"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Piquanté Pepper harvest and giveaway

It's been a hectic couple of weeks here.  Firstly, last week / weekend was the end of our company's financial year.  That, for me as "the one who does the (basic) books", is pressure in itself.  All info the be captured, all the figures I need to prepare for the accountant, reconciling bank accounts, etc...

Secondly, I decided to upgrade our 6 - 8 year old laptop and PC into a single new laptop - and one that only uses 35 watts / hour :)  Compared to 65 watts on the old laptop and 90 watts on the PC - that's a lot of power available to use for other appliances.  And, will save a whole whack of time - as the laptop used less power I was using it downstairs for day to day dealings, and then having to re-capture everything I had done on the PC programme upstairs.  RSon was a great help with that - he patiently advised me on various models (I am very fussy - especially when it comes to a large purchase - I need to know I am getting what I pay for and that it will suit it's purpose for years to come), brought the new laptop here, and sorted out all the software installations it required (anti-virus, picture viewing / editing, etc...)  The PC will be kept in case the new laptop ever goes down, and the old laptop - well it has a new owner :)

Thirdly, I decided to upgrade the accounting software we use from a 2006 version to a 2015 version.  THAT has taken me more than a week to sort out as templates, legislative changes, etc are tedious, one-at-a-time adjustments.  New software looks different / handles different aspects, and, like walking into an unknown shop, takes time to familiarise oneself with.  But, I made it and all seems to be running smoothly :D

Whilst RSon was busy tweaking the new machine to my requirements and downloading the relevant software that was required, last weekend I harvested the first batch of piquanté peppers for this season. Bearing in mind that this is approximately 1/3 of the fruit on the bushes, I garnered a whopping 2.075kgs!!
The piquanté pepper bushes are bending over 
they are so laden with peppers
The bushes in the pic above are from last year - they survived the winter and produced plenty of fruit this year - so much so that the poor stems were bending over, and, in some instances, touching the ground.

On harvesting the fruit I noticed something strange.  Last year one of my piquanté pepper bushes produced no fruit whatsoever.  It was on it's own on the side of the shadecloth veggie patch.  I had planted two of them there, but one plant died.
Large pendulous fruit hanging from the
single bush
Thinking that it needed like species company, at the beginning of last summer I almost transplanted it next to the others.
Single bush fruit on the left,
fruit from the row of bushes on the right.
Notice the difference in size?
But, I'm grateful I didn't.

This year it has produced fruit, and that fruit is over triple the size of the fruit from the other bushes.
From the smallest to the largest fruit I harvested.
The middle one is the average size on all the
Both area's got the same dose of alpaca poo, water,etc.  Perhaps it benefited from the no fruit last year by allowing the roots to get a better spread / grip?  Maybe it like being placed next to my rosemary bush?
 I take this black stripe on the stem as an 
indication that the pepper is ready to harvest
Who knows.

Now - onto the preparation of the piquanté peppers and a word of warning.  The recipe I googled warned that gloves should be worn whilst processing the peppers.  I knew better, and didn't bother.
I used my nails to remove the remainder of
the stem
I used my nails to remove the remains of the stalk...

... and the handle end of a teaspoon to remove the seeds from inside the fruit.

After cleaning them out and putting the peppers into salt water for their overnight soak, I noticed that my fingers were tingling.  Slightly.  That tingle got progressively worse, especially under my rings.  Washing up the dinner dishes didn't help.  Neither did applying hand cream.  The only remedy I found that worked was shoving my hands into milk.

By the way - if ever anyone gets a "closed" burn (the skin isn't broken) the best home remedy I have found is to put the injured part into a suitable sized container full of cold milk straight out of the fridge.  This not only relieves the pain, but ensures that there will not be a blister.
Thankfully, I used the handle end of a teaspoon
to remove the seeds
The next morning there was still hot capsicum baccatum residue on my fingers - ask my eyes, they were the ones that discovered it...lol

But, after processing, four jars of piquanté peppers were filled to the brim - even squashed in.  I had to squash them in because I had no more clean, vacuum sealable jars.

One jar was given to RSon, and the other three are in the pantry.

Piquanté Pepper recipe:

The recipe I tweaked to preserve my piquanté peppers is as follows: (adjust as necessary according to how many peppers you harvest)
500 - 750gms piquanté peppers
60 gms coarse salt
600ml water

Rinse the newly harvested peppers.  Remove the stalk and the inner seeds.

Fill a stainless steel container with the 60 gms of coarse salt which has been dissolved int the 600gms of cold water.  Add the prepared peppers - submerging them beneath the water and keep them submerge with the aid of a lid / plate / plastic bag filled with water.  Leave them submerged overnight.

The next morning, rinse the peppers well, and leave to drain in a colander (shake the colander to remove as much water as possible from inside the peppers).

Then, firstly, I placed the glass jars and their lids into a pot of water and brought them to the boil - and allowed them to boil for 15 minutes.  Leaving them in the boiling water, and whilst the peppers were draining in the colander :

To a stainless steel pot I added :

375ml white grape vinegar (I used 1.25 ltrs for 2 075 kgs of 
piquanté peppers)
Add a hefty chunk of freshly peeled ginger which has been cut into thin-ish slices (round or matchstick shapes - your choice)
Pickling spice to your requirements (I used 5 tablespoons to 2.075 kgs of piquanté peppers)
Dried or fresh garlic as required (I used 2 tablespoons of dried garlic flakes to 2.075 kgs of piquanté peppers)

Allow the vinegar and spices to come to a rolling boil.  Add the peppers and bring back to the boil for 1 minute.

Then place the peppers into your prepared warm jars, add as much liquid as necessary to cover the peppers, clear the rim of the jar and tighten the lid.

As an extra precaution, I then placed the sealed jars in a pot of boiling water and allowed them to "cook" for 30 minutes.  On removing them from the water, I made sure the lids were good and tight, and left them to cool on the kitchen counter.

RSon has already opened his jar.  He says they are brilliant, and go wonderfully on a toasted chicken and onion sandwich.  I reckon I'm going to try :

  putting them under the (breast) skin of a chicken before roasting;
  slicing them, and adding some feta, stuff a chicken breast with them
  before frying / baking;
  adding them to chicken gravy;
  stuffing with cottage / cream cheese, etc

And, what happened to the seeds that were harvested during the processing of the piquanté peppers?

They are going to be given away :)

So - this is not only a piquanté pepper posting but it is also a giveaway.  And it's open world-wide.


But, it's going to be a fun giveaway - a pay it forward giveaway.  A 1-in-8 opportunity of getting some piquanté pepper seeds. 

The way it will (hopefully) work is this:
Piquanté pepper seeds harvested last weekend
I am offering 200 piquanté pepper seeds to anyone who follows this blog and who leaves a comment.  (New followers entries will be allowed :) )

All the comments will be numbered as they occur and written on a piece of paper.  One of those pieces of paper will be randomly chosen by RMan  and that person will be sent all 200 seeds.  They should hold 25 seeds for themselves, and then providing a link back to this blog posting, offer the balance of the seeds on their blog.  The person who wins their giveaway may also withhold 25 seeds before offering the balance on their blog - again linking back to this posting - and so on until the last 25 seeds arrive at their destination.

To all the winner(s) wherever you are - please - make this giveaway open to worldwide readers of your blog.  The cost of postage on one envelope won't break the bank...

To anyone who scores from this giveaway all I ask is that you please leave a comment on this post - it will be fascinating to see where these seeds travel to around the world.

All followers comments posted before midnight on Saturday, 21st March 2015 will be entered into the draw.

Please note: I take no responsibility for the seeds, and whoever scores is responsible in ensuring that they are allowed to import the 100% organic seeds I am offering.


  1. Your update sounds like a good idea. I never realized that different models of laptop might have varying power consumption.

    I like to eat picante burritos, but I never prepare them. I don't mind cutting up bell peppers but those hotter peppers can mess you up, as you have discovered.

    1. Harry - Oh, yes, indeed - some of the newer models use far less electricity than older models :)

      Hotter peppers - I wasn't aware that piquante peppers were classified as hot...

  2. It's no fun being 'pepper burned' and I hope you didn't rub your eyes! It's fascinating how some plants grow better than others but you had a great harvest there.

    1. Mum - Clever me - I did rub my eyes :)

  3. What a brilliant idea, please put my name in the hat :)

  4. Congratulations on your laptop upgrade. Seems like it's been very hectic for you. Please put my name in the hat too.

    1. Damaria - Welcome - and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Can't see you as a Google follower on this page nor on Bloglovin? Would hate to have to exclude you from the draw...

  5. I was very interested by your remarks about the rosemary. I have two piquante pepper bushes in my small suburban garden and neither have produced very well. This past year i planted a rosemary bush nearby and i have had a bumper crop of peppers. Maybe there is something to the companion planting theory.

    1. Simone - Welcome - and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Can't see you as a Google follower on this page nor on Bloglovin? Would hate to have to exclude you from the draw...

      Yeah - it certainly looks like planting the bushes be next to a rosemary bush has done the trick - both in your garden and mine... :)

  6. Very interesting about the pepper size. Ditto about the milk. Not sure about importing seeds though. When I used to send back and forth to GB, we would mark it 'craft item'. Had no problems.

  7. Power consumption isn't something we concern ourselves with when we purchase electronics in the states - but it should be. I cringe when I see all the unnecessary lighting and electronic signs associated with the retail market; such a waste. Hope you're doing well on your new laptop. Mine has a touch screen and it can be maddening. I tend to have a lot of electrical static in my body and I make things happen that are not at all intentional. :)

    1. Cherie - I almost went for a touchscreen, but, after what you have written I'm glad I didn't :) All seems to be going well...

    2. Glad it's going well for you! I got the touch screen because my son said that's where all the PCs are going, just like the laptops are also doing away with DVD/CD drives (I had to get an external one).At this point, I would prefer a regular screen but maybe I'll get accustomed to it. Also, everything seems to be going to "the cloud" which I don't like or trust, especially if you live in an area with unreliable internet.

    3. Cherie - I also had to purchase an external CD / DVD?!

      I considered updating out accounting software to the cloud option, but then figured that in order to access it I would need an internet connection - which, with the load shedding that is taking place in this country, is not always guaranteed and that would therefore limit my access to the programme. Plus, cloud based applications have fallen prey to hackers. So, I decided against it.

      Also, with touch screens, I have heard that the screen is always "murky" due to fingerprints... ;)

  8. Dani - glad to hear that you are up and running AND using less power - lead the way Gurl! i think i already told you that jam is looking into doing a wind turbine set-up for us. for some odd reason, the person who built this place and lived here before us left us a 20ft tower thingy that can easily be set up with a wind turbine and a bank of batteries. jam has been wanting to try that kind of set-up for years but - it will cost a few dollars and we just have had other things to spend our measly few dollars on for the past 4 years! anyway...

    i'll take some of those piquante pepper seeds off of your hands - bahahahah! and yes - whenever i am making hot sauce or pickled peppers (for jam, not me) i always wear my gloves. the first time i made pickled peppers for him, i did not wear gloves and i was crying for days! not just because i rubbed my eyes and nose while doing it - that was pretty bad! - but because i had tiny cuts all over my hands from garden work. it took about an hour for the pain to start and absolutely nothing helped to make the burning in my hands, eyes and nose stop! i never thought about milk so thanks for that! much love hon!

    your friend,

    1. kymber - Oh, a wind turbine!!! My dream, but RMan isn't keen on a normal turbine because of the hazard to birds. He'd like a VAWT - but they aren't available here...

      Glad to meet a fellow chilli victim. We've both learned our lessons, I hope?! (I purchased gloves today when we went to town lol)

  9. Put me down please! I'd like to see how they compare to my cherry bombs!

  10. Those beautiful peppers make me so anxious for summer! We had an abundance of peppers last year and I've been enjoying them all winter in lots of ways. I'm hoping nature gives us another great season.

    I love your idea for sharing seeds, but in the interest of the seeds, don't send them to me. We have to start peppers inside in the winter and I've been a failure at that a few years in a row. I didn't even bother trying this year. We only plant a few hot pepper plants so, being incompetent, I just buy them locally from someone who isn't. :)

    1. Bill - Not too much longer before your seeds will start growing :)

      Oh, that's a pity about the giveaway? Does that apply to Cherie as well?

    2. She starts seeds too, so maybe she'd have better luck. I love what you're doing and would enjoy being a part of it, but I hate to see the seeds wasted on a seed-starting incompetent. :)
      But actually our starts have done well this year, so I'd say go ahead and leave her name in the hat. If we win that will be motivation to try harder. :)

    3. Ah, Bill - with your entry she now has two lol

  11. I hope I'm not too late. Would love to win and try some of these. I love the idea of a seed giveaway like that...and I'm hoping out climate might be not unlike yours at times. Enter my name please! Thank you for being so awesome!! ;-)

  12. Would love to 'win' those pepper seeds. I really like the idea of sharing them forward.

  13. Seeds arrived in S.Wales Uk, :-)

  14. I was lucky enough to win the peppers so they made their way over to Cornwall in the U.K. Thank you Dani

  15. Hey Dani,
    I won some seeds to so they are in Herefordshire in the UK. I'll be offering them up this week on http://ruralretreatrestoration.blogspot.co.uk so who knows where they'll go next!? Thanks Kirsty

  16. Your seeds have arrived in Hampshire along the south coast of England, we are very close to Isle of Wight. I am now offering the rest of the seeds forward. Thank you, can't wait to see the fruit.

  17. It look like you were growing "Bishop's Hat" not "Piquante", also a tasty Capsicum Baccatum var Pendulum. Still a great pepper, my wife adores it.


Thank you for taking the time to comment - it makes my day and removes the "loneliness' of sitting at my screen blogging supposedly to myself ;) I try and reply as quickly as possible so please forgive me if sometimes my response is delayed.