Rather than say goodbye to warmer weather, longer days, and fresh veggies from the garden, I'm determined to preserve at least one of these three things.
Late summer and early fall are actually peak season for these sweeter, more colorful beauties — they flourish in the cooler fall weather after a summer of battling the hot sun and little rain. They also take longer to ripen than green bell peppers — hence their later peak.
The peppers in my garden did exceptionally well this year, as Philadelphia had record rainfall in August and September (and by record, I mean that we surpassed the previous record by 7 inches of rain!!). The peppers in my garden apparently were in heaven because, even yesterday, I picked a handful of green bell peppers and another dozen jalapeños. That's a pretty fantastic run this year!
At my urban produce market, red and orange bells have been very affordable the past few weeks at $0.99/pound, so I decided to stock up! As you probably know, the going rate for red and orange bell peppers is often $3.99/pound, which puts you at several dollars per pepper! Not so wallet-friendly.
If you roast and marinade the peppers, they keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. But you can also take it a step further and preserve the peppers — stock up your pantry now and you can enjoy them even in the dead of winter. Plus, having jars of preserves around is perfect for hostess gifts, especially this time of year with holiday parties and family get-togethers. Just cut a square piece of cute fabric slightly larger than the circumference of the lid, slap a label on the jar, and call it good!
Marinated Roasted Red Peppers (makes about 4-6 pounds of peppers)
4-6 lbs. clean bell peppers (I used red and orange)
1 cup good olive oil2 cups white distilled vinegar
1 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons squeezed)
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Roast the peppers. Position your oven rack so that the peppers will be 3-4 inches from the broiler. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a large, heavy cookie sheet with foil and arrange the peppers in a single layer. Then switch the oven to the broiler (on high) and put the peppers in the oven on the top rack. Allow the skins of the peppers to blacken, rotating them with tongs about every 5 minutes. You want all sides to char, with a total cooking time of about 30 minutes. Take them out of the oven and either (1) place the peppers in a paper bag and tightly fold over the top to keep the heat in, or (2) leave them on the cookie sheet and cover tightly with foil. This step is very important, as the steam from the peppers will make the skins easy to remove.
Peel the peppers. Once the peppers have cooled, you can easily peel the skins off with your hands. One by one, pull out the stem of the pepper and gently remove the seeds. Then slide off the blackened skins and discard. Whatever you do, don't rinse the peppers in the sink! You'll strip them of their flavor.
Store the peppers. Here's where you get to make some decisions. You are more than welcome to refrigerate the roasted peppers plain in an airtight container. They will be pure and delicious — they don't necessarily need any jazz! This recipe, however, is for marinated roasted peppers, so read on if you're interested.
Marinate the peppers. To make the marinade, combine the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic slices, and salt in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until boiling, and then remove from the heat. If you are storing the peppers in one container, you can pour this mixture over all of the peppers once they're in their storage container. If you're going to preserve them, read on friends!
Preserving the peppers. If you've never preserved anything before, you should know that it's actually a pretty simple process. You just need the right equipment — at the very least jars, lids, and a deep pot. Having special canning tongs and a wide-mouth funnel is also very helpful.
Lower the filled jars into the pot of boiling water, taking care not to let the glass jars hit the bottom too hard. (This is where having a canning rack and tongs comes in handy!) Water should cover jars by at least an inch. Boil for 15 minutes, and then carefully remove. Let cool completely on the counter (you may hear the jars "pop" as they are sealed). You know a jar is sealed if the button in the middle of the lid is pushed down. If you have a jar that does not seal properly, store it in the refrigerator and use up within a few weeks. Otherwise the shelf-life is about a year.
Click here for a printable recipe!