Posts Tagged ‘beaver dam pepper’

Grow it to save it – Who will be the Beaver Dam Pepper Champion 2013?

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

The time has come for you to join Slow Food Chicago, Slow Food WiSE and Scrumptious Pantry in the Beaver Dam Pepper Celebration this year, and if you’re wondering how you can participate then you came to the right place. Join our Beaver Dam Pepper Championship! Who will grow the largest Beaver Dam Pepper this year and become the Beaver Dam Pepper Champion 2013?

Participating is easy - First you need to obtain a Beaver Dam Pepper seedling! If you are in Chicago take advantage of the Peterson Garden Project's plant sale May 10th – 12th. In Milwaukee, you will find Beaver Dam Pepper seedlings at Webers Garden Center, 4215 North Green Bay Avenue or at the Village Green Street Fair in Wauwatosa on June 1 at the booth of Slow Food WiSE.

Seedlings will give you a kick start, but  if you don't have a chance to get your hands on one, planting a seed should hopefully still work - though you will get less peppers and get them later (order seeds at Seed Savers Exchange).

Then, find the perfect place to plant your Beaver Dam Pepper. You will need a 1 ft. square plot in your garden. Even a large planter on your sunny front porch would work. The pepper takes about 80 days to come to fruit and may require trellises, as the peppers can grow up to 9 inches long!

And finally, the last step to participate in the Beaver Dam Pepper Championship is to watch your pepper grow and report its progress by posting photo updates of your growing peppers on our Facebook page or on twitter using the hashtags #BeaverDamPepper #pepperazzi. We also hope you will be sharing recipes you come up with. And if you have questions and need growing tips, our farmer team will give answers on Facebook and twitter, too.

The Beaver Dam Pepper Celebration will culminate in a weeklong extravaganza from September 16-22nd: we'll have awesome Chefs in Milwaukee and Chicago preparing special dishes with the Beaver Dam Pepper for our Tour de Menu, pop up at Farmers Markets with our roadshow - and we're organizing a huge & fun Beaver Dam Pepper Community Potluck in Chicago. The winner of the Beaver Dam Pepper Growing Competition will be announced at the potluck on September 22 - up for grabs is a Scrumptious Pantry gift basket valued at $100.

Will you be the 2013 Beaver Dam Pepper Champion?



Kick Off! Beaver Dam Pepper Celebration 2013

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Spring is finally here and with that comes Beaver Dam Pepper growing season! What a better way to kick off this year’s Beaver Dam Pepper Celebration than to head over to Chavez Elementary School on Earth Day to build a learning garden to teach these kids the importance of sustainability and biodiversity.

We were excited to build plots together with the teams from Kitchen Community and Hyatt. Soon, seeds will sprout and a colorful selection of vegetables will celebrate local food – among them our Beaver Dam Pepper! Kids all over the city from different schools will also be joining us in growing the Beaver Dam Pepper. Growing of this heirloom variety will help kids understand the rich history heirlooms have and why it is important to preserve this nearly extinct pepper.

With the Beaver Dam Celebration just around the corner we invite our local community to get involved in growing the pepper in their own organic gardens to celebrate biodiversity. Do you have your Beaver Dam Pepper seeds yet?

This year we are adding a growing competition to the Beaver Dam Pepper Celebration. Who will grow the biggest Beaver Dam Pepper ? It might be you who is up for the title of Pepper King or Queen! You will be able to track everyone’s progress and share photos of your plant through our Facebook page.

We look forward to having a Beaver Dam Pepper growing competition with the Learning Garden/Kitchen Community schools, the Peterson Garden Project's five Chicago area community garden, Slow Food's Preserve Garden - and you! - to see who can grow the biggest Beaver Dam Pepper!  After all, its size (it grows up to 12 inches long), is what is threatening the pepper's survival. Contact us if you need help finding Beaver Dam Pepper seeds or seedlings.

Note - You do not have to be in Chicago to participate and celebrate this awesome heirloom pepper!

Putting the heirloom in pickle

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

I believe in canning, putting up the glory of summer for winter. I always loved the fresh tasting flavors of the quick refrigerator, but could not get around liking the store bought ones. Even the fancy brands seemed to be tasting too much like vinegar, salt and spices. To my palate that is. Hence I got my mind set on a line of pickles very soon - especially as here at The Scrumptious Pantry it is all about making foods that are connected with the culinary heritage of a region. If not pickles made in the Midwest, then where? All those immigrants from Germany, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe - pickling was their preferred choice of preserving the summer bounty.

And that is the keyword PRESERVE. We wanted to make pickles that preserve the flavor of the ingredients, accentuate the character of the veggies - not alter it to a point that if you took out the texture component and taste a pickle blindfolded you would be unable to identify the veggie.

Today, we are launching our first two products in the new line of pickles. It has been in the works for two years now. Our obsession with authenticity led us to put up jars and jars of pickles, trying every pickle recipe we could find in historic recipe books. Just for the fun of it, I just counted the open jars in my fridge that represent the various stages of testing (and which I am eating no matter how they taste cause I cannot throw food away. A salty dill pickle for example is great in an omelette w. potatoes) - 38 jars. I still have 38 open jars in my fridge, and 47 jars that have already been cleaned and stored away for the next round of testing. That equals 85 different test batches on four products. Now, surely that is not a lot of R&D for big food companies. It is a lot for us.

Besides canning batch after batch in the test kitchen, this project  led us to browse seed catalogues and speak with agricultural historians, in our quest to identify vegetables that have a history in the Midwest. With all the Polish & German immigration patterns beets made it onto our list pretty early in the process. The Giardiniera was decided on without much discussion, too, because this vegetable medley is the signature "vegetable preserve" of Chicago. The Lemon Cucumber we fell in love with at local Farmer's Markets. And then the Beaver Dam Pepper jumped out at us, when we were researching the Slow Food Arch of Taste – a listing of culturally significant varietals at the brink of extinction. The Beaver Dam Pepper was introduced to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, around 1913 by an Hungarian immigrant. It has a mildly spicy flavor and is just delicious. But it is very difficult to grow – the peppers can get enormous, requiring to put up trellises. So although it was a great tasting pepper, it was abandoned in favor of the easier to grow varieties


                                                                                       John of Stone Circle Farm with a small (!) Beaver Dam Pepper

Luckily by word of mouth we found a farm in Reeseville – Stone Circle Farm – that had been growing some experimental Beaver Dam Pepper plants last year. And how excited we were to hear that John would be willing to give the Beaver Dam Pepper a try on a larger scale. He brought on another Farm close to Beaver Dam – Good Earth Farm- and we were ready to go. We had some setbacks and we had some great successes. Some beautiful peppers and some pretty ugly ones, scarred up with sunburn. The spice profile for brine we developed for the Beaver Dam Pepper was reminiscent of the flavors of Hungary, and we are pretty excited about what we think is a greatly balanced flavor, supporting the characteristic taste of the Beaver Dam Pepper.

Today, we are launching the Beaver Dam Pepper and the Lemon Cucumber. Giardiniera and beets should follow before Thanksgiving. We want to thank our Farmers - John, Nicole, Rink, Jenny, Alison, Alex, Andy and Dirk - for trusting us with their beautiful veggies. A special thank you also to all our taste testers, that might not have tasted through all 85 batches, but still ate a considerable amount of pickled veggies. I personally want to thank Andy Fair, my partner in the kitchen, for not giving up on me and my quest for the perfect preserved pickle.

All our pickles make great additions to a Cheese plate or as an antipasto, but my favorite match so far are slow cooked beans with pulled pork over rice and a Beaver Dam Pepper on the side. How do you like to eat our pickles? Have a taste and let us know! They are available in our online store and moving to your trusted retailers in these days, too.