First, I love sugar, or I thought I did. I mean, what’s not to like? It’s sweet, and sweet is good, right? As “THEY” (that’s the ubiquitous they, that mysterious group of experts and pundits who continually send out PR so we’ll know how to live our lives) tell us, sweet is the first taste that human babies recognize–and become addicted to. And I’m surely as addicted as anyone else.
But since I started making my pepper jellies as an part-time occupation, I’m slowly losing my fondness for the stuff. It crunches under my feet when I spill it. It dissolves on my skin and leaves a sticky film. It burns when I’m not careful about stirring the pot. And I’ve tasted so much of my jelly as I develop and refine recipes that I’m getting to the point that sweet actually doesn’t taste good any more.
Oh my goodness. Who knew that could happen? What am I going to do if ice cream begins to taste dull? Curl up and die I’m sure. Or lose weight. Hey! No…I’d rather keep the extra pounds.
It looks like I’ll just have to accept the possibility of coming to hate sugar, because the jelly-making is here to stay. I’ve even taken (and am pretty certain I passed) my Food Safety Manager Certification, so I can manage myself when I work. Wash your hands, Denise! I can’t believe you spilled the sugar again! Check the refrigerator temperature and this time WRITE IT DOWN. What? You forgot to buy the notebook after I sent you out to get it!? You’re fired! (I fire myself at least twice a day.)
So I now spend half my day chopping Jalapenos, Pasilla/Poblanos (I’m told they’re called Pasillas before they’re roasted and Poblanos after), and my new favorite, a pepper my Mexican-born neighbor calls “Hot Yellow Pepper”. I think they’re actually Gueros. Whatever they are is good! They’re not quite as hot as the jalapenos and when I mix them with a couple of yellow Bell peppers they make the prettiest golden-yellow jelly I’ve ever seen–almost as pretty as the bright red jelly that is produced from red Bells and red Jalapenos.
Which brings me to the eyes streaming part of this. Hoky Smokes, Bullwinkle! Between these Guero puppies and the Jalapenos, by the end of my four hours I’m breathing fire and my eyes are watering. As I chop them they release their Capsicum into the air, and when you’re chopping pounds at a time, that’s a lot of heat. Hopefully OSHA won’t show up or maybe I’ll develop a HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point–see, I was paying attention in class) Procedure to help mitigate this over-release of hot oil into the air. No doubt, it’ll call for donning a surgical mask and goggles. But I’m not ready to do that yet, not when there’s any possibility that breathing enough of this stuff might turn me into a dragon. You see, I’ve got this huge–and I do mean huge–pile of wood at the back of the property that really just needs to go up in flames.