The peppers are probably my favorite part of the end of garden harvest. They smell and taste so wonderful. Here is how to preserve peppers.
Why Grow Peppers?
In Accidental Family Caregiver, we shared that one reason for our love of gardening is giving our family good food. Peppers of all varieties are nutritional powerhouses! Here is a breakdown of the nutrients that can be found in one red bell pepper.
Harvesting All Sorts of Peppers
We harvest peppers all season long to use fresh for whatever we are cooking. Peppers are also harvested as they turn red. In Montana, we have an end to our growing season when everything in the annual garden must be harvested or lost to frost and snow.
At that time, we pick all the peppers on each plant whether they are green or red…or yellow or orange or purple. Here is how we preserve loads of peppers.
How to Preserve Bell Peppers
Once they are picked, bell peppers mostly stay the color they are when they are picked. Sometimes peppers ripen to red or orange if they sit on the counter for a day or so. Usually we don’t wait for the to turn color. Cut each one in half, take the seeds out and the stem off. The halves can then be put in freezer bags until needed. When thawed, the peppers will be wilted but that is what happens when they are cooked so they work in cooked dishes.
Anaheim peppers are the ones that are found in the Mexican food aisle of the grocery store, sometimes in cans labeled “green chilies” sometimes whole and dried in plastic bags. They are what makes the delightful green enchilada sauce that is not too hot but tastes like roasted peppers. We love them as Chili Relleno. Mmmmmm. Yep that’s the pepper.
Grilling makes the skin peel off quickly and easily. If not eaten immediately, we lay them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze them. After they are frozen, we pack them in gallon ziploc bags and back into the freezer they go until we need them.
Whenever I need green chilies for something, like bean soup, I just take as many Anaheims as I need out of the freezer, thaw them, peel, seed and chop them just on the cutting board.
Green Anaheims, frozen or fresh make green enchilada sauce, here’s how:
Green Enchilada Sauce
- blender or food processer
- large skillet
- wire sieve
- 3 Anaheim peppers grilled, peeled, and seeded
- 2 teaspoons oregano dried
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1 Tablespoon Chicken base
- 4 cups water
- Cut the peppers into large pieces. Put the peppers and 2 cups of the water into a blender or food processor. Blend until the peppers are pureed.
- Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the flour and the chicken base and whisk until the flour begins to brown. Pour the contents of the blender through a wire mesh sieve into the pan and whisk constantly until thick.
- Pour the remaining 2 cups of water through the sieve into the pan. Continue whisking and add the oregano. After a few minutes the mixture will thicken to a thin gravy. Add salt to taste.
- The sauce can be used immediately or refrigerated for up to a week.
How to Preserve Jalapeno Peppers
The Jalapenos are simply cleaned and frozen whole. I mostly use them in our Jalapeno truffles unless I use them fresh. Jalapenos can also be dried by smoking and ground as we have done here.
Sometimes, we create chili ristras by stringing together peppers like Anaheims or Cayennes and hang them in the kitchen window to dry. They don’t look anything like the real ristras that we admire but they perform the same function. Then, when a recipe calls for cayenne, we just pull off a couple and grind them in an electric spice/coffee grinder.
Mmmmm. Pimentos. They are the pepper in stuffed green olives, are fantastic in cheese spread, and they are THE reason to make Chicken a la King. So, we roast them, wrap them in wet towels, peel and seed.
To preserve them, pimentos can be canned or frozen. Follow the instructions that came with your canner. Want to learn more about canning? See our blog post What equipment is needed for canning.
Let us know how your end-of-garden experiences are going. We would love to hear from you.