Embrace the heat of jalapenos

by BETHANY GRABER – BostonGlobe.com – JULY 28, 2015

Summer is the perfect time to embrace the heat — of hot peppers. The green jalapeno is relatively mild, but just spicy enough to raise the hairs on your arms. Their heat lies primarily in their internal seeds and pith, which can be removed easily by cutting off the pepper’s top and using a small spoon or knife to scoop them out (or since some like it hot, they can be left in to up the heat level). These delightful petit peppers (also in yellow and purple) pack a raw punch, but cooking brings out their sweetness. Slice them lengthwise. Fill them with a mixture of cream cheese, fresh corn, and a dash of paprika, and bake them for an easy appetizer. Char them on the grill whole to give them a smoky quality; then chop for salsa or guacamole or puree them whole with garlic, olive oil, lime juice, plain yogurt, and cilantro to create a creamy sauce for fish or chicken. Get them while they’re hot. Available at farmers’ markets and farm stands.

Cascabella Pepper Seeds

People call Tito’s asking where to buy cascabella pepper seeds.  Tito’s bulk resources for cascabella pepper seeds are of little use to these callers.  As such, we wish to provide some resources for seeds that will yield cascabellas.  While Tito’s does not endorse any of the resources provided here at least we can confirm that the images associated with their products appear to be cascabellas and not some other variety of yellow chile peppers that are often confused with real cascabella peppers.

Here is one resource that is a very reputable seed company:


Cascabella Hot Peppers Pack/ 10

Non-Treated Seeds

Description: 85 days. Capsicum annuum. Cascabella pepper plant produces good yields of 1 ¾” long by ¾” wide conical shaped hot peppers. Cascabella peppers have thick skin and turns from creamy-yellow, to orange, to red when mature. Plant has green stems, green leaves, and white flowers. Most often used when creamy-yellow. An excellent pickling variety. United States Department of Agriculture, NSL 20162. A variety from the USA. pk/10

Directions per reimerseeds.com website:

Hot Pepper Seed Planting Information (per reimerseeds.com website):

Some hot pepper varieties come from tropical humid regions and some varieties come from dry desert regions. The temperature, moisture, and air circulation all play a role in growing plants from seeds. Too little heat, too much moisture, and lack of air circulation will cause poor results. Do not use jiffy peat pots, plugs, or potting soil as the soil becomes too dry or too wet, which can lead to disease and fungus. We have experienced disease and low germination when using these types of products. Use Miracle Gro Seed Starting Material for best germination results. Read theHot Pepper Growing Tips and Planting Instructions for information on growing hot peppers from seeds. Please take time to watch the Hot Pepper Planting Instructions Movie . Plants can grow 1 to 7 ft tall.


Tour de Jalapeno Bike Race & Tour

Tito’s is proud to sponsor this years Tour de Jalapeno bike race & tour taking place in San Marcos, Texas on August 2, 2015.  Tito’s is even prouder that the organizers of the Tour de Jalapeno had to make a last minute announcement after picking up the jalapenos last week.  Per the Tour de Jalapeno Facebook page:

“HOT Jalapeno Alert !!!!!!!
Tito’s Jalapeno’s are BIG and HOT…… Due to the large size and Heat we are adjusting the time deductions for each Jalapeno eaten from 2 minutes to 5 Minutes.

This brilliant event incorporates a race where riders have the opportunity to stop at two different stations where they can consume as many jalapenos as possible and for each jalapeno eaten 5 minutes (historically two minutes) will be deducted from their total time.

Riders will be enjoying Tito’s dill pickle juice at all rest stops and those who are brave enough to will have an opportunity to eat all of the whole jalapenos they can handle in an effort to reduce their overall times.  Everyone who comes out gets a package of sliced jalapenos in their riders kits.  This is going to be a great event and Tito’s is proud to sponsor it!

Tour de Jalapeno Logo


Pickle party: annual canning event draws fans from all over to Delmont

DELMONT — They’re claimed to be “the best pickles you’ve ever had.”

It’s a big statement, sure. But there may be justification for the Grosz family’s pickles. About 50 people—some traveling up to three hours away—recently spent their entire Saturday on a pickle-making assembly line. And they paid to take some of these famous pickles home.

For each of the last 18 years, family and friends and some newcomers have made their way to Delmont to be a part of the annual Grosz Pickle Packin’ Party held at the Delmont Community Center. Nearly 2,000 quart jars of pickles were produced during this annual one-day event.

Organizers Terry and Sam Grosz send out invitations more than a month in advance to prepare for the event. Starting out as a way to hold a family reunion and see distant relatives, now there’s what could be considered a “pickle family.”

“We see some of these people once a year and it’s grown to the point where I don’t know every person here,” Terry said. “But people are here to have fun and make some pretty good pickles in the process.”

The process starts in the back of the community center, where five propane turkey cookers are brewing up the brine for the pickles. It is kept as close to boiling as possible before it goes into the jars. By the end of the day, they’ve mixed hundreds of gallons of brine.

In the front of the building, a U-shaped assembly line is formed, where cucumbers are the first item in the jar, followed by a litany of vegetables and seasonings before the brine is added and the jars are sealed.

One of the sons in the operation, Brian Grosz, wears welder’s gloves to keep from getting burned cooking the brine. He said the pilgrimage to Delmont for the pickles starts with their quality.

“They’re good pickles, number one. They’re good pickles,” he said. “But I think so many people just like spending time with each other because we have a good time with each other.”

History of the party

For the last 18 years, the Grosz family has been holding a canning party on a July weekend. Terry said the idea started about 20 years ago when his cousins from California—who had 15 children—invited them out to participate in their pickling party as a way to see the family. They brought home 18 jars of pickles. When the party started, it was just five members of the Grosz family under a tent in the yard.

“It took us all day to make 120 jars,” Terry said. “The next year we had a few more and then it was a few more after that. We moved into the community center about 14 to 15 years ago and it just keeps growing.”

This year, the final count for jars made was 1,967, a figure that flexes each year depending on the number of people and how many supplies are available. The record for quart jars produced by the group in one day is 2,800.

“It can get to be a bit unwieldy,” Sam joked.

There are a few ground rules for the party. There’s a maximum of 36 jars per person packing pickles. People are allowed to deviate from the basic recipe but they have to bring their own ingredients that they wish to add. The cucumbers—each not longer than about five inches—come from about seven or eight area Hutterite Colonies near Delmont, Terry says.

About 85 invitations were sent out this year and it’s first-come, first-serve for the participants. There’s more than six hours of pickling, and a potluck lunch splits the day at noon.

The recipe

Terry made a promise to his California cousin years ago that he would never give it up, and he’s stayed true to his promise. He’s refuted inquiries from as far away as Arizona for the recipe. But he admits it’s not hard to figure out and there’s one secret ingredient he can always control.

“It’s TLC—tender, love and care,” Terry said. “Honestly, that makes a big difference.”

In addition to the vegetables, the brine includes vinegar, salt and cider to make the magic happen.

“Other than that, I don’t know what makes them so good,” he said. “We buy good cucumbers and clean them up good. It’s a combination of things.”

Speaking of cleaning the cucumbers, the Grosz family cleans by hand but also uses two washing machines that are loaded up. Bath towels line the inside of the washing machine and isn’t too rough on the cucumbers as long as it is set on low, Terry said.

On the assembly line, Terry said some people can become territorial about having the same job each year.

“If it was a dog or a skunk, they would have marked their area with their leg in the air,” Terry joked.

David Malters, of Mitchell, was not one of those people. He had the job of pouring the brine into the jars. They try to keep the brine as close to boiling as possible.

“If anyone else wants to burn their hands, they can,” he quipped.

He’s one of the people who has put in a few years at the pickle party and says the pickle jars have a habit of disappearing when family is around.

“I can’t hardly keep the stuff around,” he said. “They’re as advertised.”

‘They’ve got a zing’

The Grosz family was among the fortunate ones in the May 10 tornado that hit Delmont, avoiding serious damage from the storm that destroyed dozens of homes. On the invitations for this year’s event, a drawing of a tornado was sketched out and reading “a tornado doesn’t stop us … we’re getting pickled” with two cartoon pickles.

“I really don’t think we ever gave it a second thought about not having it,” Terry said. “But it certainly had a huge impact on our town, and there would have been a lot of people let down if we couldn’t have done it this year.”

First-timers at the pickle party, Cotton Koch and his father, Harold, were helping at 150-gallon tanks where the cucumbers sit in pools of water and are washed for a first time. From Madison and Chamberlain, the Kochs admit they’re new at the pickle party, so much so that they had never even tasted the pickles.

“We just heard about it and figured we had to try it out,” Harold said.

Hearing they had never eaten one of the prized pickles, Sheila Kluck interjected with a testimonial.

“They’ve got a zing,” she said. “You won’t find a crisper pickle.”

Kluck, from Richland, Neb., and her friend, Chuck Klement, of Columbus, Neb., are in the same gardening circles. They’re in the club of people who made a three-hour trip to Delmont.

“It is kind of crazy when you stop and think about it,” she said. “But they’re that good.”

Klement said he credits the Grosz family for taking on the big challenge of pickling cases and cases of pickles each year.

“You can tell this is something they put lots of love into,” he said. “They’re great people and my hats are off to them.”

Terry Grosz said he enjoys the fact that all walks of life are represented—lawyers, doctors, farmers, mechanics—and they’re part of what makes the annual pickle party what it is.

“It’s a case of happy people that enjoy themselves and like what they’re doing and they certainly like the finished product,” Terry said.

Burger lovers like to heat things up in Australia

David Johns | July 24, 2015, 9:00 AM | GUARDIAN EXPRESS

WEST Australian burger lovers like it hot, according to new research released by fast food chain McDonald’s.

Statistics gathered by the company show that WA customers were more likely to add jalapenos to their burger than customers in any other State.

The research follows on from a new initiative in which customers can construct their own burgers in-store at McDonald’s outlets.

The figures also showed that West Australians had created more than 78,000 different burger combinations – 60 per cent of which were unique to WA.

South Australians prefer shaved parmesan cheese on their burgers the most while Victorians love their rasher bacon.

Curiously, the preferred burger ingredients for Tasmanians are tortilla chips and pineapple.

A Pickle A Day May Keep Your Anxiety At Bay

Fermented food appears to calm the nerves of the socially challenged

Pickles, like many other fermented foods, can be an acquired taste. But, evidence suggests that might be a taste worth acquiring if you suffer from anxiety, as Rebecca Rupp reports for National Geographic.

study in the August issue of Psychiatry Research finds that fermented foods— such as pickles, sauerkraut, and yogurt—eases the eater’s social anxiety and in particular their neuroticism. The culprit: Probiotics or healthy bacteria that ferments the food. “It is likely that the probiotics in the fermented foods are favorably changing the environment in the gut, and changes in the gut in turn influence social anxiety,” Matthew Hillimire, a psychologist at the College of William and Mary and a co-author of the study, said in a statement.

Hillmire and his colleagues enlisted 710 college students at William & Mary to record how much fermented food they ate and any symptoms of neuroticism, anxiety or social phobia that they felt over the same period. The team found a link between the amount of fermented food subjects consumed and the level of social anxiety they felt. Particularly neurotic subjects saw a decrease in their symptoms of shyness and fear of social situations when they ate more fermented food.

The study may suggest a link between fermented food and anxiety, but it’s unclear if or how the sour foods might be relieving the socially challenged, but they think the microbiome may be involced. Previous studies in mice and other animals hinted that probiotics positively influence the human gut, and that healthy gut bacteria might have some implications for the mind as well. Rupp cites studies suggesting that mice without bacteria are more anxious and susceptible to stress. Clinical trials of probiotic substances had also pointed to potential mental health benefits, but those results are less clear-cut.

The good bacteria may increase levels of chemical in the brain called GABA controls anxiety. GABA sends messages to activate the same neural pathways as compounds in anti-anxiety medication. As Rupp puts it, “In other words, if you’ve got a case of social jimjams, eating a bowl of sauerkraut may be the equivalent of popping a Valium. Or maybe even better.”

It’s worth noting that the microbial ecosystem that inhabits human bodies varies from one individual to another. Figuring out the exact cause and effect relationship between fermented food and anxiety will require further study.

So, if you’re socially challenged, a pickle might not be a cure-all, but there’s a chance it could help calm your fears.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/pickle-day-may-keep-your-anxiety-bay-180955661/#ZXbS2TK0KcGHEXOD.99
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Prevent pickling problems

Prevent pickling problems with good preparing, preserving and storing methods.

Posted on July 21, 2015 by Jeannie Nichols, Michigan State University Extension

There is an old tongue twister that you may remember.

“Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.

If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,

Where’s the peck of pickled peppers that Peter Piper picked?”

This rhyme was first published in London in 1813 by John Harris in Peter Piper’s Practical Principles of Plain and Perfect Pronunciation. If you didn’t know, a peck is one-fourth of a bushel.

This tongue twister can be hard to say and sometimes, pickles of all kinds give home canners difficulty, too. Cucumbers are a favorite food item to pickle. For a list of produce items that can be pickled visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Michigan State University Extension has some tips to help prevent pickling problems.

Preparing your pickles:

  • Use only fresh, blemish-free produce. For highest quality, pickle produce within 24 hours of picking it.
  • Rinse produce thoroughly under running lukewarm water. Do not use soap – use a vegetable brush if the produce can stand the brushing.
  • A pickling variety of cucumber produces the best quality pickles. Do not use waxed cucumbers. The wax prevents the cucumber from absorbing the brine.
  • Always remove 1/16 inch slice from the blossom end of vegetables, even though the blossom isn’t there the blossom ends have enzymes that can cause softening.

Preserving your pickles:

  • Hard water can interfere with the brining process, so use soft water. Hard water can be softened by boiling it for 15 minutes and letting it sit for 24 hours, covered. Remove the scum that appears and slowly pour the water from the container so the sediment that settles in the bottom will not be disturbed. The water is now ready to use. Distilled water can also be used.
  • Soak produce in ice water for four to five hours before pickling to make crisp pickles.
  • Use cider or white vinegar of five percent acidity. White distilled vinegar is often used for produce where clearness is desired, like onions, cauliflower and pears.
  • Use white sugar unless the recipe calls for brown. Sugar substitutes may cause bitterness or a loss of flavor. Sugar substitutes also do not plump the pickles and keep them firm like sugar.
  • Use pickling or canning salt. Other salts have an anti-caking material that can make the brine cloudy.
  • Never alter the amount of salt used in fermented pickles or sauerkraut. Fermentation depends on correct proportions of salt and other ingredients.
  • Fresh, whole spices are best to use for pickles. Powdered spices may cause the product to darken and the brine to become cloudy.
  • Firming agents, like alum or food grade lime, are not needed if fresh, high quality produce and ingredients are used, 1/16 is cut off the blossom end, the produce is soaked in ice water before pickling and up-to-date methods are followed for preparing and processing.

Storing your pickles:

  • Store processed pickles in a dark, cool, dry place.
  • For best quality and nutritive value, preserve no more than your family can eat in 12 months.

Taking the effort to prevent pickling problems is well worth your time and money. MSU Extension’s Michigan Fresh website offers free fact sheets available for download about using, storing and preserving all kinds of foods, including cucumber pickles.

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu.

Growing Cascabella Peppers

Cascabella is a popular variety of Chili pepper, which belongs to the Capsicum genus (Capsicum annuum longum group ‘Cascabella’). This variety is an Vegetable that typically grows as anAnnual, which is defined as a plant that matures and completes its lifecycle over the course of a single year. Cascabella normally grows to a max height of 1.49 feet (45.72 cm metric).

Mexico is believed to be where Cascabella originates from.

Cascabella Chili pepper is normally fairly low maintenance and is normally quite easy to grow, as long as a level of basic care is provided throughout the year. Being aware of the basic soil, sun and water preferences will result in a happier and healthier plant.

How to grow Cascabella

  • Full Sun

  • Medium

Try to plant in a location that enjoys full sun and remember to water moderately. Keep in mind when planting that Cascabella is thought of as tender, so it is really important to ensure that the outside temperature is well above freezing before planting or moving outdoors. The USDA Hardiness Zones typically associated with Cascabella are Zone 5 and Zone 12. Ensure your soil is loamy and sandy and has a ph of between 7.0 and 8.5 as Chili pepper is a neutral soil to weakly alkaline soil loving plant.

Growing Cascabella from seed

Look to ensure a distance 1.95 inches (5.0 cm) between seeds when sowing – bury at a depth of at least 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) deep. Soil temperature should be kept higher than 18°C / 64°F to ensure good germination.By our calculations, you should look at sowing Cascabella about 38 days before your last frost date.

Transplanting Cascabella

Ensure that temperatures are mild and all chance of frost has passed before planting out, as Cascabella is a tender plant.

Harvesting Cascabella

Other Names for Chili pepper ‘Cascabella’