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Preserving Your Harvest

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It's time to think about how to preserve the bountiful harvest of chili peppers you have coming. There are many options that will allow you to have your fresh peppers now but also have them throughout the winter and into next year. Here are a few ideas.

For drying, put the peppers out in the sun either on an open grid (like a cooling rack) or strung to hang. Key is to get good air circulation. Humidity may be a problem in some areas; strong bright sunshine is required to combat this. An alternative is to put the peppers on a cooling rack (on a cookie sheet) in the oven at the lowest setting (usually around 170°) and prop the oven door open with a mitt. Sun drying will take several days. Oven drying is usually done in about 24 hrs. Once you have dried peppers you can save them in ziplock bags whole or grind them into flakes or powder.

Other options for preserving are to freeze them (whole or coarse chopped) and use later. If you chop them, consider putting them in an ice cube tray for freezing; then you can store the frozen cubes in a ziplock freezer bag for use later one cube at a time. Very convenient.

Pickled peppers either alone or mixed with other pickled vegetables is always good, but a bit more work. Making sauce is another option. We recently had a recipe printed in Edible Boston for making sauce. This is definitely worth a try if you like sauce, and it's pretty easy.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor throughout the year. We think of it like Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine ... summer in a bottle.


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