionally as so ensure the butter coats evenly and the kale does not burn.  The kale will wilt down and have almost a steamed spinach look.  Once they have wilted down, add your scrambled eggs (I used 4 eggs for this size batch), salt and pepper if desired and cook until your eggs are done.  Sometimes we throw some canned cherry bombs or hungarian wax peppers in if we are feeling spicy.  In the picture below, I was feeling spicy and added hungarian wax peppers.  This pairs wonderfully with Potato Bread as toast and Juice or Coffee.

Kale 2

Kale For Lunch:

  • Idea 1 – Rip, cut, or chop a cup and toss in with your lettuce salad.  Acts as another leafy green, enhances the flavor of your salad.
  • Idea 2 – Kale Chips.  A lot of people make these, we tried them last year and were not huge fans, BUT taste buds are different so this might be fun to try, plus it is super easy… here is the recipe we used last year, feel free to search for others.  KALE CHIPS LINK
  • Idea 3 – Green smoothies.  A lot of people add kale too smoothies, again we are not a fan of any green smoothie period, we like fruit in ours, but again if this sounds appealing to you give it a try!!!  This is an excellent food to experiment with!!!

Kale For Dinner:  We love to add it in with our rice, for you quinoa fans out there, you could probably sub the rice with quinoa.  Here is our recipe.

  1. In a large skillet  over a medium high heat add 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, about 2 – 3 cups of cut/torn kale, 1 medium diced onion, 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  2. Saute this mixture for about 4 or 5 minutes.
  3. Add 3/4 cup of rice
  4. Saute for another 2 or 3 minutes to really mix and coat the rice.
  5. Add 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock, can sub with water if you do not have the stock.
  6. Cover, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 20 minutes.  Usually once or twice during the 20 minute time I fast lift the lid and give it a quick stir to ensure the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.  This pairs great with chicken on the grill or stir fry.  See steps below.

kale 3

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions or any delicious kale ideas to try!  Enjoy ~ Megan