Do you still have bell peppers and maybe onions in the garden? If not, if you can find them on sale, grab as many as you can. I was so excited we had a bumper crop of peppers in the garden again this year. We are still picking several each week. I wish I could grow onions as well as the peppers, but they never get over golf ball size, so I buy onions instead of trying to grow them. Maybe next year on fresh onions from the garden.
We probably eat at least six meals a week that have peppers and onions in one form or another. Ours may not be as large as the store bought peppers, but they are still just as tasty! Since those babies are so expensive in the winter time, I like to put as many as I can in the freezer. They are great for adding to recipes that are cooked, but not so much for eating raw.
Peppers are extremely healthy too, having more Vitamin C than oranges.
No Blanching Required
Preparing peppers and onions for the freezer is super easy, because they do NOT need to be blanched before freezing. After rinsing, all you have to do is cut them up the way you intend to use them, then spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet to freeze. I use the plastic snap on lids from large cake pans. Spread the pieces out on trays barely touching and freeze for a couple of hours or overnight. When moving the peppers to freezer bags, remove as much air as possible from the bags. You could go ahead and bag them in recipe size portions before freezing, but they tend to stick together. Peppers and onions will keep for about 8 months in the freezer according to University of Nebraska.
Freezing Bell Peppers & Onion
Whole Bell Peppers – the largest and nicest looking bell peppers are frozen whole for stuffed peppers. The main criteria is that they will stand on their own, sometimes requiring slicing a sliver off the bottom. I carefully cut the top off and remove the seeds, then use a small metal spoon to scrape the veins out. The peppers are then rinsed and set upside down on a dish towel to dry before freezing. Once frozen, they go in gallon freezer bags.
Unfortunately, we don’t harvest enough whole peppers at one time to stuff before freezing, so this is what I do…when I have enough frozen for 2 meals, I’ll plan on making a big pot of spaghetti, using a package of my spaghetti sauce and I’ll cook up a package of raw hamburger out of the freezer, plus make a big batch of brown rice. We’ll have a spaghetti dinner that night, and once the leftovers are cooled completely, I’ll mix enough meat sauce and rice together to quickly fill the frozen peppers. I set the filled peppers upright in a muffin pan to freeze solid before bagging in meal size portions. I’ll plan on a stirfry the next evening using some of the rice, and then freeze the rest in 2 cup portions.
Bell Pepper & Onion strips – I find it easiest to cut large slabs off of the sides of the peppers, then going back and carefully cutting away the veins with my knife. Cut the larger flat pieces into strips. Peel and cut an onion vertically into 8-10 pieces, then separate into individual strips. I generally keep each separated on trays until I get ready to bag them up. Since we don’t get a lot of red bell peppers, I like to use the red pepper strips to mix with green strips and onions for fajitas, to sauté to put on hotdogs or smoked sausages on buns, or in a stirfry.
Diced Bell Pepper & Onions – prepare peppers and onions as described above, then hold several strips tightly together and cut in 1/2″ pieces. After freezing, if I have enough diced red peppers, first I will put together a bag with equal portions of diced red peppers, green peppers and onions for omelets, etc, where the red pepper pieces will show up. I put the rest of the cut up peppers in quart freezer bags, so I can take out just what I need.
I apologize for the pictures. I had taken nice step by step pictures, but they were lousy when I uploaded them. So I had to take peppers out of the freezer for these pictures and they are a little frosty.
I’ll be back next week with a few more ideas to use all of those peppers!