Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Preserved Sweet Peppers

If you've been following my blog for a while you may have noticed the bumper crop of peppers that I harvested this past autumn. The final pepper tally ended up at 122 pounds, more than half of which were thick fleshed peppers suitable for roasting. Roasted sweet red peppers and green New Mexico type peppers are a couple of my favorite things. I prefer to prepare them by blackening the skins over an open flame. Then I put the blackened peppers into a stainless steel bowl and cover it with a lid from one of my skillets and let them sit until they are cool enough to handle. Alternatively, the skins can be blackened in a very hot oven and then transferred to the covered bowl to cool. Some cooks like to put the peppers into a bag to cool or even wrap them in plastic wrap, but I've found that the bowl method works just fine and is less wasteful, no bags or plastic wrap to toss in the trash. The peppers are easily peeled by just rubbing the blackened skins off, I like to rinse my hands off and use my wet hands to wipe off any excess black spots rather than rinsing the peppers themselves, that leaves more of the roasted good flavor on the peppers.

One of my husbands favorite dishes featuring roasted sweet peppers is a Spanish salad of pepper strips arranged on a platter with chopped egg, best quality olive oil packed tuna, and green olives scattered over the top and dressed with a good quality red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. This is always a much anticipated dish when the season for peppers starts. Unfortunately, we have only been able to enjoy this dish during the local pepper season because I refuse to buy hot house peppers imported from thousands of miles away during the off season and my usual method of preserving roasted sweet peppers by freezing doesn't produce pepper strips that have the right texture for salads. 

But now I've come across a method of preserving sweet roasted peppers that makes excellent salad quality peppers. Hank Shaw over at Hunter Gardener Angler Cook came up with a hybrid pickling-sott'olio method of preserving roasted peppers. His method is to dredge the roasted peppers in a good quality vinegar, then pack the peppers into jars with a salted mixture of the pepper juices and more vinegar, top it off with extra virgin olive oil. The jars do not need to be processed, just store them in the refrigerator where, according to Hank, they should keep for up to a year. So far, at three months, my store of peppers seems to be keeping quite well and they are so good that I doubt that I will have enough to test the one year mark.



I opened the jar shown above last night, not to make my husband's favorite salad, but to accompany some burrata cheese. One of the beauties of Hank's method for preserving the peppers is that they are already seasoned and ready to eat straight from the jar. But for this salad, I added some dried sweet marjoram (from my garden) and some fresh ground black pepper. I also seasoned the burrata with some red sea salt and a drizzle of my very best extra virgin olive oil. We enjoyed this with some toasted rustic bread - smear some cheese on the bread, top with some pepper strips and yum!





7 comments:

  1. This is a terrific idea, refrigeration really was a great invention for preserving! And it's also possible to pressure can peppers for longer-term storage, or if you've run out of fridge space...

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    1. I haven't tried pressure canning peppers. I assume that the texture of the peppers will be similar to frozen peppers and freezing is a lot less work. Perhaps I'm wrong.

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  2. I had read his approach to preserving peppers before, but was skeptical about the oil; however, your endorsement means a lot. I'll be trying this out this summer.

    I can taste that salad just by looking at it. Yum.

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    1. I was skeptical also, which is why I waited 3 months before endorsing this method. I also have a stash of roasted sweet peppers in the freezer, I wasn't going to take a chance on a new method with the bulk of my crop. If I grow a lot of peppers next year I will probably preserve more of them with this method, I'm going through them pretty quickly. I used the remaining half of that jar last night to make a salad with grapefruit, avocado, and pomegranate arils. It was delicious.

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  3. Those peppers sounds scrumptious in the merlot vinegar. I pickled two ways last year, one in champagne vinegar and oil, one just in champagne vinegar, but your merlot vinegar peppers look gorgeous, and it sounds like they're much less work too!

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  4. The pepper dish looks delicious, I have to try this method of preserving if I ever grow enough sweet peppers.

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  5. I just started pepper seeds myself, so I'll definitely be referring back to this blog post. Sounds delish!

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