Food Preservation Week Post #1: Sweet Peppers, Dried and Roasted

September 19, 2011 · 1 comment

My mom's hands coring sweet peppers.

Sweet peppers might be my all-time favorite vegetables. Maybe. I’m generally a big vegetable eater, and there are only a few that I’ll turn down, but I’ll eat any kind of sweet pepper anytime, anywhere. In my humble opinion, red ruffled pimentos and lipsticks have the best raw flavor, but I’ll take whatever I can get.

I stopped by my old stomping grounds at Gathering Together Farm the other day, and Sally, the owner and my former boss, told me they had a ton of #2 peppers that they wouldn’t be able to sell. They were mostly oddly shaped, slightly shriveled, or minorly defective fruits. Sally tried to make me take home 12 big boxes. I put three boxes in my car, thanked her profusely, and went on my way. Free peppers are just one of the perks of dedicating five years of my young adulthood to working my tail off at an awesome vegetable farm.

I ended up with two boxes of fairly thin-walled orange bells and one box of meaty red bells. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them.

For dried pepper chips, core and seed peppers and rip them into chunks approximately 1″ x 2″. Thinner walled peppers like Italian sweets or orange bells work best for drying.

Packed them as densely as possible in a food dehydrator. (One big box of peppers filled up 16 food drier trays.)

After about 48 hours in the drier, you’ll have deliciously crispy sweet pepper chips. I can eat these things by the handful. They have concentrated pepper flavor with sweetness more like dried fruit. I prefer mine extra crispy as opposed to chewy, but if you’d rather gnaw on them, don’t dry them quite so long. One box of peppers yields about a gallon and a half of pepper chips. I probably wouldn’t do this if I had to buy my peppers for several dollars a pound, but if you have an excess, you have to try these.

The red peppers were destined for roasting. This method also brings out the sweetness in the fruits. Roasted peppers are great in all sorts of appetizers, on pizza, or in savory egg dishes.

Rinse and core the peppers…

…and load them onto a hot grill.

Let them get good and blackened (or at least let the skin bubble up) on all surfaces. This will make them easier to peel. I always err on the side of overdone.

Other roasted pepper recipes will tell you to put the steaming peppers into a plastic bag to make them sweat. I’m kind of a conspiracy theorist about having too much plastic in our lives and near our hot food, so I just put them in a big bowl with a plate on top to keep the moisture in.

After they’re done roasting, strip off the charred skin. It helps to have running water close by to rinse messy hands and facilitate the removal of little blackened bits. I never worry too much about getting every last morsel of skin off.

After they cooled, these slimy strips got packed into ziplock bags and thrown into the freezer. One big box yielded about a gallon of roasted peppers.

I’m declaring this week Food Preservation Week on the blog because that’s what’s been taking over my life recently. We’ll see how many topics I can cover in the coming days. I hope you learn something new or can get a little inspiration to try a fun recipe. All these techniques are not terribly difficult they just take time, some more than others. Enjoy!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Laura September 19, 2011 at 11:25 am

hmmm, pepper chips (and ranch dressing). I think I might have a new snack. They look delicious. This story reminds me of the time my father sent my husband and I home with a van FULL of tomatoes he couldn’t use, as he had soooo many. the problem, you say? We had to drive from Ct. to Florida to get home! Of course every one was so ripe when we got home we had to “do something!” asap. We had salsa coming out of our ears! And a funny story to tell for years.

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