Sunday, August 18, 2019

Preserving peppers

Potted pepper plant
Sunday, August 18, 2019

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!

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.
Sweet pepper plant in the garden
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.
I have tried peppers in the ground and in pots.  They seem to do the best in a pot.  All the hot peppers I have ever tried are much more prolific than any sweet pepper I had tried.  I kept trying new types of sweet peppers, looking for a type that loves my garden conditions.  I finally found one.  I grew out some plants from the seed of a hybrid sweet yellow banana pepper.  I got yellow, orange and maroon sweet peppers from the seed that do great in my garden.  I now save the seed to re-grow in the garden.  
The small hot pepper that I overwinter is doing well called Chiltepin.  It is the oldest form of capsicum annum species and is very hot.  These tiny hot peppers, I just put on the counter to dry.    When completely dry, I will put in a jar.  I use these peppers in the grilling mix I make. 
I gave a boost to all our garden plants with Espoma Gardentone and Azomite last week end (for a make your own boost I have also used bat guano, feather meal, and kelp meal).  Potted plants should be fertilized a couple of times a month and garden bed veggies, once a month.  

Ancho/poblano pepper
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.
Dehydrate or sun dry your extra veggies

I am growing Ancho peppers for chili pepper.  My hubby loves lots of chili pepper in his chili.  I have been harvesting them for about a month now.

The bigger hot peppers I freeze whole to use in salsa throughout the winter and spring.  Quick, homemade salsa  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.  For the recipe, see  Homemade salad dressing recipes with garden herbs   Typically, any food gets soft when thawed.  The Pimentos I have chopped and frozen retain their firmness even after thawing.

I also make hot sauce from the hot peppers.  It is super easy by slicing and placing in apple cider vinegar.  I typically use Cayenne peppers for hot sauce but any hot pepper that you like will do just fine.

If you have a pepper plant that did great this year, there are a couple ways to make sure you have them in your garden next season.  You can save seeds from your favorite peppers for next year's garden.  Just dry the seeds and put them in a freezer bag in the frig.  Be sure to save the seeds from the best fruits.  Seed saving-fun, easy and a cost saver  

Peppers are perennials that you can bring in to the house or garage to overwinter.  It gives them a jump on next season.  This has worked well for my hot peppers and not so well for the sweet peppers I have tried to overwinter in the garage.

For more tips on growing peppers, Peppers are for every taste and garden.

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