Though not as prolific as zucchinis, pepper plants can produce a bumper crop. If canning jars and hot water baths intimidate you, don't worry. There are hassle-free preservation methods you can use. Read on for three easy ways to capture all that deliciousness for stir-frys, stews, salsas and whatever else strikes your fancy.
- Freeze them. By far the easiest method, though keep in mind they will not be crisp once they thaw out. Roasted peppers also freeze beautifully if you're willing to put in a bit more time.
- For sweet peppers
- Simply chop as you want to use them later (in strips, diced, etc.), then spread on parchment-lined cookie sheets for initial freezing to prevent clumping later. Store in an air-tight container with as much air as possible removed (plastic freezer bags are idea).
- For hot peppers
- Small, thin-skinned hot peppers like piquin and cayenne couldn't be easier to freeze - just wash, dry, and pop into freezer bags. Bonus: Cutting them (always with gloves!) is easier when they're frozen.
- Jelly them. Hot pepper jelly is fantastic with cream cheese and crackers, pork chops, and in many other places you'd use hot sauce. Look for a recipe online or on a box of pectin and spoon the finished product into jars (for the fridge) or plastic freezer bags. Jelly should last about a month in the fridge, or up to a year in the freezer.
- Dry them. String thin-skinned hot peppers with a carpet needle and heavy thread (or fishing line) and hang to dry. The ideal drying location is a hot, sunny spot, but any dry, well-ventilated area will do.
- Complete drying takes about a week - check the peppers by gently squeezing them (with gloved hands).
- If you live in a humid area, cut them in half lengthwise and dry them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet in a 200-degree oven. This method may take up to three hours, and you'll need to check them frequently to turn them and make sure they don't burn.