Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cabbage-Filled Peppers (Gluten Free)

 I bought a head of cabbage last week for to make the bean-cabbage-carrot salad, so I decided it was high time to tackle cabbage-stuffed peppers. This is not just a recipe for a vegetable side dish. These peppers, you will discover as you read the recipe, are pickled.  This recipe as made by me was somewhat fraught. I really should have done what I just did when I sat down to write and read a couple of blogs about pickling in a crock. This is ridiculously easy, according to the first blog I read, In  a post dated August 17, 2011, one of the South Dakota sisters explains how she bought a stoneware crock at an auction and made a whole crockful of pickles. Read her blog and do this her way. Don't do it my way. My way didn't work very well.
This is what I should have used.
I am not exactly a demon canner, but I am an experienced canner, so I decided to can the peppers, not pickle them in a crock. I mean, an open crock? What would prevent things from falling into the crock during the pickling process? You are supposed to store your crock in a cool, dry place. I store my canned goods in  a closet off the kitchen where we store all foodstuffs, 20 year old liquor bottles that don't have a place on the bar, coolers, and plastic bags to eventually be recycled. Just this morning I pulled a box of garbage bags and an unidentified bottle out of the plastic bag recycling bin. Stuff falls off the shelves all the time, due to the tendency of a person who will remain nameless to go to Trader Joe's and fill up with mustard and capers as though the apocalypse was approaching. The idea of a can of beans pickling along with the peppers was unattractive, to say the least.
Anyway, I decided to can the peppers. I went to Homestead Farm in Poolesville and picked out 10 smallish green peppers. I should have gone to Safeway and bought a gallon of vinegar, which I had to do later. The recipe calls for two cups of vinegar. Even if you can in a crock, I would think you would need more vinegar than that, since the vinegar is supposed to cover the vegetables.
When I got home, I dug out the canning kettle from the cupboard over the refrigerator and the quart size large mouth (more about that later) jars from the basement and went to work scalding the jars. Then, I selected six of the smallest peppers, washed them, cut the tops off, removed the seeds, and packed them with the cabbage I had chopped up and mixed with salt and mustard seeds.
I put an enamelware pan filled with vinegar on the stove to heat up and filled the peppers with the cabbage. Note that the peppers have not been steamed or cooked in any way. I then attempted to secure the pepper top to the pepper bottoms with toothpicks, as per the recipe. The problem with that was, it was fairly obvious that when I went to insert said peppers into the jar, the toothpicks sticking out of the sides of the peppers would impede the process. So I gingerly removed the toothpicks and tried to stick them back in vertically. This kind of worked.
Then I fished the hot jars, one by one, out of the canning kettle and started filling the jars. Uncooked peppers, as you probably know, are stiff. They have some give to them, but not a lot. The diameter of my peppers was greater than the diameter of the jars, so getting the little mothers in there was not so easy. I was able to get them in without breaking the peppers. Often the toothpicks came loose and the tops just sat on top of the peppers.
One pepper did not exactly fill a jar, but there did not seem to be room for an extra pepper. I allowed one pepper per jar and started pouring in the hot vinegar. The cabbage, no longer kept in check by the pepper tops, floated out to the top of the jar. So, you see, I should have pickled the peppers in a crock, as directed.

Cabbage-Filled Peppers

6 large green peppers, left whole
1/2 head cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
2 cups cider vinegar, approximately (I'm sure you will need more than that, at least a quart)

1. Wash the peppers and remove stems. Slice off tops and reserve. Remove cores and seeds without breaking shells.
2. Mix the cabbage with the salt and mustard seeds and press down into the pepper shells. Pack firmly. Fasten tops back on with toothpicks.
3. Arrange peppers upright in a stone jar and cover with the vinegar. Or the peppers can be packed into hot sterilized jars. Add hot vinegar, seal and process in a water bath thirty minutes. Cool, test, vacuum seal and store in a cool, dry, dark, place.  Makes six peppers.

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