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.

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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

Easy Wild Yeast Pizza and Artisian Bread Recipe

Wild Yeast Pizzas - Funktified Food

 

Dear blog… I kind of got busy with life and have neglected you.  My daughter is taking a nap so I going to attempt to actually type up a real blog post!  (I do mini-blog with photos a couple times a week at: http://www.facebook.com/FunktifiedFood)

Long story short… I bake pizzas and breads once a week and have been using wild yeast starters exclusively since Autumn of 2011 to make all my pizzas.  My main starters have yeast strains ‘harvested’ from organic and wild grapes that I made using the directions in this blog written by John Gutekanst aka ‘The Pizza Goon’: http://pizzagoon.com/tag/activating-wild-yeast  

I have been working on pizza (and artisan bread) dough recipes for years and trying lots of ingredients and techniques.  I have lots of methods that work well but I have realized that not everyone is as crazy as I am and most people want a recipe easily quantified and that require less steps than some of my methods.  I have been sharing my starter with friends lately and wanted an easier recipe to give them. I basically start with the ’1:1 flour to starter ratio’ and technique from Pizza Goon Blog with some of my favorite flours and added a little bit of honey and/or malted barley syrup. It works great.

Pizza Dough RECIPE:

First, I leave my starter out for a few hours before using it.  (I typically take out as much as I need from the starter, leaving a about 1/4 of the starter typically, replace the amount that I took out [2:1 Flour:Water Ratio], leaving it out for a few hours and putting it in the refrigerator until next week.)

In a bowl:
2 cups wild yeast starter (2:1 Flour:Water Ratio)
~1 tsp. honey (optional)
~1 tsp. malted barley syrup (optional)
—STIR

2 cups flour (I use 1 cup high gluten, 3/4 cup spelt, 1/4 cup rye)
—STIR/Mix with hands–

When it is almost mixed add:
Dash of sea salt (~1/2 tsp)
Splash of olive oil (~tsp)
—Knead for a couple minutes.  Let dough rest for 10-15 minutes.  Portion off into balls, roll them in  your hand until the outer surface is sealed, put in a container, cover with an oiled plastic wrap and put in refrigerator.

If you need a visual for the dough: There is a good video/blog using the same method of making dough HERE.

The slow rise in the fridge will develop flavor and it also does other somewhat magical things to the dough.  It will work after a day or two in the fridge but I like it best on days 3, 4, and 5.  If you have time, leave the dough out for 30-60 minutes to proof at room temp before you use it (or longer if you are using bigger balls of dough for breads, large loaves will take a few hours to come to room temp). If you don’t have time to leave it out, it will work fairly decently right out of fridge.  I dust the dough and my board with a 50/50 mix of semolina and high gluten or spelt flour before rolling out.

I bake thin crust pizzas for 6-8 minutes on a preheated stone at 550.  For thicker pizzas, focaccia or cheese bread, I often use cast iron pans for about 12-20 minutes at about 400.  I also have used this dough recipe for baguettes and bake for about 15-18 minutes on a baguette pan at 490.  If you can’t tell when your pizzas or breads are done… Pizzas are done when the cheese is melted and bottom of crust is lightly browned.  Breads are done when the internal temperature is at around 200.

Funktified Food Wild Yeast - Italian Meat Pizza

Funktified Food Wild Yeast Pizza - Italian Meat

Funktified Food Wild Yeast Pizza - Tomato Basil

Funktified Food Wild Yeast Pizza - Tomato Basil

 

Funktified Food Wild Yeast Pizza - Prosciutto, Arugula, Olives, Roasted Peppers

Funktified Food Wild Yeast Pizza - Prosciutto, Arugula, Olives, Roasted Peppers

 

Funktified Food Wild Yeast Baguettes

Funktified Food Wild Yeast Baguettes

Funktified Food Wild Yeast Calzone

Funktified Food Wild Yeast Calzone

 

Funktified Food - Wild Yeast Focaccia - Herb-Garlic-Sea Salt

Funktified Food - Wild Yeast Focaccia - Herb-Garlic-Sea Salt

 

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