Sunday, September 12, 2010

How to Freeze Bell Peppers

Its that time of year again!  When stores, fruit stands and gardens are overflowing with fresh local produce.  Its a great time to start canning, freezing and dehydrating the abundance of produce.  In our family, home food preservation is very important.  It means we have high quality produce through the winter that has been locally grown and is free of preservatives and heavy processing.  I love that I can give my family the best food possible. 

It also saves us money.  If I grow fresh produce or buy it in season and preserve it, I can save a small fortune over buying it in the winter.  Take red bell peppers, for instance.  I grew them in my garden, so they were almost free, but I also saw them on sale at a local grocer for 20 cents each.  If I freeze them and use them through the winter, I've still only paid 20 cents each.  If I buy them in January, I'll pay $1.50 each at least.  These days, I can't afford NOT to do a little home preservation.

Back to freezing peppers.  These are probably one of the simplest vegetables to freeze because they don't require blanching. (Blanching is the process of boiling the vegetables enough to stop the ripening process, but not to cook the food.)  Peppers are pretty much washing, cutting and freezing.  Here's how:

Pick young, high quality, fresh fruit.  Avoid any fruit that is over ripe or of poor quality.  Peppers should be firm and free from blemishes.  Wash them in cool water, cut off the tops and remove the seeds and membranes.

Next, chop the peppers into the desired size.  They can be diced, chopped into chunks, or cut into strips.  I like to freeze the strips to use in fajitas.

Once the peppers are cut up, I like to put them on a cookie sheet in a single layer and flash freeze them.  This prevents them from freezing together in a big chunk that will be hard to break up later.

Once they are frozen, use a spatula to break them apart and loosen them from the cookie sheet.

Finally, put the peppers into labeled freezer bags, squeeze out the air and freeze.  They will keep in a deep freeze for up to 14 months. 

When you are ready to use them just remove the amount needed and put the rest back in the freezer.  They can be used fresh, but they'll be better cooked.

Good luck to everyone and I hope you'll try your hand at this simple process!

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