I have a lot of frozen peppers that I just can't stand to throw out - green, yellow, red. I try to use them in stir-fries, but it seems like they're just a little bit more mushy than I really enjoy. It's just not like fresh. Even if I defrost and drain and dry them as best I can, so they don't in effect "boil" when they're heated. Can anyone suggest any way I can use up a whole bunch of them, all at once? Some nifty recipe? Exotic ingredients are no obstacle!
I've been stewing about this for a few days... so tempted to just dump these things in the garbage! But... maybe I should puree them, as well as some carrots, celery, and onions, and make vegetable juice! I still have some canned tomatoes left to use as the main ingredient. Maybe use up the leftover frozen zucchini in there too. I'd can up the results in a pressure canner. What do you think?
I freeze whole peppers and use them as needed in soups, sauces etc. How @ looking for a recipe for roasted peppers to roast and store in the fridge in olive oil like the pricey ones I keep in my pantry. Or a sauce made with purred peppers and frozen, forget the name of this sauce. Google it, I'm sure you will find many delictable recipes.
I don't know how much this will use up, but we just had them sautéed with olive oil and garlic on an Italian roll, with provolone cheese placed on top, melted slightly from the heat of the cooked peppers, for lunch yesterday. I save them all winter and use them in stews and other cooked dishes. They're great with Italian sausage and onions over rice, too.
Thanks, you guys. I think I figured out what part of the problem in freezing peppers is - they need to be frozen *fast*, to avoid the mushiness as far as possible. I'm thinking I just cut them up and put them in the bags, and froze them that way. Too slow, so they went mushy. Not so good, for my recipes! I'll try again this year and try to freeze them as quickly as possible, on trays. Hopefully that will help.
I think it might also help if you freeze smaller quantities at a time - so they freeze faster. I freeze multi colored bell peppers often - whenever the local store marks them down. I usually only have a few (3 to 5) to freeze at any one time. I slice then thin and freeze them in quart size bags (only maybe 1/4 full). I lay the bag flat to freeze so that the slices are spread out as much as possible. I think freezing them on a cookie sheet would be better, but I never have the freezer space for that. While not crispy like fresh peppers, mine are not soggy/mushy. They cook up nicely in stir-fries. Sounds to me like you probably tried to freeze too many at one time.
I use mine in numerous recipes. I especially like them in rice dishes, pilafs, etc. I think they add 'personality' (and color) to almost any rice dish.
If you still have that large qty of frozen (mushy) peppers you need to do something with fast, here's a thought. What if you puree them and then refreeze in smaller size (for easy use), either pint or quart bags partially full and frozen flat or ice cube tray? If freezer space is an issue, you could cook the pureed peppers in a large skillet over low heat to reduce (evaporate liquid). As they cook, push the solids out toward the sides of the pan so the water pools in the center where it will boil off as they simmer. I do this with tomatoes, and it's amazing how much you can 'compress' them - a dutch oven full will fit in a pint size bag if you cook all the water out. Pureed this way, the peppers will still retain their flavor and would make a great addition to all kinds of dishes. Either drop in a cube or two or, if using bags frozen flat, break off a piece to add to soups, stews, rice, roasts, etc.
You might be right then, greenhouse_gal. I've only ever frozen small quantities, so I figured that might be the key.
joanlc, if you puree and freeze the various colors separately, you could also do some colorful, creative things, depending on the situation, like swirling the puree around on a large dish the way chef's do (before or after adding the meal). You could experiment with adding the puree(s) on wraps, sandwiches, etc for added flavor (and color), mix with mayo to make a colorful aoli, mix with sour cream and other ingredients for dips, add to pasta sauces and chilli, etc. sky's the limit. You could also make that vegetable juice you had in mind, except you wouldn't be pressed to use all the puree right away. Just a thought. Above all, I hope you have better success with your next batch of peppers. (Maybe try freezing part of the batch 1st, using whatever method you decide, they thaw them to see how it worked before doing more.)
Thanks again, DreamOfSpring and greenhouse_gal. That's all very constructive and helpful. My peppers this year are off to what appears like a slow start (though the tomatoes are on some kind of a race, go figure), but if I get some decent production, I'll go the slice-thin/freeze fast/small quantities route.
Greenhouse_gal, what do you consider a long, sweet variety? Carmen? Giant Marconi? I don't have Carmen this year, but I do have Giant Marconi. I hope to get my old greenhouse re-assembled this summer so I can grow my own, next spring, and choose what I want instead of taking what I can find at the garden centers. So I'd love to know your most successful freezing varieties. Thanks!
I have Cubanelles and Marconi Reds as well as some odd varieties that I got from a friend in France. Cubanelle and Marconi Red freeze well; actually I don't know of any that don't. I don't slice them thin; I cut them lengthwise into thirds or quarters, depending on the size of the pepper, and freeze like that.
I slice mine before freezing, but only because I expect to use them either sliced (as in stir-fries) or diced (as in pilaf). I slice them to make them easier to use from the freezer. While I regularly freeze a few when I get them on sale, I haven't been growing them since my injury forced me to quit gardening several years ago. Thus I don't have large quantities to freeze.
It really sounds like Greenhouse_gal has a lot more experience with this. I only offered up my info because what I do works for me. I could just imagine the frustration of thinking you have lots of frozen peppers only to find that you only have mush. Whatever you choose, I sure hope you have better luck this year.
You could make stuffed pepper soup. It's on the allrecipes site, probably other places too, just search for it. It's good and uses up quiet a few peppers.
I freeze mine by chopping, laying flat on a cookie sheet in the freezer in a single layer for a couple of hours and then I vacuum seal them in whatever portion I think I might need. I love my vacuum sealer.
I'm glad this thread got revived at this time. Just this past week while reorganizing the freezer, I found a bag (1qt) of peppers, mixed colors, which I had chopped and frozen last summer. I should have used them up this past winter, but they got lost in the freezer. I was cooking up some meals for the coming week, making a large pot of chilli and a pot of Zataran's Black Eyed Peas & Rice. Hoping to put some of those peppers in both, I opened the bag to see if they were still ok.
The chopped, frozen peppers were stuffed into 1qt, ziplock, storage (not freezer) bag. I had apparently run out of freezer bags at the time. They had been in the freezer for a year. When I opened the bag, they were awesome: great texture, absolutely brilliant, undiminished color, and the aroma and flavor were as though I had just chopped them only minutes earlier. Even though I had stuffed them directly into the bag and pressed as much air out as possible before sealing, the frozen peppers remained 'loose'; they were not stuck together like in a solid block. I put several handfuls in the chilli and the equivalent of 1 to 2 peppers in the rice dish. They were a heavenly addition to both. The aroma of freshly cut peppers permeated the kitchen. I was a bit surprised to find the peppers in such perfect shape after a year in the freezer.
It is interesting that those of us who have responded here have reported success with a variety of methods, some freezing on a cookie sheet, some using a vacuum method, and me just stuffing that one ziplock, storage bag with chopped peppers. It seems like peppers tolerate a variety of treatments in freezing, making it all the more difficult to imagine what might have gone wrong with the peppers that prompted this thread. The only other thing that comes to mind is water. I can't recall if this was covered previously, but is it possible the peppers didn't dry thoroughly after rinsing and thus were frozen with some residual water? I think that would cause them to be mushy when thawed. Also, if something caused them to thaw and refreeze, that, too, might have caused the problem. Seems like quite the mystery.
pestee42, I just started using a vacuum sealer. Love it so much I'm planning to go through the freezer & repackage the meats with the vacuum sealer, so they will stay good longer. I had some vacuum sealed salmon filets shipped here directly from Alaska a few years back. Those things were still good 2yrs later. Fish is normally only good 6mo or so when frozen the usual way, so I'm sold on the vacuum method.
I have the Food saver. I get the bags by the roll and cut them to size. They are a little cheaper that way. I also wash and re-use them as long as there are no leaks in them. Just cut the top off. They get a little smaller each time but that is Ok.
I think they do make some types that use regular, freezer bags.
I don't have a 'real' one - yet. Right now I'm using a little hand held device made by ziplock or Reynolds, one of the bag companies. I bought it a year or so back when they were selling them at the grocery store. It was pretty inexpensive, and I bought it to see if I liked it before investing in a 'real' vacuum sealer. I do, btw. I LOVE it. I don't really recommend the type I bought, although it does work and beats nothing. It works really well with dry ingredients but has issues with liquids (even small amounts w/solid ingredients). Now that I know how much I like it, I plan to invest in a 'real' one - as soon as I sort through all the info to decide which one.
sorry @ my delayed response. No steps just put them in a zip lock and try to find a spot in the freezer. I use the bells in cooked foods only, however the hot peppers I mince and put in whatever, don't have the crunch in salsas , but saves a trip to the store for one hot pepper.
You are so welcome...I'm not a novice at this, was an cook in institutes for over 25 year and still am obsessed with all things cooking, freezing and drying. Would not steer you wrong.