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Bell pepper season has officially started, and I am pretty excited about it. It’s hard to think of another vegetable I like this much that’s also so versatile (tomatoes might be a close second!). We enjoy eating bell peppers in so many dishes from fajitas to gumbo to grilled panini sandwiches to pizza (as a topping) and even as raw slices dipped in some hummus or homemade ranch. Plus my other favorite thing about bell peppers is that the season feels fairly long compared to other fresh produce. I don’t know about you but I feel like strawberries, peaches, and raspberries are here and gone in a flash. So if you’re one to procrastinate you’ve still got a little time left to stock up and preserve fresh bell peppers before the season ends.
According to Joy of Cooking, “Roasting provides the best way to remove the skin of peppers. In addition, it softens their flesh, tempers the raw taste, and adds a delicious smokiness.” Our farmers’ market actually has free pepper roasting available in the late summer months, which I loved taking advantage of last year. But in case you don’t have that luxury below are the simple steps to roasting bell peppers at home.
How to Preserve Bell Peppers for the Winter:
- Roast and then Freeze. My all time favorite method is to seed the peppers, slice them, roast them, and then freeze them. There are dozens of uses for these frozen slices of summer (including the dishes mentioned above). And the best part is you don’t have to plan ahead if you suddenly want a roasted bell pepper on your grilled panini sandwich. All it takes is a quick rinse under lukewarm water and the bell pepper will (mostly) come back to life.
- Canning Recipes. I am a newbie to canning, but I recently made the pictured green tomato relish that called for red bell peppers and the outcome was the bomb (in a good way). The relish tastes like the best salsa you’ve ever had and if you take the time to can the end result it will last up to a year. You could freeze the cooked relish as well. There are also some simpler recipes out there for just canning slices of plain bell peppers.
- Freezing in Prepared Dishes. It’s hard to beat dinner that’s previously been made using fresh ingredients and then stocked away in your freezer. So rather than freezing the peppers by themselves consider incorporating them into soups like chili, gumbo, or tortilla soup or main dishes like fajitas, stuffing, or quesadillas, and then freeze the end result. You’ll thank yourself later when the only thing between you and a delicious wholesome dinner is defrosting and reheating!
Please share your favorite ways to use and preserve bell peppers in the comments below.