We grow all our own vegetables here in “Our Edible Suburb”, but if there’s one thing we specialize in, it’s peppers. Most years we grow between 7 and 9 varieties, sometimes more. While we raise plenty of the obligatory bell peppers, I am a chile head and love hot ones. I have yet to find a hot pepper I don’t like. We usually have three kinds of Jalapenos (heirloom, Mammoth and a triple hot hybrid, called Biker Billy). We also grow Cayenne, Habanero and Jolokia (Ghost). This year we’re trying some Moruga Scorpions. These little stingers have replaced the Jolokia as the hottest pepper in the world. I can’t wait to get a hold of some of those. I’m thinking they also might make a great self defense weapon.
In addition to all these, we try something new each year, like Poblano, Banana or Cherry Bombs. We love our peppers.
When the Jalapenos start coming on, we have poppers once or twice a week for at least a month. By the time they stop producing, usually in October, we don’t want to look at another Jalapeno for a while. The same can be said of all the varieties. We eat them until we are blue in the face, we sell some, give some away and still we are up to our eyeballs in extra peppers. That’s where storage comes in handy. In October, we’ve had more than our fill of peppers. But come January, we’re going to want some chili or some curry and we’ll need some spicy nuggets of goodness to keep them up to our heat standards.
Take Bell Peppers for example. Have you seen how much colored peppers go for during winter months? Here in GA, they are over a dollar a piece. Shazaam! Green ones are only slightly less expensive. That’s crazy. We just grin at the people loading their winter shopping carts with over priced, under flavored peppers, knowing we’ve got all the capsaicin goodness we want already in the house.
Here’s what we do:
1. All green peppers; Bell, Serrano, Jalapeno, Poblano, are chopped and frozen. We also freeze all of our colored Bell Peppers and other thick walled varieties like Cherry Bombs. We generally use one gallon or two gallon freezer bags and just take out what we need as we need it.
2. A few Habaneros, Jalapenos and Ghost peppers are water packed and canned. I’m not sure why we do that other than variety and by canning them we don’t have to worry about electrical outages ruining our food.
3. The majority of red, yellow or orange thin walled peppers like Cayenne, Habanero and Jolokia, are dried. By drying them, they last for years. And it’s so easy to do.
Some years ago, we acquired an electric dehydrator. It’s a simple beast with a small heater and a fan, kind of like a low powered hair dryer. We spread the peppers on the shelf of the dehydrator, leaving plenty of air space between peppers and hit the switch. We check it every few hours and when they are done, we pack the peppers in plastic bags and label them. We have found that Habanero peppers take longer than Cayenne or Jolokia because the walls are thicker and they contain more water.
Some people dry theirs in a low temperature oven and in some parts of the country it’s possible to sun dry them. Whichever method you use, it’s as easy as can be. I could even dry them in my propane smoker.
Dried peppers work great in all kinds of recipes. We even put them in our spice grinder to avoid purchasing powders like Cayenne or Chili. Home made is always better.
So go ahead, give it a try. It’s planting season. Put out some peppers and preserve the harvest. But please do write in and tell us how it goes for you.