Preserving the harvest: peppers aren’t patient either.


First it was ten gallons of tomatoes to can, then six pecks of peppers to roast.

These were “seconds” from a local farmer—the slightly overripe or funny-shaped peppers he can’t sell to restaurants. At $6 a peck, they were absolutely worth it. But patient? No.

These peppers were really, really ripe. And that means really, really sweet. But it also means we had to drop everything to process them right away. And considering we had quite a few other harvest tasks to get to (cucumbers that needed pickling, beer that needed bottling, corn that needed shelling), that was a bit of a pain.

First we had to clean them. Rinse, cut out the bad spots, repeat. Many, many, many times. The boy was grumbling: “Are we really going to need so many roasted peppers this winter?”

After they were all cleaned, it was roasting time. We did some outside on our little grill and some in the oven under the broiler. They need to be nice and blistered and black so the skin will come off after a bit of steaming. (Put them in a closed pot to cool and they’ll slowly steam themselves.)

The next morning, peeling. This is a sticky business. You need a bowl for peppers, a bowl for peels, and a bowl of water for rinsing your hands. Careful not to waste the tasty “liquor” at the bottom of the steaming pot. (Some people peel outside because of the mess, but we live on a farm, so flies are a problem. I just resigned myself to mopping the kitchen floor.)

Part way through peeling, the boy tasted a bit of pepper. Wide eyes. “Oh, wow.” No more complaining from him.

The flavor really is amazing. So much better than any roasted peppers you can buy in a jar. Intensely sweet and bright and peppery.

We put ours in quart jars, destined for our new chest freezer. (You could pressure can them, but that’s a pain, and I don’t have a pressure cooker big enough for quart jars. You can also keep them in the fridge for quite a while if you make sure the tops of the peppers are always covered in olive oil.) We got about twelve quarts, not counting all the ones we’ve eaten in the past few days.

(Goat burgers with roasted peppers and zucchini relish? So good.)


  1. Jennifer Black said,

    September 10, 2007 @ 11:16 pm

    Rebecca, I’ve been drooling over your harvest posts… they have had the dangerous effect of making me yearn for domestic, kitchen-y activities instead of the prosaic bookish ones I have committed myself to. For the time being.

    What do you think… care packages for the domestically challenged?

    Love to you both.

  2. E said,

    September 11, 2007 @ 10:17 am

    I’m firmly on board– care packages for those temporarily committed to a life of the mind. Barter for library access codes.

  3. crabappleherbs said,

    September 11, 2007 @ 9:24 pm

    Oooh, library access codes. Hot. I’ll see you soon, E.

    And Jen, I’m hatching a plan. Wait and see.

  4. Riana said,

    September 14, 2007 @ 3:20 am

    I should have done this instead of just freezing them whole. do you think after i defrost them that i could still do it? are they preserved in time? or not. thanks for all the inspiration!

  5. crabappleherbs said,

    September 14, 2007 @ 10:59 am

    Riana, I’m really not sure about roasting peppers after they’ve been frozen. I’ve never done it myself, but I think it’s possible it could work. I would try defrosting and then roasting one pepper, and see how it goes. The only thing I wonder about is how much the texture might have changed in the freezing process — whether it might be a bit too delicate to peel, for example. Will you try it and tell us how it goes? I’m curious!

  6. Face Natural said,

    September 23, 2007 @ 2:03 pm

    You need to publish a ‘how to’ e-book for us city reared types who know nothing of preserving food. Cleaning drool off my laptop now . . .

  7. maureen said,

    September 24, 2007 @ 2:07 pm

    Just pack the roasted peppers in freezer containers?.

  8. crabappleherbs said,

    September 24, 2007 @ 2:16 pm

    Thank you Face Natural! I have all sorts of ideas for food books… we shall see.

    And Maureen, yes, pack them in freezer containers of your choice (you can see I used glass jars). But whatever you use, make sure you leave enough headspace for the peppers to expand as they freeze. (For jars I think the standard is an inch for pints and an inch and a half for quarts.)

    Happy eating!

  9. The Herbwife’s Kitchen » Preserving the harvest: zucchini relish. said,

    October 16, 2007 @ 2:58 pm

    […] turned out really well—delightfully tangy and mustardy. We ate it on goat burgers with roasted peppers the other day. The boy kept shaking his head and saying “Mmm.” He ate three. Share […]

  10. Diane Coe said,

    January 27, 2008 @ 8:02 pm

    I’m loving your blog. Your recipes are keepers as we share a heart for fermented and traditional foods! I’m with you on freezing, not only does it save time and AC in the hot summer months but it also preserves the nutrients. Did you use anything to pack with your peppers or just peppers? Thanks so much.

  11. Candice said,

    August 27, 2008 @ 8:15 am

    I’ve just roasted and peeled the peppers, but need to clarify… When freezing, do I need any form of liquid or anything else? Please hurry with a reply, my peppers are getting anxious.

  12. crabappleherbs said,

    September 9, 2008 @ 4:38 pm

    Diane: Thank you! I just packed the peppers with a little salt and olive oil.

    Candice: You don’t need anything else, but you could add a bit of salt and olive oil like I do.

  13. Jana said,

    March 8, 2009 @ 11:12 pm

    Hey there– Just discovered and enjoying your blog. Longing for summer. Do you pressure can in a regular old pressure cooker or do you have a special p. canner? I have an 8 qt regular cooker w/ no guage and was wondering if you have successfully p.c.’d in something similar. THanks!

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