How to Flash Freeze and Fire-roast Peppers and Chiles

September in Michigan is the month when one day could be 85 degrees and the next might be 30… Well, perhaps that describes nearly every month in Michigan but in September and October it is more relevant to people with gardens or anyone that loves fresh locally grown produce because we are watching the weather and hoping that it does frost.  Often times right around the time of the first hard frost… everyone has an abundant of tomatoes, peppers and chiles. Most folks have a bunch of ways to preserve to preserve tomatoes but what to do with the peppers and chiles??  I have a couple really easy ways to preserve peppers for the winter months assuming you have a little freezer space.

In the winter in Michigan, colored bell peppers usually cost $1.50 each and up!  During the season, I can get them for 3/$1 at the farmer’s market or “free” from a garden.  The local ones arguably have better flavor also.  A couple years ago I learned an easy way to flash freeze peppers.  If you freeze enough, all winter you’ll have peppers that are pre-chopped, don’t stick together and are ready to go from the freezer straight into a pan to saute.

How to FLASH FREEZE PEPPERS:

Step ONE: Wash, core and chop, julienne or dice bell peppers.

Step TWO:  Toss them in a bowl with a splash of vegetable or olive oil.  Just enough to very lightly coat the peppers… perhaps a 1/4-1/2 tsp per pepper.  Some people skip the oil all together but I find it helps the peppers freeze separately and not stick together.

Step THREE:  Get a baking sheet (a standard size fits in a normal freezer) and line with non-stick foil. Lay the peppers out in a single layer on the pan.

 

 

Step FOUR:  Put the uncovered pan in the freezer until the peppers are frozen solid.  You may want to stir the peppers a couple times to make sure that none of them stick together.  To be fair, a regular household freezer doesn’t quick freeze them in a “flash” but can take an hour or so to freeze solid.  You can probably get away with a less time if you are in a hurry or leave them in a little longer if you want them to be frozen all the way through.

 

 

 

Step FIVE:  Place the frozen peppers in an airtight container, label them and put them in the freezer. (I usually store them in a freezer bag and use a trick that my mom taught me to remove the majority of the air inside the bag.  Zip the bag shut except for a small portion on the edge of the bag and using a small cocktail straw, suck the air out of the bag and in one motion, remove the straw and zip the bag… or of course if you a have a vacuum sealing machine, that would work too. ;)

 

 

I’ve used this same method with all sorts of peppers, diced or whole chiles, par-cooked morel mushrooms, etc.  The flash freezing technique is actually good for any time you are freezing ingredients, meals or dishes that you don’t want to stick to anything or to fall apart.

————————–
FIRE ROASTING:

The other method that use is fire-roasting.  This works well for New Mexican or Anaheim green chiles, bell peppers, thick skinned jalapenos, etc.  I process a couple bushels of green chiles every season to freeze and often to some roasted bell peppers packed in oil too.

 

Here is my how-video for all sorts of fire-roasting.  (I also use this method to roast and peal tomatoes when I am processing them to preserve.)


Wow! Two blogs in two weeks.  I am on a roll.  Happy Preserving and Freezing! ;)

- dan, Funktified Food

Make it a Bar! Chili & Guacamole (at your Superbowl party.)

People like Superbowl parties for one to three reasons.   1. Football.  2.  Friends  3.  Food …Or a possible fourth reason… laughing at the commercials with your friends, while eating food and talking about football.   The Superbowl is coming and food and friends are two things that I enjoy… so let us speak of food!

Do you know what I love?  Options.  Choices.  Customizable food.  Why?  Because it is fun.  At my wedding reception, I had a potato bar… During one part of the night… you could go and get mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes and proceed to the add various toppings of your choice…  it made potatoes into an event.  Most people don’t get overly excited about potatoes, but people DO get excited about a potato bar. (After typing “potatoes” so many times… I realized that I have two things in common with Dan Quayle… my first name and well… thank you spell-check for reminding me there is an ‘e’ in potatoes.  Oops.)

GUACAMOLE.  Last month, I was reading Rick Bayless‘s book called ‘Fiesta at Rick’s’ and he talks about a guacamole bar.  GENIUS!  A simple roasted garlic guacamole with lots of toppings! I get pretty excited about good guacamole but I get REALLY excited about customizable guacamole!  Apparently, 8 million pounds of guacamole is consumed on Super Bowl Sunday… so why don’t you try a guacamole BAR!  I set up a little guacamole bar at Christmas time and made a fair amount of guacamole and it didn’t last long so buy extra avocados.

CHILI. You know what else I love?  Chili.  All types of chili.  Texas-style, Cincinnati-style, NM Chili verde, chicken chili, vegetarian chili, sausage chili… I like it all.   (I also love chile peppers… but that is for another blog.)  I made a couple types of chili for my friends last week and set up a little station for toppings and thought… oh my!  Chili bar is the best idea ever.  ha.

MAKE IT A BAR. This year at your Superbowl party (or any other time)… if are making chili, guacamole… or even mashed potatoes… I suggest giving people some options and make it a BAR!  You’ll thank me later.  Not only is is FUN but it also let’s the picky people be choosy and the indulgent people be indulgent(y).  You know who you are.

VESSELS for serving:  For chili… the obvious answer is… bowls.  Small bowls are actually the best to encourage people to try a few variations and/or multiple types of chili.  For guacamole… the obvious answer is chips BUT a more exciting option would be toasted baguette slices, pita chips, large carrots sliced in rounds, cucumbers, etc… you get the picture.  Mashed potatoes… try plastic martini glasses… because… it is just fun and easy to carry around.

 TOPPINGS:  The options are endless but here are a few ideas: Diced tomatoes, chopped red onions, green onions, raw or fire-roasted peppers/chiles, cilantro, toasted hulled pumpkin seeds, various cheeses from cheddar to bleu to queso fresco, crumbled crisp bacon, lime wedges, sour cream…  you get the idea…

Hot and Cold: Keep the hot items hot and the cold items cold.  A crock pot is the easy answer for most hot food.  The obvious answer for cold items… ummm… ice.  A fun tip that I learned from Rick Bayless is to get a  terracotta pot that is slightly larger than your serving bowl and chill the pot and then stick your serving bowl in the pot, this will help keep cold foods cold and help slow the process of your guacamole turning brown.

Green and Red Chili Bar with Toppings

HELPFUL LINKS: