Unplanned moments typically turn into the best adventures.
We carved out a long weekend away to visit Prince Edward County, catch a little sun and fresh air, drink a little wine, sleep in and slow down. Perfect weekend and we did just that, everything to plane except for Terry. That’s not his real name, but it will do for today.
Terry is my father in law’s friend, a local farmer who lives up the road and ambled over to say hello one evening when he saw our campfire. He lives in the house he grew up in and still farms it more as a hobby and labor of love than a living as he’s already retired. There’s no Mrs. Terry at the moment so I suspect that a warm campfire, a bit of company, and a few laughs were an evening well spent. In conversation, I asked him what he was growing this summer and he said peppers, all kinds of peppers, particularly hot ones. He listed off a half dozen easily and then mentioned that he had ghost peppers as well and proceeded to tell us just how much hotter a ghost pepper was from the rest.
Well, challenge accepted and I asked Larry if I could buy some, he eyed me suspiciously, not certain that I understood the gravity of ghost pepper with a rating of over a million scoville heat units vs jalapeños in the 3500 to 10000 range. He explained it all again, before agreeing to sell me a mixed bag of peppers if I dropped by his farm before going home.
On our last morning, I left my husband home and my friend and I make the trek, $5 in hand to buy a bag of Terry’s peppers. What a fascinating experience, his garden was out back and filled with lots of different things, but the pepper patch was like nothing I had ever seen. Every colour, every size, all spicy and many I’d never seen before.
To test my pepper worthiness he gave us a tepin to try first. Tiny little North American pepper that packs some heat that crescendos gradually. I must have passed because I didn’t go screaming down the driveway and he helped up fill our bag leaving the dangerous ghost peppers for last.
I went home with Jalapeños, Tepin, Thai, Cherry, Hungarian wax, Chipotle and a few others I forget the name of now. I brought them back and put them up away from dog reach as well as unsuspecting family members. When the next chance rolled around I dug into some recipes cross reference the stuff I actually had on hand and came up with three options, which I will share at the bottom of this post. Back in my kitchen I successfully made a batch of pineapple mango ghost pepper sauce that turned out really well. Hot but nicely balance with the sweet. Second to that I took the Thai Chillis and made a sweet chilli Thai sauce. The kids liked that one. Finally I have dried the rest, save the jalapeños, to make Harissa, which I’ll share later. The jalapeños I have pegged for a pepper jelly I think.
But wait! There’s more. A trip to Larry’s farm apparently is not complete without a tour of his nuts. Get your mind out of the gutter, it’s all on the up an up, Larry inherited his family nut tree farm and he insisted we take a gander. I can honestly say I’ve never seen so many different varieties of nuts in one place, other than bulk barn before Christmas. Given our harsh winters I was surprised that he was managing to grow, all in the same grove, hazelnuts, pecans, black walnuts, chestnuts, ginkgo, and heartnuts. I learned a little bit and we were able to sample some fresh hazelnuts, while marvelling at the peppery smell of black walnuts and spiciness of fresh pecans. Really, cool experience. I’m hoping to see if I can get some chestnuts this fall, I’m curious to try roasting them.
All in all it was an unexpected highlight that started out as a whim. And I ended up with some pretty decent hot sauce to show for it.
Link to Pineapple Mango Ghost Pepper Sauce is here.
Link to Sweet Chilli Thai Sauce is here. And it’s gluten free if that is a thing for you.
Thanks for reading, I appreciate it.