"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Pepper Room


Adding a vivid montage of colors, the "pepper room" as we refer to it, helps to brighten up the normally drab root cellar. This is where we are able to keep the last of our fresh and soon to be dried peppers in good condition all the way into December...the smaller ones anyway. Larger bell and Italian pepper varieties will store fairly well down here for a good month and the smaller mini, pepperoncini, and banana will keep much longer than that. We simply make sure to pick the ones that have started to wrinkle a bit and use those first. Some of the peppers are left in their summer pots, their leaves will begin to shed in the dark but this will keep the peppers fresh longer than if they were removed from the plants.

These hanging peppers will be brought upstairs a few at a time to dry when we begin using our wood stove in November.

We string and dry some of our peppers in the greenhouse but never have enough warm dry weather to complete the task.


I try to maintain a cool temperature of around 40° with fairly high humidity as this seems to be about perfect for the peppers and apples stored in this room. This is also where we keep fresh tomatillos, cucumbers, and larger zucchini to use as needed for the next couple months. Most of our green tomatoes are ripening upstairs but a few, especially our Burpee Long Keepers, are kept in the root cellar to slow down that process. The Burpee tomatoes can be used well into February this way. The flavor dissipates with storage age but they are still a worthy rival for any store bought tomato. So as not to lead anyone astray, the Burpee tomatoes don't really taste all that great even in their prime and are grown solely for purposes of storage. Peppers on the other hand not only continue to ripen but also become somewhat sweeter with age.

We also froze a few gallons, and have made an incredible amount of zesty chipotle salsa since the ingredients include a large amount of peppers. One of my goals for next season is to grow jalepenos and make my own chipotles inspired by this great post on Smoking Chipotle Peppers. I absolutely love the smoky hot flavor but balk at the purchase price...it's past time we grew our own.

16 comments:

Vickie's Michigan Garden (my backyard) said...

Oh to have a root cellar! Those peppers look delicious.
vickie

Kim said...

Incredible! How big is your root cellar area?

Very beautiful harvest indeed!

Silke said...

Oh, wow Mike, those photos remind me of all the chile ristras that adorn every door and corner in New Mexico. It is something I miss here! I just harvested a big bowl full of poblanos this morning and roasted them for the freezer. Nothing compared with your harvest, though!! Beautiful! :) Silke

Mr. H. said...

Vickie,

They are, we actually had a lot ripen on the vine this year, that doesn't usually happen around here. Most of those ones have already been used in various canned salsa.

Mr. H. said...

Kim,

The root cellar is actually quite large as we are able to use some of the rooms in our unheated basement as a root cellar.

Our house is very old and the whole basement is made up of thick concrete, we even have an old well down there. This provides the perfect temperature and humidity for storage of many crops. As a matter of fact when the house was built in the early 1930's they put in an actual root cellar room.

Mr. H. said...

Silke,

Lucky you, we messed up on growing any hot peppers this year and have been regretting it ever since. Next year I hope to grow both jalepeno and poblano peppers.

Ruralrose said...

great post, you grow so much do you have a big family or do you have a market for your food? peace

granny said...

So much good food! I love the little red wagon ;0)

Mr. H. said...

Ruralrose,

There is just 2 1/2 of us living here. Being mostly vegetarian and growing all of our food means we need to have lots of food put away for the winter months.

It's quite a chore at times but worth every bite.:)

Mr. H. said...

Granny,

Yes, the grandson was kind enough to donate his wagon as a vehicle for tomato storage. Such a swell lad.

It looks like your grandsons are becoming quite proficient little gardeners as well.:)

Heiko said...

Silke just told me about your blog. I'm greatly enjoying it. We are trying to do something very similar in Italy. Our challenges are quite different of course. For a start we have no trouble ripening chillies fully.

However for logistical and budget reasons we have only quite a small bit of land, 7 miles away from our house (down one mountain and up another), which is steeply terraced. To save money and keep pollution down, we normally cycle across there, which you can imagine takes it out of you (especially coming back with several kilos of tomatoes!). On the plus side, we'll never have to worry about any weight problems!

Have a look at our side, which tells you a bit about us http://pathtoselfsufficiency.blogspot.com/

Mr. H. said...

Heiko,

I was just reading through your blog, your very first post certainly reflects the similarities between us. What a grand way to live ones life.

Perhaps you might be interested in clicking on the picture of a kohlrabi in my side bar. This will lead you to a site that a couple in Australia set up showcasing their terraced vegetable gardens.

http://www.growyourownfood.com.au/otherp
ages/kitchengarden.htm

I look forward to perusing through more of your blog posts.

Thanks so much for visiting all the way from Italy.

Mike

LynnS said...

What a grand amount you've got stored. And honestly, this is like Christmas in a root cellar. Who needs festive-lights when there are chilis strung from above!

inadvertent farmer said...

I have root cellar envy...not to mention all those peppers! Wow...great job! Kim

Mr. H. said...

Lynn,

It is about as festive as our basement ever gets. Dried peppers would make for great Christmas decor. What is that that they put on the trees, cranberries...popcorn! Popcorn and peppers would be a fine match.:)

Mr. H. said...

Kim,

Our root cellar does get quite full in the fall but believe me we do not normally have such good luck with peppers.

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