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Ask The Editors: How To Salvage Bell Peppers

11/02/2011 10:54 am ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012

Every Friday, we select a question from our Facebook fans and answer it in this weekly column. This week, we provide some ideas for using up bell peppers.

Facebook fan Eileen Enke: I have way too many bell peppers that are past their prime. Is there anything I can do besides roasting or using them fresh? Can they be frozen, put in oil, or something similar for use later in the year?

Freezing and canning are both great ideas for putting away peppers for use later in the year. We love putting away a bounty of summer fruits and vegetables for fall and winter. That beautiful produce is just too pretty to let go to waste.

Freezing

Freezing is the simplest preparation for storing peppers. We prefer freezing because the recipe possibilities are much more open. Start by coring and seeding the peppers. You can leave the peppers whole, cut them into strips or chop them into chunks. (Choose the method that will be the best for how you intend to use the peppers.) Add them to a sealable freezer bag, remove as much air as possible, and freeze. (You might want to use a vacuum sealer for best results.) Make sure to date the bag and freeze for no more 6 months. You can use frozen peppers in a number of recipes, but, please, do not serve them raw. For recipes that require sauteing, you'll want to defrost the peppers first, pat them dry, and then add them to the saute pan. But for soups, stews or casseroles, you can add the peppers right from the freezer bag.

Canning

For canning peppers, you'll want to put them in a brine, which helps preserve them. The brine can include oil. You can make a jar of marinated red bell peppers just as you would buy in the supermarket. This would require blistering the peppers first to remove their skins. But you could also preserve the peppers fresh, which will keep their texture firm and almost crunchy, like pickles. To do this, core and seed the peppers and cut them into wedges and stuff them into a canning jar. Pour over with a hot brine (a 1:1 ratio of water to vinegar or all vinegar), which has been flavored with spices and seasoned with sugar and/or salt. Make sure to leave a little headspace before tightening on a lid. Process the jars in a hot water bath to seal them. Keep the jarred peppers on your pantry shelf for no more than 3 months. You can enjoy canned peppers as a side dish, as a topping for sandwiches, or pureed into a dip.

Try these methods and let us know of the outcome. Enjoy!

Related Video

Watch the video below to learn how to process canning jars using the hot water bath method.

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