Preserve Your Pepper Harvest
Our garden grows peppers like nobody’s business. Jim and I would have to eat about a pepper a day each all year long to keep up with our production. Last year we harvested bushels of bell peppers and froze 26 quart packages. Come July this year we still had 8 packages in the freezer as we started harvesting a new crop!
Although we have given away dozens, we still have too many to store in the chest freezer this year. Although I’m sure Grandma canned peppers, I haven’t ventured into that territory yet. There is a great alternative – roasting. Roasted peppers are tender and delicious. They cannot be beat on homemade pizza or in any Mexican or Italian dish. Roasted peppers are easily frozen and they take up far less room in your freezer than non-roasted peppers due to their loss of liquid and rigidity.
You can roast any kind of pepper. We plant anchos and bell peppers and roast both. I only roast those that have turned red, but I imagine you could roast green ones if you like.
The process of roasting them is not difficult, although after you have done it you may appreciate more why they are so expensive in the jars you find in the supermarket! Ready to get started?
1. Carefully clean your peppers. It is best to leave the stem on so they are easier to turn.
2. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. (you will regret it if you skip this step)
3. Place the whole peppers on your pan and bake at 450 F for about 25 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and turn each pepper over – this is easily done if you have left the stem on, otherwise you may have to use tongs.
5. Return the pan to the oven for about 20 more minutes. It’s OK if they turn black here and there.
6. Remove from oven and immediately put them in several piles on the counter. Cover each pile with a bowl. The steam from the peppers loosens the skin.
7. After about 20 minutes check to see if the peppers are cool enough to handle. If so, slip off the skins (they will stick in places, don’t worry about that) and pull out the seeds and membranes. I use running water to get all the seeds, but I know some people don’t recommend that. The only reason I do is sheer quantity – I roast about 30 peppers at once and find that running water provides a bit of a short-cut.
You can freeze them as is or use immediately. Enjoy!
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