My Youngest Assistant and I stopped by the incredible St. Jacobs Market (which is still awesome in spite of burning down a month ago!) on Thursday and grabbed a huge bag (1/2 bushel) of sweet yellow peppers. The bag cost $8. Considering that peppers can cost as much as a dollar each at the grocery store in the off-season this seems like a pretty good argument for buying local, seasonal food. I didn’t count the peppers but I’m guessing we came out a bit better than $1 each. However, money saved doesn’t always mean time saved.
In order for these peppers to be useful later we needed to preserve them quickly and in such a way that they would be easily accessible. The key to doing this seems to be having an efficient method of chopping them and then flash freezing them on a cookie sheet so that they don’t freeze into one huge group. Then you can just grab a handful and toss them in whatever your cooking!
To chop a sweet bell pepper quickly, begin by cutting off the top and bottom. Make a slit down the side of the pepper. Remove the core and flatten the pepper. Slice it in long strips and then cut perpendicularly. Freeze the diced peppers on a cookie sheet and transfer to freezer bags once frozen.
Be sure to exercise caution when chopping endless amounts of peppers (or anything else). Keep your fingers parallel to the edge of the knife blade so that it’s not possible to slice them in the process!
A second method is to chop them more finely in a food processor and freeze them in ice cube trays before putting them in freezer bags. This method is good for using them in sauces later.
I’ve never actually heard the term ‘bushel’ used as a measurement before. I do remember it was in one of my childhood nursery rhymes though! How much is a bushel, in terms of weight? From your sink full of peppers, it looks like it must be a whole lot. Great tutorial on cutting and preserving peppers. I can’t say I’ve ever found cheap enough ones to preserve my own in the freezer, but I’ll go on a hunt next weekend and see what I can find. Glad to hear that the market is going strong in spite of the fire!
Yeah, it’s pretty commonly used around here. In the US it’s based on gallons (8), thus it’s about 35 liters. A bushel is used for dry volumes, thus it’s usually used for produce. I guess this means I had about 18 liters of peppers to deal with. Maybe around 40-50 peppers total? I think the key to preserving high volumes of food is to shop for the things that are produced most easily close to home. You get the best value and the freshest product.
Wow. That’s huge!!!! We only use metric here in Australia, so everything is in kilograms/grams, litres, centimetres, kilometres etc. People may still use feet when converting height but that’s about the only surviving non-metric measurement! Not sure whether it’s a good or bad thing. Easy for us to organise but a bugbear for whenever I’m trying to convert US recipes.
That seems way cheaper even than growing your own!! Wow!
I know, kind of crazy! Granted, they’re not organic, but they are local and I talked to the growers….