When I was a child, I loved tongue twisters. The kids on our block would challenge each other with tales of Peter Piper, She Sells Sea Shells, and the wood chucking Woodchuck. I was pretty good at it. Yes, I was then, and am now, a pretty fast talker. But I digress.
The fable of Peter Piper and his famous pickled peppers begins like this:
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
Our freezer is full of jalapeno peppers. We love them, but have harvested so many this summer that we are getting sick of them. This past Sunday we picked another 10 pounds of peppers. More tiny peppers are still ripening. You might say our pulchritudinous, persistently-propitious pepper plants have practically punished us with a ponderous plethora of palatable peppers!
What to do? What to do? Enter pickled peppers. It was quite a job to pickle these 10 pounds of peppers. As a pickling neophyte it was harder than it needed to be. To get this done I had to:
Buy more canning jars.
Scan the internet for the perfect, pickled pepper recipe.
Slice the peppers.
Soak the sliced peppers for 24 hours in a mixture of pickling lime and water.
Rinse the sliced peppers and soak in clean water for another hour.
Rinse again and soak for another hour.
Rinse and soak, yet again.
Sterilize the canning jars, lids and rings.
Add mustard and celery seed to the jars.
Fill the jars with sliced peppers.
Realize I was four jars short of being able to use all the sliced peppers.
Accept the fact that I was past the point of no return, groan and continue working.
Fill the pepper-filled jars with a boiling solution of vinegar, water and pickling salt.
Screw the two-piece lids onto the jars.
Place filled jars into a boiling water bath and boil for 10 minutes.
Sterilize four more jars and lids.
Make more vinegar solution and bring it to a boil.
Add the mustard and celery seed to the four remaining jars.
Fill these four jars with the remaining peppers.
Add the 1/2 cup of peppers that wouldn't fit into the jars to the compost pile because I did not have the energy to even think about how to use them.
Add the boiling vinegar solution to the last four jars.
Make more vinegar solution when I realized I did not have enough to fill the last jar.
Add more water to the canning pot and wait for it to boil.
Process the last four jars in the boiling water bath.
Allow the processed jars to cool for 24 hours.
Check to see the jars were properly sealed.
Admire my handiwork.
Get the picture? Contrary to the fraud that was perpetrated on us as children - you cannot simply waltz out to your garden and casually “pick” a peck of pickled peppers. Long, long ago someone else recognized the fallacy in the tale and stepped forward to ask:
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
Good question. To find the answer, might I suggest you start by touching base with Peter's mother. You can probably find her in the kitchen standing over a boiling pot of vinegar, water and salt.
P.S. Does this mean that no one is selling seashells down by the seashore? Do woodchucks really chuck wood?