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Jessica’s Garden: Heating it up with Homemade Hotsauce

Spicy Hot Peppers

I love spicy food. Not the kind of spicy that leaves you teary-eyed, wounded and begging for mercy. But a good heat that leaves your lips tingling for little while afterwards. I have an affinity for pickled jalapenos and hot sauce. I conquered pickled jalapeno rings many years ago but had yet to attempt hot sauce. A lot of the recipes for canning hot sauce I found were tomato based with hot pepper as an ingredient at the bottom of the list.

Fermenting Hot Sauce

I needed a recipe that made hot peppers the star of the show; the hot peppers are the only vegetable besides a few hardy herbs still lingering from my Summer garden. I found a recipe for fermenting hot sauce and was able to incorporate my fish pepper and red jalapeno harvest.

Not only have I never attempted my own hot sauce, but this is my first experiment with fermentation, to which I have been fairly tentative. I started the mix a few days ago, but the process can take around a month to complete.

At the end of it all, it’s supposed to taste like classic Louisiana hot sauce. I’ll check back in at the end of the experiment.

I was also lucky enough, by my standards, to have acquired four giant puffball mushrooms this week. I remember as a child kicking the small puffballs and watching them puff a little black cloud after they had gone to spore. Keep in mind once again that I am not an expert in wild mushroom foraging. However, the giant puffball mushrooms I found are edible. As long as when sliced in half they are pure white with no signs of spores they are generally safe to consume. I have only four wild edible mushrooms that I am confident in consuming as they are easy to identify and recognize. If you are interested in learning more on this, please do ample research that also includes guidance from an expert or mycology association.

Noggin Sized Puffball Mushroom

I shamelessly picked three of the giant mushrooms myself, one of which was even larger than my head. After picking enough of these to feed a small village, it was time to get creative on usage.

So far we’ve had a couple of suppers, dehydrated some and frozen several bags of sautéed strips for omelets and casseroles this Winter. I’ve read that cut into ¾” disks and lightly grilled, they can be used as gluten free and vegetarian pizza crust substitutions.

I decided to make homemade Puffball Parmesan and it was legitimately fantastic. The canned spaghetti sauce my best friend and I made together earlier this season was a perfect accompaniment. I prepared it in the same fashion as either eggplant or chicken parmesan would be. I would imagine that store bought mushrooms such as large white button mushrooms or another variety of a large and fleshy white mushroom could also be substituted.

Puffball Parmesan

Puffball Parmesan
Serves 4-6

6 Chicken Breast Sized slabs of Puffball Mushroom, cut 1” thick
2 C Breadcrumbs
1 ½ C All Purpose or Whole Wheat Flour
3 Large Eggs
1 jar Favorite Pasta Sauce
1 Ball Fresh Mozzarella; sliced
1 Lb Angel Hair Pasta; cooked
2 Tbsp each butter and olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Set up three mixing bowls separately containing the flour seasoned with salt and pepper, eggs whisked and breadcrumbs also seasoned. Dip each slab respectively in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs. Once all pieces are coated, in a large skillet, pan fry until golden brown on both sides. Lay in a single layer in a baking dish. Cover evenly with sauce and slices of mozzarella. Bake uncovered in oven for about 25 minutes until bubbly and brown. Serve over angel hair pasta.

Much like eggplant, the puffballs are very porous and will soak in the oil. They can be placed on paper towels to pull some of the oil before putting into the baking dish if desired. Once cooked, the consistency of the mushroom was very much like fresh mozzarella.

Posted By: Jessica J. Crawford Behnkes Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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