Every year I fall victim to over-planting something. This year the crop of the year is chilies! Jalapenos and Serranos abound in their red and green glory. Part of the problem is that they look so beautiful hanging from their plants that I can’t resist! The other problem is I suffer from memory loss in the Spring when I go to the nursery and see those tiny little plants barely an inch or two in height. They just don’t look like they will grow to be the foot high and ever producing crop that they are. In addition, they often come in a four pack. What’s a girl to do?
After many batches of salsa and dinners of fajitas, I am faced with how to best use and preserve what remains. I love the roasted peppers available in jars so I decided that was the way to go for my own harvest. I should add this method works for all types of peppers. So if you grow bell, banana, Italian or Anaheim this is a method that works perfectly. Let me also add I usually leave my peppers on the plant until they ripen further and turn from green to red. The red peppers tend to be sweeter and for my palate have generally more flavor than their green brothers and sisters. This will vary depending on the variety so use your own judgement and tastes to determine your plan of action.
I used the grill for roasting but this can also be done under the broiler. Either way, keep a close eye on them, turning often, so they char but don’t completely burn up. Another tip I might pass on is wearing gloves. I tend to dislike using gloves for almost any task but after handling and peeling this many chilies, my hands were on fire the remainder of the day and through the night even though I washed them often and thoroughly. I even tried dipping them in milk but that offered little relief. This is probably not so crucial if you are working with sweet peppers as opposed to hot.
Here’s the process I used:
- Preheat the grill or broiler to high heat.
- Place peppers directly on the grill or on a broiler pan or baking sheet (if using broiler).
- Watch carefully, turning occasionally until skins are bubbled and charred on all sides.
- Remove and place in a bowl. Cover and allow to steam until they are cool enough to handle and skins are easily removed.
- Peel each pepper. At this point you can leave the stem and pepper intact with the seeds if you wish but I stemmed, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and scraped out the seeds.
- Place in a jar and cover with extra virgin olive oil. I refrigerate this for more immediate use, or….
- Place on a baking sheet and freeze (approximately 1 hour).
- Remove and place in a small container or freezer bag. Store in the freezer for future applications.
Roasted peppers can be used in many dishes including but not limited to sauces, soups, eggs, casseroles, pastas, sandwiches, tacos or as creatively as your personality and taste buds allows. My husband used them this morning with eggs in a breakfast burrito, one of his specialties. Delicious! They will keep for up to six months in the freezer and up to 2 weeks in oil, covered and refrigerated.
If you enjoy peppers but don’t garden, visit your farmers market. Right now they are plentiful, at their peak of flavor and inexpensive. Their gorgeous colors of green, red, yellow, orange and purple provide a visual that is hard to duplicate. Even if you don’t eat them, it is worth taking a look as it is nature’s gift of Fall art, right up there with the foliage, and not to be missed.
Hope you enjoy the smokey goodness of roasted peppers all Winter. They warm you up and brighten almost any dish. How do you use them?