Friday, 31 August 2012

Hell's kitchen

With the wedding rapidly approaching I decided it was time to harvest the chillies and make some sauces and chutneys to give away.  Despite the meagre harvest from my own chilli collection, my culinary efforts were boosted by donations from our families' greenhouses to give me enough raw material for all the chilli goodies I had in mind

To start with, wash and top all the chillies you can get hold of...
Half a kilo of scorching Padrons went into the sauce. 
A quick blitz in the processor and then sweat down with onions and garlic 
And the finished product - a scalding, but fresh, chilli sauce named Quemalengua
Next up was the green chilli jam - 'Swamp Thing'
Oven roasted chillies for the chutney.
I named this concoction 'Forest Fire'
The results of a weekend in the kitchen.
And, of course, once the sauces were made I had to design some labels.  I've got some sticky-backed printer paper on order so once that arrives I can print out the labels and affix them to the jam jars and bottles.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

The chilli cam

So I decided to dust off the macro lens and take a few more photos of the developing chillies in the garden.  As convenient as the compact or camera phone are, they cannot reproduce the fantasticly shallow depth of field (or 'bokeh' for you purists) that a macro lens and larger sensor can produce.

So, enough of the technical stuff, here's some pics.
A new chilli for me, the Twilight has just started to bear fruit.
The familiar Yellow Scotch Bonnets - still not quite ripe
The consistent Loco, still going strong 
My first Black Naga. Ok, so it's not black but this rare superhot should ripen to that colour.
The colourful ornamental Prairie Fire
Ancho Poblano, a mild, smokey Mexican chilli.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Hoping for an Indian Summer

There's plenty of fruit beginning to set on the chillies but we still need sun to get it ripen. So, a little more sunshine would be greatly appreciated.
I manged to blow my head off with a plateful of Padrons the other day.  I endured a searing heat that had my eyes watering, nose running and about 20 minutes of stomach cramps.

Damn tasty though!

What is supposed to be a mild, sweet chilli with a 10% chance of being hot seems to consistently produce scorchingly hot fruit.  It's not just my plants either - the Padron plants that I gave to Claudio produce similarly hot fruit (although his chillies are significantly larger than mine).
Hungarian Hot Wax
Yellow Scotch Bonnet
The Red Scotch Bonnet plant is beginning to set fruit as well although it's about a month behind its yellow cousin. Moving the plants outside has certainly slowed them down but with the windowsills overloaded and the constant aphid attacks, it was the best solution.

Explosive Ember
Explosive ember is a very pretty ornamental chilli with deep purple leaves and fruit.  It's a much more compact bush than the similarly coloured Orozco and I suspect would be better suited to a windowsill rather than Orozco's spreading habit.

I'm gearing up to a chilli jam making session this weekend so I'm hoping for a few more fruit to ripen to add to the stockpile in the freezer. Hopefully I'll have enough to make a couple of batches of jam at different heats depending on people's bravery and spice tolerance.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Slow progress... really is! Slowly the chillies are growing, slowly they're ripening but it takes the patience of a saint waiting for a decent crop.

For the forthcoming nuptials (yes, I'm getting hitched in a scarily-close five-weeks time) I've purchased a box full of miniature jam-jars and bottles to fill with chilli-related goodness. However, with the rate at which chillies are ripening in the inconsistent sunshine, I may be struggling to fill them all.

Thankfully, Claudio (the father-in-law to-be) has a regular production line of scorchingly hot Padron chillies on the go so I may have to make a special Galiciaian ex-pat sauce in his honour.

Padrons are supposed to be small, green and mild.  Not the way Claudio grows them!
However, all is not lost yet. The yellow scotch bonnet plant is doing well with half a dozen large fruit beginning to ripen. I'm particularly proud of this one as I grew it from seed rescued from a chilli bought at Sainsbury's. How's that for value for money, I got a tasty Carribean meal and a chilli plant for less than the cost of a packet of seeds!

The distinctive ribbed shape of the  Scotch Bonnet
I've had some success with my own Padrons with a steady supply of fruit. However, the superhots are still to make much of a showing with only flowers on the Black Nagas and not even any open flowers on the Chocolate Habaneros.
A reasonable crop of (slightly smaller) Padrons
It would appear that the mystery chilli seeds given to me by a colleague (previously referred to as 'Gino Chillies') are in all likelihood either Ballon or Friar's Hat. Now the plant has fruited it displays a healthy crop of the distinctive tricorn fruits.
Gino's chillies
Friar's Hat
Many of the other plants, particularly the Hungarian Hot Wax and the Cayennes have a good stock of green fruit, we're just waiting for the sun to give them a but of a boost and ripen them up in time for some wedding-themed hot sauces and jams.
Hungarian Hot Wax
Hungarian Hot Wax
The Loco plants are still producing a steady crop of small fruit
The late TrinidadScorpion, De Arbol and Cappa Conic seedings are thriving on the windowsill.