During their years in Pepin, Wisconsin the Ingalls family had more and a bigger variety of food then they would until they became established in De Smet, South Dakota. Being settled they were able to have a larger variety of livestock and a garden. Living in the border area between woods, prairie, and lake, there was a much larger group of things they knew about to harvest from the wild. Many of which are described in Little House in the Big Woods including honey, molasses, fish, bear, deer, and forage for their pigs, etc.
The variety of food stuffs followed various methods of preservation. Laura describes the attic of the little house full of food preserved for the winter. One of the things she describes are dried peppers. There are different ways to dry them, but here is a beautiful thing you can dry like Laura.
A Pepper String
In old houses windows often had a peg on each side in the frame of the window. These pegs were used to press in to keep the window raised. Another use was an excellent way to dry pepper rings. Not only is this method useful, multicolored pepper rings drying in your window are lovely and give the sense that you are actively using your kitchen. Let’s walk through how you do this in both an old-fashioned kitchen and in your kitchen.
What You Need:
Washed Peppers, you’ll need several if you want the string to appear full
Suction Cups (if you don’t have old windows)
What You Need To Do
Step 1: Grow or buy bell peppers of various colors. – It doesn’t matter to the rings whether you buy them at a store or farmer’s market or grow them yourself.
Step 2: Wash and dry the papers and lay them on their side on a cutting board. With a sharp knife cut the peppers into rings, leaving the circle of the rings intact. The width of the pepper rings can vary, but the thinner you make them the easier it is to accidentally cut a ring in two. Somewhere between a quarter and a half inch wide.
Step 3: Tie one end of the string to a peg.
Step 4: String the rings along the string. Leave space between the rings according to how you think look best.
Step 5: Tie the other end of the string around the opposite peg pulling the string tight.
If You Have New Windows
If your window doesn’t have pegs, use two suction cups instead. Stick the suction cups on opposite sides of the window, one on the far right side and one on the far left side of the window. Follow the rest of the directions as is except substitute tying to the suction cups for the pegs.
How Do You Use Them?
Dried Peppers will last for a long time. If you get them completely dry they can last almost forever. It can be used in various recipes, normally they have to be rehydrated first. A benefit of using them is often recipes may call for a smaller amount than a whole pepper and this allows you to easily use part of the pepper without wasting or scrambling to use the rest.
Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+, LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.