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Friday, September 21, 2007

Roasted Peppers and Tomatoes

Yesterday I believe I finished putting up tomatoes for the year. I did my 3rd 5 gallon pot of sauce which yielded 11 quarts. That will go with the other 20 or so quarts of tomato sauce. I also did some salsa (I do not remember how many jars) and tomato juice (IIRC I have 21 or so jars of that.) Next on the agenda is apple sauce.

I have also been freezing. Right now peppers are the main thing I am freezing as they are coming in. I like to have at least 8 well packed gallon freezer bags of chopped sweet ripe peppers and a couple of bags of roasted peppers to get through winter. So far I have 5 bags of peppers and none of the roasted variety. I am thinking Sunday may be a good day to start a fire in the Webber grill and roast and skin a bunch of peppers. They are so good roasted. They add a wonderful smokiness to any dish you add them to.

Last year I was lucky to get 5 gallon bags. It was a bad pepper year for us-too wet I suppose. Those 5 bags were gone by April meaning we rarely had peppers all spring and most of the summer. I rarely will buy peppers at the store as ripe peppers simply cost too much for my budget (but I understand why they cost so much-a lot can and does happen to a pepper between green stage and full ripe stage and about 1/2 to 2/3 will not be sellable at ripe stage). But because I grow peppers I am used to being able to use a lot of them every time I cook with them.

This year has been a good pepper year and I should have more than enough to get through winter and spring. I already have about as many frozen as all of last year and we are still picking lots and lots of peppers and I will be freezing quite a few more in the next 10 to 20 days.

How to Roast a Pepper

Over a flaming wood fire (you can do this with charcoal but wood gives you a much better flavor and you won't have petrochemical residue left on the peppers from the fire starter. I guess a gas grill will work as well but again there is the flavor issue) put on as many peppers as you can fit. Let the flames blacken the peppers and split the skin. Turn every 15 to 30 seconds (this is fast cooking over high heat). When the peppers are black, flaky and ugly on all sides remove them and place in a paper bag to steam for a 5 to 15 minutes. Bring the bag of peppers inside to the kitchen sink. Take a pepper out of the bag and start removing the skin (which is charred). The skin should come right off. If it does not that means you did not cook the pepper quite long enough. Don't try to re-char it just take some extra time to get the skin off and next time take more time to roast the peppers. Cold running water will help in removal. Once the skin is off slice open the pepper and remove the seeds and the placenta (the thing the seeds are attached to at the top). Now, you can either use the roasted peppers right away or slice them into thin strips and place them on a cookie sheet and freeze them. Once frozen, pop the strips into a well market plastic freezer bag and store for winter use. These peppers can be used anywhere a smoky sweet flavor will work like fried potatoes, chili, macaroni and cheese, soups (I can see using these in a butternut squash soup).
Bon Apatite

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