The peppers are ready for harvest. However, I am not ready to use them for their final purposes.
I could drag out more bottles and toss them in the pressure canner until I’m ready, or I could take the much quicker and easier route and just freeze them.
I’m all about easier and faster folks.
Here’s how to freeze them.
Start with peppers that are as fresh off the vine as possible. You don’t want any older “well matured” peppers. You don’t want them to be flimsy when they thaw. I prefer not-quite ripe to just-over ripe.
Cut and pull out the insides and seeds. Rinse with cold water and tap excess water off. If time allows, let them air-dry a bit.
At this point, you will need to have an idea of what you will use them for. Chop them up as you would if you were going to use them fresh. In this picture, you will notice I chopped the yellow ones up for cooking in fajitas, casseroles, or pizza. The green ones will be used in salsa. The red ones will eventually be pureed in a tomato paste.
It is best to blanch your peppers before freezing to stop the enzymatic action that will slowly cause a loss in color as well taste. If you know you will be cooking your peppers, this is the time you will want to blanch them.
To blanch, bring a pot of water to a boil while you fill a clean sink with ice water. Once your water is boiling, put the peppers in for three minutes and then immediately remove and put into the ice water for a minute.
Pull your peppers out of the ice water and allow to dry.
If you will not be cooking your peppers when they thaw, then skip this step. Just remember not to keep them in the freezer too long or they will loose flavor and color.
When you are ready to freeze your peppers, lay them flat on baking sheets. Try not to let them touch each other and put them in the freezer for an hour. After an hour, pull them out and either place them in a zip-lock bag if you will use them within the month, or use a vacuum sealer for longer storage.
If you use a lot of peppers, go ahead and store a lot of them in the same bag. This will decrease loss if they are in the freezer long enough to develop freezer burn.
How long will they last? In a small amount in a zip-lock bag in a regular freezer, they will stay good a month or two. If they are packed in large amounts in a vacuum sealed bag in a deep freezer, they can last up to 9 months.
Since vacuum bags aren’t economical in this case (in my personal opinion), and we only use a few at a time, I have chosen to use zip-lock freezer bags for those I’m going to use for baking later on down the road. They will go in the deep freeze and I hope to use them within the next 4-5 months.
Those I plan to use in canning recipes are placed in zip-lock freezer bags in the regular freezer. They will be used in the next month (maybe two).