Did anyone else have the Mystery Date board game when they were young? Now that I think back on it, it may well be the least politically-correct game ever invented, but I got hours of enjoyment out of spinning the door handle and ‘revealing’ the future man in my life. I was also a fan of Let’s Make a Deal (I’ll take door number 3, Monty); I always like the risk that you’ll trade away something good for something fantastic, or, of course, a zonk!. If I had the programming chops, I would make you all choose “door number ?” to reveal the October Can Jam ingredient, but since I’m nowhere near that proficient, you’ll just have to keep reading.
So, it’s October (or it will be) and although the growing season is winding down, there is still plenty of delicious bounty to be preserved even well into the Fall. I am honored, and tickled pink, to be the chooser for this month’s Can Jam ingredient. So, what shall it be? What’s behind Door Number 1, Monty?
Apples are an obvious choice; plenty acidic, packed full of pectin, can-jamming apples is as easy as falling off a log. But, maybe, just maybe, we need more of a challenge, now that we are in month 10 of the Can Jam Challenge. How about Door Number 2, Monty?
Could she be crazy enough to choose winter squash? Although my passion for pumpkins, gourds and all-things-winter-squash knows no bounds, they are sadly persquasha-non-grata in the water-bath-canning world, at least according to the USDA. Perhaps a little too challenging, no? Could it be Door Number 3?
Ta da! The October Mystery Ingredient is: chile peppers! Now, you know you shouldn’t be surprised. Tigress & I are probably the biggest chile heads you know, and between us, we devised a deviously brilliant plan to come up with hundreds of fabulous new chile recipes – the October Can Jam! Chile peppers are the fruits of the plant family capsicum and include all sorts of peppers, from sweet red & green bell peppers to fiery habaneros. Any fruit of family capsicum is eligible: sweet or spicy, fresh, frozen or dried, as long as you use it in a water-bath cannable recipe, meaning you can open the field to anchos, chipotles and other fabulous dried chiles.
We do realize that the last few ‘choosers’ have been in the Northeast, and that Can Jammers in other parts of the country may be struggling to find local bounty that is Can-Jam-eligible; therefore the decision to include fresh, frozen or dried chiles, with the intent that local, seasonal bounty, of whatever season you are in, will be preserved, enhanced by the addition of chile peppers. Remember that fresh chile peppers are a low-acid vegetable, and as such, need either pickling or controlled amounts in a reliable recipe to be safe for water-bath canning. I think of this challenge as similar to herbs back in April; the chile should be essential to the flavor of the recipe, but need not necessarily be the main ingredient. So put your thinking caps on, rev up your capsaicin-loving tastebuds, and get ready for the October Can Jam!
Can jammers must post recipes between Sunday, October 17th and midnight on Friday, October 22nd to be included in the October recipe round-up. For chile-lovin’ inspiration, scroll through some of my own chile pepper recipes and start plotting how to spice up October’s bounty in your neck o’ the woods. Viva los chiles!