Hot and spicy or meek and mild — all types of peppers have their fans. This month Rogue Valley peppers start to mature. Pretty soon there will be bushels to pick, whether from your garden or at growers markets. Don't worry about having too many; roasted peppers are easy to store.
"I buy a case of organic peppers in the summer when they cost about $2 a pound," says Marilyn Moore, instructor at Southern Oregon University and Allyson's Kitchen in Ashland.
To store bell peppers, chop them, remove the seeds and stems, then spread them on a cookie sheet covered with parchment and freeze, says Moore. Once frozen, place them in plastic bags and they'll be ready when you need them.
Moore also roasts peppers with tomatoes, garlic and onion, which she then stores in 2-cup portions.
"Then when I want tomato sauce in the winter, boom, there it is."
Planning ahead is the key to quality for frozen food, says Moore. Defrosting food in the cooking process will destroy the food integrity, she says. "It turns to mush."
She recommends taking peppers out of the freezer a day before you'll need them.
The most economical and efficient way to roast peppers is in the oven, says Mary Shaw, culinary education specialist at the Ashland Food Co-op. "Put them on a cookie sheet about 2 to 3 inches from the broiler and turn it on," says Shaw. "The goal is to blister the skin. It'll turn brown and split in places."
When you see this happening, pull them out of the oven and, using tongs, turn them over. Repeat on the other side. For immediate use, place in a plastic bag for about 10 minutes. They will "sweat," making the skin easier to remove. Do that near the sink and rinse as needed.
You can skip that step if you plan to freeze the roasted peppers. The skin will fall off when you defrost them, says Shaw. Moderate the heat by removing the heat source — the seeds and internal veins.
So get plenty of peppers while the price is good. Then all year long you can cook recipes like the ones that follow.