As I take a tiny coffee break and sit and type this blog entry my fingers and hands smell like green peppers. Fresh green peppers that I rescued from our garden over a week ago right before a major frost set in, but never had time to do anything with until this weekend.
As I placed a large ziploc baggy of chopped peppers in my freezer I spied the similar gallon bags of yellow and red peppers as well as another with jalapeno's and realized it would be a great budget blog hint for my readers!
Utilize your freezer... and skip the blanching step!
It's true. I no longer blanch my peppers. In return for skipping that time consuming step I now have a constant supply of peppers in my freezer year round. Previously I had to wait until I found the time blanch, stop the process in ice water and then chop and freeze.
A few years ago, after a bumper harvest of jalapeno's I started to clean and seed them and popped them into a freezer Ziploc. It worked so well to grab one or two out and use my pampered chef chopper to chop them for cooking and salsa's that I continued the freezing process with green peppers. Realizing I almost always used my green peppers in 'cooked' food items I decided the texture wasn't that important and I had nothing to lose. For years now I've regularly purchased green peppers on sale, diced or chopped them and kept them in baggies in the freezer. I'm never out of green peppers for last minute nacho dips, chili, soups, pizza or mexican casseroles.
I often buy red peppers at Costco because compared to the grocery store the price is the same is getting about 3-4 peppers 'free'. One day, wanting to use them up, I decided I didn't have time for the entire blanching or roasting and freezing process. Instead I chopped them up, placed them into Ziploc baggies and froze them. Later I needed red peppers for an Italian pasta salad and used some of the frozen peppers. I was happily surprised at the texture and quality of the peppers. I assumed they would be too wilted and porous to use in a cold pasta salad, but they worked just fine.
From then on I've never blanched a pepper since.
So todays hint: If you find green, yellow, red or orange peppers on sale or small jalapenos, buy up! Buy what makes sense for your budget that day and while you reserve one for immediate use within the next week, don't be afraid to chop and freeze the rest. It only takes about a minute to chop a pepper and throw into into a Ziploc in the freezer, but having that $.69 pepper in the freezer now sure beats needing it a month later and having to run to the store and pay $2.99 full non-sale price!