11/2/08

Freezing Peppers: I Skip the Blanching Step

Often I find myself doing something normal or typical for me or our household and it never occurs to me that others might not know or don't do it.

That's what happened this morning so here I am, ready to share.

A couple weeks ago we had some cold weather move into our area. My garden was still trying to produce vegetables for us now that the aphids had left and the pepper plants finally had a fighting chance! Outside, I picked all the peppers I could and brought them in the house before the freeze took them, but unfortunately 'life' got in the way and I never got around to doing anything with them. This morning I finally did.

I rinsed, cleaned and seeded them, chopped them and placed them directly into a Ziploc baggy and tossed them into the freezer.

Does anyone notice the step I 'skipped'?

Blanching!

It's true. I never blanch my peppers.

Once upon a time I did. But a garden overrun with jalapeno's one year I simply cleaned them and put them all into a large gallon freezer bag and froze them. Later I found they were perfect for chopping and using in everything from marinades and dips to casseroles and more. And I *always* had jalapeno's on hand! Later I used the same idea for green peppers and again, what a blessing to always have green peppers on hand for last minute nacho dips, chili, casseroles, mexican cooking and more!

The only thing I hesitated on was red peppers. I primarily use those for 'fresh' foods like pasta salads and such. Things that aren't cooked and need a pleasing texture. However, after starting to buy my red peppers on sale at Costco to get in essence, 3-4 'free' when compared to the price of the same at the grocery store, I needed to use them up before they got too old. With nothing to lose, I chopped them and froze them as a test. When used in the next Italian pasta salad I was happily surprised with the texture and taste. I've never looked back!

Now, whenever I find peppers on sale of any color (red, yellow, green, orange) I purchase what fits in my budget for the day and while I save one to use that week, I rinse, clean and chop the rest and pop them into a Ziploc. What a great feeling to consistently have peppers on hand for any last minute recipe!
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