design-inspired urban farming

An Overabundance of Chili Peppers? Make ’em last, make frozen chili pepper mix!

While I will never complain about having too much of anything in the garden, this season, as our summer season is winding down, our peppers are in overdrive.  We have poblanos, jalepeños and banana peppers coming out of our ears.  Our suggestion? Whip them up in your food processor and then freeze them for later use as needed.

We often get overwhelmed by overflow in the garden and we love to have crop swaps, especially during your first harvest of the season, when everything is big and beautiful and ready for sharing. However, when you have too much at the end of the season, it’s usually a bunch of odds and ends, perhaps not worthy of a crop swap. As some plants that are done for the season are taken out of your garden, another remaining plant may go into overdrive and start producing like mad as it compensates for the plant you’ve just removed.  And what was once your sweet and shy little pepper bush is now packed with peppers and begging to be picked! Peter would be so proud! And really, how many peppers can one family eat? And believe me, my family is Thai…we eat a lot of peppers, but let’s not be ridiculous.

We’ll walk you through a great way to extend the life of your peppers if you don’t want to can or pickle them.  And while pickling is an awesome what to preserve peppers, sometimes it’s also nice to have the option to extend the fresh heat and taste of your peppers by storing them in the freezer.

Begin by selecting the peppers you wish to add to your mix.  We chose a mix of jalapeños and poblanos.  If you like a little less heat, you can remove the seeds and spines, which contain the greatest concentration of capsaicin — the active component in chilis that create heat or burn in your mouth. Please also remember that when handling chilis to wash your hands very well after. Don’t touch your eyes/mouth or wear gloves.  I’ve made the mistake so many times of touching my face or eyes.  BIG MISTAKE. You can also temper the heat by mixing in sweet peppers like bell peppers.  Tomatoes are a nice companion to chili peppers as well.  We also whip up Thai chilis this way and add garlic and oil to make that yummy chili paste you find at Thai or Chinese restaurants.

Trim the stems off and remove the seeds and inner spines as desired.  Place peppers in the bowl of the food processor. Begin pulsing several times, then turn the blade on full speed until you’ve reached the desired consistency.  Stop the food processor just when the peppers look like coffetti, but still maintain their color.  Then add some extra virgin olive oil and whip them up once more for a few seconds.  We had about 2 -3 cups of peppers and added 3 tablespoons of oil.  You can just eyeball it.  A little more or a little less oil isn’t going to hurt anything.  The oil will act as a binder and will make it easier to handle the pepper mix once it’s frozen.

Next spoon the pepper mix into a zip top plastic 1-quart freezer bag.  To make things easier, you can use a tall glass to hold your bag, fold the opening over the mouth of the glass, then spoon your mixture into the baggie. Once your mix is in the bag, lay it flat on a countertop and press the air out of the bag so the mixture is flat and all the air is squeezed out.  This will make storage in the freezer easy.

Next label your mix and date it on the outside of the bag with a felt tip marker.  Then lay flat in the freezer to freeze completely. The mix will keep in the freezer for 2-3 months.  We like to take it out and break off chunks as needed for use in soups, dips, or any dish you need a little heat.

This method also works well for pesto and crushed garlic too!  Give it a try and let us know how you do!

Sow, what do you think?

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This entry was posted on September 13, 2012 by in Cooking, Food Preservation, Organic Gardening and tagged , , .
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