Hot, hot, hot!

We planted a padron pepper plant this year and really enjoyed the small green peppers.  So tasty and with a nice little kick.

Then one day I made a risotto when a friend was visiting for the weekend and selected just one - bit larger than normal - padron pepper each which I blistered and served on top of the risotto to add a nice little crunch and kick.

Wow! We couldn't believe the difference in just the change of size compared to the heat of the pepper. Even the tiniest piece was incredibly hot!  None of us could eat it - so I was glad I only served the pepper whole and not cut up in anything!

Just another inch in length and they were so incredibly hot.

So we left the larger peppers on the plant and it now looks so pretty - with beautiful red peppers hanging on the all but dead plant.

I have decided to dry the red peppers and then grind them up to make them crushed red peppers, like you buy in the spice jars.  First taste of one I dried showed that it was, thankfully, milder than its green large form.

But in the meantime, I think they look so pretty  hanging on the plant.  I'm hoping they will sun dry but if there is a chance of rain, I'll bring them in and dehydrate them.

Have you ever tried padrons red? Should I be wary? Was the one I tried just an oddity?

Oh yes, and that is our wonderful arugula in the background of the photos.  Again that is super peppery - love it like that. Maybe that raised bed is destined to be hot stuff!

August harvest - green pears and apples

This week's harvest is the green pear tree and the first of the apple trees. We first finished off gathering the red pears as we'd left a few smaller ones a couple of weeks ago.  They were so large now -  some pears were over 1lb in weight EACH! Monsters.   One pear can feed a family of 4!

We were hoping the green pears would wait a little while, but no. They were ready so they are now stuffed in the fridge for their big chill, along with all the red ones! It's pretty crowded in our fridges right now!

And yet the apples are ready too, so we picked one tree only...but the others need doing probably this week as well.  Yummy green apples that I am eating every day - but also have got our my trusty dehydrator so that is busy at work with the apples, before the next tree delivers!

Nothing goes on the apples.  Just slice them with the mandolin and dehydrate for a few hours at 115 degrees F, to retain all the nutrients.  No need to core or peel - and that way you even get a little star in the middle where the pips were  *  Nice decorative touch, don't you think?

It's a busy time of year :-D

August's harvest: Pears

Today we harvested about 3/4 of our large red pears.  They each weigh about 300g (12 oz) and we picked loads.  Sadly, we don't know precisely what variety they are - but think they are a red comice sport. Red sports were first discovered in the 1900's in Oregon.  A "sport" is a naturally occurring transformation that develops occasionally on fruit trees.  It's shape really isn't very traditional pear shaped - more round with no real neck and it starts out as a dark, dark red. When the fruit is young, its nearly black in color, but it does go lighter as it grows and then ripens.

As with all pears, it is best not to let them ripen on the tree, as if left on the tree, they ripen from the inside out for the center is mushy by the time the outside flesh is ready.  So these pears have gone into our "fruit" fridge in the garage.

To tell if a pear is mature enough to pick, the rule of thumb is that, while still on the tree, if you lift the pear to a horizontal position from the usual vertical hanging position, the stem will detach if it is ready, but won't if it needs longer.  (This does not apply to Bosc pears however, which are difficult to detach from the tree, ripen or unripe).

Once picked, pears need to be cooled.  Some varieties need only a day or two in the fridge (Bartlett), but others (Anjou, Bosc, Comice) need 2 - 6 weeks for optimal ripening.  Without this chilling, picked pears will just sit and sit and eventually decompose without ripening.

What ever variety ours are, they need a few weeks to ripen.

After their chill, the pears need to be at room temperature for 4 - 7 days, depending on the variety to complete their ripening.  The longer they've spent chilled, the less time they need at room temperature.

By the time our family arrive in a month, these should all be perfect!  Let's hope they like pears :-D  These are the juiciest, tastiest pears!

We still have to pick our other pear tree...maybe we can wait a couple of days for that.  Pears anyone?