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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bell Peppers

We live in an area where local produce is quite abundant and often priced well below the grocery store prices. This is an ideal way to get produce for preserving if you don't grow that particular fruit or vegetable or if your garden didn't produce enough. If you have been following this blog and my gardening blog you know that the focus this year continued to be ripping out in the gardens and starting new raised beds with no vegetable garden other than that planted in containers. Still container gardening is better than not growing any vegetables.

Bell Peppers

I knew I would have to buy bell peppers this year. We use a lot of sweet peppers in cooking so freeze them for use during the winter months. Pre-cut and ready to use the packets of frozen peppers are nice convenience ingredients to keep on hand. Oh sure I can get green peppers in the grocery store year round (and for fresh during the winter I'm force to) but home grown and locally grown are superiour in flavour and size!

My husband brought home 15 lovely, large bell peppers bought from the same farmer as the sweet corn. The price was a reasonable $5. As their name implies these peppers are sweet in the sense they do not have any heat to them. Sweet peppers are green but will ripen to yellow, orange, purple or red depending on the variety. Green bell peppers are unripe so are less sweet with a slight bitterness. When fully ripe they have a sweeter, mellow flavour.

A bell pepper is a bell pepper, or is it? Did you know that some bell peppers are better for eating raw while others are better for cooking even within the same variety? It's true! Look at the bottom end of the pepper and count the bumps. A pepper with three bumps is sweeter so is best used for eating raw. A pepper with four bumps is firmer and not quite as sweet. They are better for cooking.

Cutting

Use a sharp knife for this type of food prep. I cannot stress this enough! More accidents happen in the kitchen as a result of trying to cut with a dull knife than with a sharp one. A knife sharpener is an inexpensive yet essential piece of kitchen equipment. While on the topic of knives, your food prep knives should never be put in the dishwasher. They should be hand washed and dried after each use then placed on a magnetic rack or in a knife block to protect the blade. Keep them sharp and honed so they are ready to use.

Bell peppers are quite easy to prepare for freezing. Prepared this way they are suitable for cooking. I cut from the stem on one side around to the stem on the other side then cut around the stem and pop the pepper in half. After lifting the stem and core out, I cut away and of the pith and tap to get any remaining seeds out. With the pepper cut side up, I cut into strips then cut across the strips to form pieces. Then I gather the cut pepper into a pile and work the knife with a tip to heel motion without lifting the tip from the cutting board from one side of the pile and back. The pepper pieces are then ready for packaging into freezer bags.

Vacuum Sealing

As you know just about everything I freeze with the exception of bulk meat purchases that come wrapped in butcher's paper is vacuum sealed using a FoodSaver® (model V2480). Vacuum sealing is the number one method for preventing freezer burn. Eliminating freezer burn extends the freezer life of your foods as well as having to toss a food because it is freezer burnt.

I vacuum sealed the pepper pieces in pint size bags ending up with 6 bags. Two green bell peppers went into the fridge for an event we are hosting this weekend. Four partially ripened bell peppers were set aside to continue ripening for use on a vegetable tray for the event.

Ripening

Bell peppers that are entirely green will keep that way for several days in the crisper. If there is colour changes as pictured indicating ripening, set the peppers on the counter out of direct sunlight until they fully turn to the ripe colour depending on the variety. This should take a day or two. Once ripened put the peppers in the crisper to keep for a few more days if desired. To shorten the ripening time place a well ripened tomato, apple or banana by the peppers. The natural ethylene given off by the ripen fruit will help hasten the ripening of the unripe peppers.


8 food lovers commented:

Erica M said...

I tried to grow some bell peppers in my flower garden, but I don't think they got enough sunlight. :-( I've resorted to buying from the grocery and farmer's market.

I love the idea of freezing them, ready to use!

Thanks for buying an ad space on my blog! I'm excited to have your entrecard there today!

MarlyMS said...

I am amazed seeing a yellow bell pepper. Haven't seen those until now.

Dave said...

I agree with you 100% on the FoodSaver system. I've been using one for years and it's never let me down. I found 2 steaks in my freezer from 6 months back and took a chance cooking them and they were still delicious. Well worth the money!
Thanks for the tips.
Dave

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Ailecgee! The peppers were indeed a delight :) I'll add you links to by blogroll.

Garden Gnome said...

Erica, having chopped peppers in the freezer is just so convenient!

Your welcome and thanks for accepting my ad.

Garden Gnome said...

Marlyms, there are also orange and purple peppers as well as red and yellow. They make a pretty presentation for vegetable trays and wraps.

Garden Gnome said...

You're welcome Dave :) The FoodSaver® is a must for saving money when it comes to food.

Garden Gnome said...

Elizabeth, there are all kinds of little tidbits of information about food. The bumps on peppers is a good indicator of their sweetness.