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.
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