Last year and the year before last, I didn’t have that much luck with peppers. The year before last I had quite a few hot peppers, enough to add to the cucumbers for hot pickles and a few to dry, but not much else. Last year I had a few sweet peppers, but barely enough for the canning, I had to do. This year is a different story. I have plenty of peppers both hot and sweet peppers to do everything I want to do with them and then some. I sold a few peppers at the farmers market, but I am not the only one to have peppers there, so, I have had to figure out what to do with what I have.
Canning Hot Peppers
Last year I had to buy some hot peppers at the farmers’ market to make Rotel, so I have plenty of that. It’s just diced tomatoes and hot peppers that I canned together in vinegar and water. This year I am canning some sliced jalapeno peppers in vinegar water in half-cup jars so that I have a few to add to roasts when I cook them in the crockpot. I am also roasting a few larger hot peppers to add to bigger roasts. I don’t need many of those, but they come in handy.
I also have been making small amounts of red enchilada sauce. I first made the sauce and canned them in the half-cup jars but found that there really isn’t enough in a jar for a good batch of enchiladas so I am now making them in cup- and pint-sized jars. You want a good amount of red sauce when making enchiladas or burritos.
I have also used them in making salsa, but for now, I have some left over from last year and made enough for this year as well.
Drying Hot Peppers
When I don’t need to use them in canning, I dry most of the hot peppers. It’s as easy as cutting off the tops, cutting them in half, and laying them out on the food dryer to dry until they are crunchy crisp dry. If there’s any pliability left in them, I leave them longer. Right now, I am just putting the dried peppers into a sealed container. Later, I will put a lot of them through the food processor to grind them for chili powder.
I have a lot of cayenne peppers coming in, so I am drying them separately from the rest of the hot peppers. I’ll be making cayenne pepper powder with those later in the season as well. The process is the same as with the other peppers, but there’s nothing like good fresh cayenne when cooking.
Hot Pepper Sauce
One thing that I am not making that I would like to try perhaps next year is to make pepper sauces. I need to study more on the subject and then grow the right peppers for the project. I’ll let you know next year if I will be doing this.
I use sweet peppers in many of my tomato products. I use them in my salsa along with the hot peppers and my tomatoes. I also use them in tomato sauce. I like making pasta sauce and pizza sauce. The pasta sauce I make in pint jars and the pizza sauce I make in half pint jars. This way I have just enough for a meal and not much more than that.
I have also used them in making relishes, but right now, I have more than enough relish from two years ago. We don’t use a lot of it so I’ll wait until next year before I make more. Also, this year I didn’t get a lot of cucumbers or zucchini squash so relish and pickles where the sweet peppers usually go aren’t a good option this year.
Most of the sweet peppers this year are going into the freezer. It’s a really simple process. I do the peppers two different ways. One way is that I cut them into strips to fry for sandwiches and the other is that I chop them up and spread them out on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer. When they are frozen, I scrap them off the cookie sheet and put them into a bag, and then back into the freezer. This way, I can get as many or as few as I want at a time. To use them, don’t thaw them, but use them frozen in cooking. I like to use them in anything that I use peppers and onions in including omelets and fried potatoes O’Brien. They can also be added to soups and stews and other cooked dishes that require sweet peppers.
Do you have a bumper crop of peppers this year? If so, please share in the comments below, I would love to hear about it!