I too, have a bounty of hot, sweet and mild ones, far more than I can quickly use or give away, which set me out to find a few paths to preserve this precious produce in ways that will afford me lengthy opportunities to taste them all winter long!
Roasting’s Easier Than You Think
One way that I have found to preserve a pepper’s potent flavor is to roast it before storing. This added step is one well worth taking because it adds a robust, smoky flavor simply by having a little time near a flame, whether under your broiler or out on your grill!
Roasted peppers freeze and defrost surprisingly well, especially when frozen in single layers individually, and once frozen, peppers can be stacked in layers or stored in freezer bags, which help save space.
Roasted peppers also do well when stored in a high quality olive oil. To do so, simply slip your smoky peppers into a jar, cover with oil and place in the refrigerator. The oil can be left on for a silky texture or rinsed off the pepper before using.
Balsamic vinegar is an option too. However, peppers will pick up its flavor so do keep that in mind.
If you don’t care for the smoky flavor of a roasted pepper, you can also simply freeze them fresh from the vine, which is a great way to handle those hot peppers, especially since they are much easier to work with when frozen and rock hard.
To freeze fresh peppers, simply place your peppers on a wax paper-lined rimmed pan and place in the freezer until peppers freeze. Yes, that’s right. No need for blanching. Simply place in freezer – that’s it!
Once frozen, peppers can be moved into freezer bags or containers, removing as much air as possible, before returning to freezer.
Do keep in mind that frozen peppers will lose crunch value, so be sure to plan for that when using in recipes.
My favorite, festive way to preserve tiny, thin-skinned red chilies is to string them together using fish line that I sneak from my husband’s rod & reel – oh yes, that is what I said! Then I hang the colorful strand in my kitchen where we all get to enjoy its beauty while being fed.
There are indeed so many wonderful ways to preserve a pepper, but there are just as many ways to enjoy it fresh. Here now is an easy-pleasing way to throw your own pepper palooza, too, with this Smoky Pepper Sandwich!