Crushed Red Pepper

I had several nice Jalepeno peppers that I needed to use up. Most of them had matured and turned red. I decided to just slice and dehydrate them and then chop them up in the little electric coffee grinder. This gives me a charming little item to experiment with in my cooking. Actually, I think this would be a good thing to do with ANY peppers you might have on hand. I can envision a whole array of lovely spices made this way. 😀

Wash the jalapenos, and pat dry.
Slice off the stem ends and then slice the peppers thinly.
Arrange on dehydrator sheets and dehydrate until crisp. Be sure to use the SHEETS so the seeds won’t fall through.
After they are thoroughly dry, crush them into a powder in a little electric coffee grinder.
Store in an airtight jar in your cupboard.

Preserving Fresh Herbs

Preserving fresh herbs from your garden is very easy and can provide wonderful flavor (and a significant boost in nutrition) for your family’s meals for the whole year!

Bring a quantity (large or small) of freshly picked herbs into the kitchen. The best time to pick them is just before they bloom, but they may be used later as well.
Wash herbs in plenty of cold water. Remove leaves from the stems and pat dry in a clean cotton dish towel or spin them in a salad spinner to remove excess water.
Process the leaves in a food processor just until they are chopped. Do not puree.
Put the chopped leaves into a glass jar. Pour raw vinegar over the herbs until they are covered.
Store this jar, covered, in the refrigerator.
The herbs will shrink over time, but they are still wonderful to use. You can scoop out the amount you need and squeeze out the vinegar, or not, depending on your recipe. They will keep for many months.
The vinegar is a wonderful addition to homemade salad dressings and marinades as well, being full of flavor!
I do this with basil, oregano, lavender, sage, thyme, and parsley. If you have other favorite herbs, they should do well also!
Raw apple cider vinegar is the most easily sourced, but there are other wonderful raw vinegars available, for instance, wine, rice, and balsamic. Keep your eyes open at your favorite health food outlet, and you can tailor the combinations to your own menus.

Instant Taco Seasoning Mix

Everyone loves taco night. But when you’re in the pinch of the weeknight bustle, it’s easy to be tempted by expensive instant mixes (with ingredients that make you shudder). Save time and money by storing this simple homemade mix in your cupboard — and make taco night everyone’s favorite again.

Combine ingredients in a jar. Shake to combine.
2-3 TB of mix = 1 instant package of taco seasoning.
To cook, add 2-3 TB of mix to 1lb of beans and/or ground meat.
NOTE: Not a fan of traditional tacos or want to avoid corn? Make a salad using lettuce, cheese, salsa, meat (beef, chicken, etc), beans, and guacamole.
TIP: To save money, we buy our spices in bulk from a local health food store.

Homemade Blackening Seasoning

Blackening seasoning is often expensive to buy in the store. Most likely, you already have everything you need to make a batch of this versatile seasoning mix. This mix goes great on meats, in sauces, dressings, dips, and more.

Stir all of the ingredients together in a bowl and store in an airtight container, preferably a glass jar.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Coming up with homemade seasonings has taken a while. I don’t know why; they’re so easy to assemble and such a better choice than anything a supermarket has to offer. Be sure to purchase only organic spices as most conventional ones have been irradiated (not good). You can make this in big batches to have on hand, or just throw the spices on the beef as it cooks, which is what I find myself doing most of the time. Whenever possible, I like to use fresh garlic to benefit from it’s many good properties, but obviously if you’re wanting to make a big batch, it’s better to go with dried/ground so it can be stored. A little jar of this is a great addition to a gift basket, or presented in a cute half-pint mason jar is a sweet (er, spicy) present on it’s own. Here is our taco seasoning that my kids have decided is their favorite (they are my hardest critiques, you know):

Mix all ingredients. Store in an airtight container (I used clean old spice jars or little mason jars)
Use about 3 tablespoons mix with 1 pound browned ground beef (or meat of your choice. It’s also great with chicken). Mix with about 1/2 cup water and let it simmer so the meat really absorbs the flavor without drying out.

Preserved Fresh Genovese Basil

A simple method for preserving your fresh Genovese Basil. This will keep at least a year in the refrigerator and may be used in any dish that calls for basil.

Wash basil and pat dry between towels or twirl in a salad spinner.
Remove leaves from stems.
Chop leaves in a food processor.
Place chopped leaves in lidded jar and cover with Raw Apple Cider Vinegar.
Store in the refrigerator.

Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

Homemade vinegar has a wonderful deep rich taste. Different from commercial vinegars it is quite unique and you will always want to have some on hand. Easy to make, it is really the magical microbes that do the work. You just have to give them a pot and two ingredients and they create their magic.

Place the vinegar and the apple cider in a crock or jar make sure the crock does not have lead based paint and is food grade. It should hold at least a gallon with enough extra room for air circulation.
Cover the opening with a cloth or cotton tea towel. Place in a warm spot (68 to 70 F) for 1 to 2 months. Check it occasionally and sniff it. It will gradually take on a distinct vinegar smell and you will notice a slight film on the top.
When the mixture taste and smells like vinegar pour a third and place it in airtight bottles.
Save the culture and extra vinegar and replace with equal amounts of apple cider and start the process again. The process will take less time so check it often. Mine has been done as soon as two weeks.
You can also bottle all of it and throw away the culture.
You can also make red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar using the same recipe but you have to find a red and white wine vinegar with the mother in it. This means unpasteurized vinegar. You will see sediment at the bottom of the bottle. It will say unpasteurized or with the mother on the bottle. I have found some at the local health food store. So the recipe is as follows.
1-1/2 cups of red wine vinegar with mother (I use the Eden brand with the mother)
4 ½ cups of red wine
Or for white wine vinegar
1-1/2 cups of white wine vinegar with the mother
4 ½ cups of white wine
Follow the instructions above