Preserving the Bounty: Peppers

| 9/25/2011 2:59:07 PM

Peppers in a Basket

This year I planted a whole passel of peppers: bell peppers that can be harvested as green peppers or allowed to ripen and become red, yellow or orange bell peppers, jalapeno peppers that can be harvested green as standard jalapenos or allowed to ripen to bright red and become hot chilies, cayenne peppers, hot banana peppers, sweet banana peppers, and chocolate bell peppers.  But, we can eat only so many peppers as they come in from the garden; especially the hot peppers – a little of those goes a long way!  So I needed to find ways to preserve the excess for use later in the year.  Here’s what I came up with.

Peppers Freezing 4NOTE: When working with hot peppers, wear rubber gloves and be careful not to touch your eyes, mouth or other sensitive parts of your body.  The capsaicin in the peppers that gives them their hot flavor is an oily substance that does not wash off your hands and will cause serious discomfort if rubbed into a sensitive area.  Even regular skin like your arm or leg can become irritated if you scratch an itch while working with hot peppers.  Take care in cleaning up your counters and utensils because the oil can transfer from one item to another or back onto your hands.

When washing your peppers for processing and storage, using a bath of 3 parts water and 1 part white vinegar to soak peppers (or most any vegetable for that matter) for ten minutes will kill 98% of the bacteria on them.  Rinse with tap water before processing.  This will also extend the time fresh vegetables can be stored in the fridge before they begin getting that slimy feel as a result of bacteria growing on them.

Red vs Green Jalapenos

According to The Peppermaster, (and many others who I checked with) green jalapenos do indeed turn red when left on the plant long enough (this came as quite a shock to me when mine did this).  Normally the jalapenos are picked while green, smooth and waxy in appearance for appearances sake.  But if you want heat… let them mature.  When the brown striations appear heat is building.  When they mature into red chilies they take on the most heat.  I think they also develop a sweeter taste.  The Peppermaster says the red jalapenos are also higher in Vitamin C than the green peppers.

Freezing Peppers

Peppers are really easy to freeze because you don’t need to bother with blanching or pealing them first, just cut the peppers up into manageable pieces, remove the webbing and seeds, lay them on a cookie sheet, and place in the freezer.  When they are frozen, quickly transfer to a zippered freezer bag, squeeze out as much air as you can and pop them back into the freezer.  To prevent freezer burn even more, using a vacuum packing machine to remove all the air greatly extends the life of the frozen peppers.

Allan Douglas
10/1/2011 3:38:51 PM

LOL, Don't you just love it when they "improve" a system and things start to fall apart? I'll try your workaround. Thanks.

Nebraska Dave
10/1/2011 9:32:50 AM

Allan, the carriage return/line break quit working some months ago when the site was improved .... upgraded. I write my comments in an email message then copy and paste it into the comments section. It seems to retain the carriage return/line break when done that way. Perhaps it will get fixed in a future site improvement. :0)

Allan Douglas
9/27/2011 4:09:33 PM

Hey Dave, I do indeed love peppers. But I've got enough hot peppers tucked away to last for years - the frozen/vacuum packed ones should last that long too. Next year I plan to grow just the sweet peppers and what we don't eat I'll take to the Farmer's Market and sell. If not enough for that I can take them to my wife's workplace and sell. They buy anything. Fellas are always pulling in and opening up their trunk to sell shoes, handbags, jewelry, home accessories, books, even computer accessories. Some of those ladies (not all but some) cook and appreciate fresh produce. I've been supplying them with fresh basil this year and they've been eating it up! (grin) (hmmm... it won't let me do a carriage return/line break) Thanks so much for visiting Dave!

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