Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Freezing Peppers, Onions and Berries

(c) July 2011, Kathy Fannon

Summer is in full swing and the bell peppers are out at the farmers market! My favorite is the purple pepper.

Green peppers seem to be the most common, and usually the least expensive, while red peppers have more vitamins and nutrients. One serving of red peppers have about 200 mg of vitamin C compared to 80 mg for a green pepper or 70 mg of a citrus orange. Red peppers are also higher in anti-oxidants, which fight cancer! And bell peppers are a good source for B vitamins and potassium.

I love peppers all year long. I use them fresh in the summer in my omelets or with hummus for a snack. In the winter I use them in soups (or more omelets!). And since I love to support my local farmers, I buy my peppers in the summer, chop them and freeze them for use in the colder months. Actually, it's a great time saver to pull a snack bag of peppers out of the freezer and throw 'em in my soup! (Same with onions!)

How do I do it? 

I chop one pepper per snack bag, and put the snack bags in a gallon size freezer bag with the date on it so I can use the older peppers first. That's it!

You can do the same with onions, using half an onion per snack bag. And definitely use a gallon size freezer bag so the other food in the freezer doesn't pick up the onion taste. (My freezer still smells of onion, but the berries don't pick up the flavor. Whew!)

Peppers and onions last all winter long quite well in the freezer. I used the last of what I froze about 2 weeks before the farmers market opened and they tasted just as good as when they were fresh last year.

(c) July 2011, Kathy Fannon

Berries are just as easy to freeze but take a little more time. I always wash the berries off, lay them on a cookie sheet lined with a towel and blow a fan on them for faster drying. When the berries are dry I put them in the freezer, right on the cookie sheet. Freezing them before putting them in a bag will prevent sticking together. When they're frozen, I put them in a dated gallon size freezer bag. That's it!

I use frozen berries in the winter with my Crockpot Oatmeal or in the spring with some Greek yogurt for breakfast.

Peaches are just coming into season and I will peel, cut and freeze those for later use as well. Red Havens, here I come!

You can also do this with cherries. I cut them in half and take the pits out before freezing.

What tricks do you have for using farmers market produce all winter long?