Saturday, July 21, 2012

It is pepper harvest time!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

For preserving the pepper harvest, you have some options-drying, freezing, pickling. I have also seen creative pepper jelly and preserve recipes for canning.  They sound really fun.  I may have to try a couple of them this fall.  Canning is much nicer to do when it has cooled off.  Peppers keep producing until a hard frost so there is lots of time left to experiment with preservation options!

Beautiful red Pimento pepper, ready to harvest

Peppers love summer warmth.  Surprisingly, when it gets too hot (in the 90’s) they can start to drop flowers and get sunburned.  So, don’t be surprised when they are not as perky as earlier in the season.  They will come back when the temperatures get out of the stratosphere.  During extreme heat waves, they appreciate some shade.
If you have your peppers in pots, you can just roll them into a spot that gives some relief.  If they are in the ground, you can use a shade cloth, or a piece of picket fence or screen on the south or west side of the plant.  Or just wait for nature to take its course.
Last year, all my peppers were in pots.  My sweet peppers did not produce as well as my hot peppers.  I decided to try my sweet peppers in the ground this year and plant more of them to have more fruits.  Well, I have not gotten more sweet peppers.
My spicier peppers like Ancho and Pimento are doing great in their pots.  I have been getting fruits off them for the last month.  The potted Pasilla bajio pepper for mole sauces and the Jalapeño planted in the bed have not been very prolific either.  I am hoping now that is not in the 100’s they will perk up.
As the temps start getting back into the low 90’s this next week, I will give them a boost of liquid bat guano and kelp when I water.

Ancho/poblano pepper
I am planning on drying the Ancho peppers for chile powder.   I’ll also dry and freeze the Pasilla baijo pepper to experiment with mole sauces this fall.  We love warm foods on fall football game day!
Peppers dry easily.  The quickest way is to put in a dehydrator.  Just slice in half and pop in.  If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use your oven on its lowest setting.  This year, I have just been leaving them on the window sill and they appear to be drying just fine.  You can also put on a screen in the sun or hang in a dry place.  The watchout for drying outside is the level of humidity.  In high moisture, they may spoil versus dry.
The Jalapeños and cayennes I freeze whole to use in salsa throughout the winter and spring.  I chop and freeze the Pimentos to use in salad.  It is a key ingredient in the salad we love from the Pasta House restaurant.  Typically, any food gets soft when thawed.  The Pimentos I have chopped and frozen retain their firmness after thawing.

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