Monday, September 10, 2012

What to do when you have too many peppers!

Beautiful, aren't they?
I haven't been to the farm where our CSA grows peppers, but the place has got to be totally overrun with them right now (late August/early September), because every week we get another bag full of them. They are delicious, don't get me wrong, but in going through my fridge the other day I realized that I still had some from 3 weeks ago! I started thinking about what delicious things I could do with the peppers before they got too old (besides chopping them up and topping my salad with them) and I realized that in a few months, when peppers aren't so plentiful and they become pricey at the store, it would be fabulous to have a bunch ready-to-go in the freezer.

Some info and health benefits of bell peppers: (source: World's Healthiest Foods)
- Low in capsaicin, which is what makes other peppers spicy, resulting in a mild taste.
- Paprika is made from bell peppers (I didn't know this!), and will be whatever color the pepper is.
- Member of the nightshade family (others include tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant). If you have arthritis or joint pain, don't eat these as the alkaloids could be a contributing factor.
- Vitamin C and Carotenoid concentration is higher in ripe peppers.
- Twice the Vitamin C as an orange!
- Good source of Vitamin E.
- Lots of Phytonutrients: Flavonoids (luteolin, quercitin, hesperidan), Carotenoids (alpha/beta-carotene, cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin), Hydroxycinnamic Acids (ferulic and cinnamic acid).

I had bell peppers, but I believe this would work with any type. The one thing to keep in mind is that peppers that have been frozen usually get a bit mushy when you defrost them, so while they work great in cooked recipes out of the freezer (think scrambled eggs, soups, etc.), they won't be so great raw.

Here's how I got my peppers freezer ready: 

1. Rinse peppers and pat dry.

2. Cut peppers in half, use your fingers to peel out the seeds and the green tops.

Step 2
 3. Cut the peppers into your desired form. I chopped, but you can do slices (think: fajitas) or even dice them if you want. It's up to you!

4. Put peppers onto a baking sheet and put them in the freezer until frozen. Ideally you would do a single layer, but I didn't have room in my freezer.

Step 4
 5. Once the peppers have frozen, put them into labeled freezer-proof glass jars or plastic baggies. I do my best to avoid using plastic, but all my jars were in use today.

Step 5

6. Put the peppers in your freezer, and use them as needed. In a few months, you'll be glad you thought ahead!

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