Pepper plants are loaded with ripe growth in fall, so it’s good news that they are among the easiest home-grown foods to preserve. When cut into strips, peppers can be frozen raw, dried or made into simple refrigerator pickles. Or, add chopped peppers to canned tomato sauces and salsas for a little extra spice.
Help pepper plants channel energy to maturing fruits by clipping off new blossoms and baby fruits that won’t have time to mature before colder temperatures arrive. Peppers taste sweeter and have more vitamin C when they turn from green to red, yellow or orange.
Harvest fruit as soon as it shows stripes or patches of its mature colors and let it finish ripening indoors where pests can’t find it.
Preserve Your Bumper Crop of Peppers:
- Freeze: The simplest way to preserve peppers is to freeze raw strips in freezer bags. Wash peppers, pat dry and cut into pieces. Place the pieces on a cookie sheet and freeze for an hour or so, then move the frozen pieces to a zip-close freezer bag. Each time you add more peppers, jiggle the bag to keep the pieces from sticking together.
- Dehydrate: Cut ripe peppers into cubes, rings or strips and dry in a dehydrator. This is the best way to store jalapenos and other hot peppers.
- Cook: Grill or smoke large pieces of pepper until they are soft. Freeze for long-term use. Thaw and chop for a tasty treat on pizza, fajitas or any hot or cold sandwich. This is one of the most delicious ways to preserve peppers.
- Pickle: Combine a colorful mixture of chopped sweet and hot peppers in a clean quart jar and cover with a brine of 3 cups vinegar, 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon each of salt and sugar. Refrigerate immediately for homemade pickled peppers. Because they are never heated, refrigerator pickled peppers retain their crisp texture for up to three months.
- Boil: Blanch trimmed peppers in steam or boiling water before freezing to help preserve color and texture for stuffed peppers. Or, make a big batch of your favorite stuffed pepper recipe, and wrap the cooled, stuffed fruits individually before freezing them.
Other veggies you can also harvest and preserve and savor later include most of what’s in your garden from okra and tomatoes to squash and beans.
Learn more ways to preserve your harvest.