Preserving the Tastes of Summer

Eat fresh from the garden all winter with these quick tips for preserving your produce.


how to preserve peppersPeppers
Peppers (both hot and sweet) freeze beautifully without blanching. Just chop or slice them, freeze the pieces on a cookie sheet until they’re solid, and then transfer the pieces to plastic freezer bags. When you’re cooking, just scoop out what you need.

Thin-fleshed peppers will dry outside, hung on a string or set on a screen lined with brown paper in an airy, shady spot, as long as your weather is still hot and dry. (Cover the peppers with cheesecloth to keep off insects.) Thick-fleshed peppers require a food dehydrator. Small, hot peppers will dry just fine whole, but larger, thicker peppers should be cut into 1⁄2-inch slices. They’re dry when the skin becomes papery or crackly when you touch it. Store them in jars with tight lids. Mix your dried peppers into winter chili, stir-fries, and other dishes in need of a little punch. Or grind some of the dried peppers (hot or sweet) in a blender or food processor. Use the flakes as a shake-on seasoning.

how to freeze beansBeans
Prompt freezing will well preserve your homegrown beans’ vitamin content. The key to successful bean freezing is carefully timed blanching. First, bring your water to a rolling boil. Then add no more beans than the water will take and still remain boiling. After 3 minutes (not a moment more, or they’ll be limp when they come out of the freezer), remove the beans and immerse them in ice water. When they’re cool, blot dry and pack into meal-size portions in plastic freezer bags.

how to freeze peasPeas
Like beans, peas should be frozen quickly after harvesting. Blanch shelled peas for 1 1⁄2 minutes and sugar snaps and snow peas for 2 1⁄2 minutes—not any longer, or they’ll be mushy when you cook them later. Cool them in ice water, blot them dry, and then store them in freezer bags. Don’t defrost them before cooking.

Shelled peas are easy to dry. Use dried peas in soups and stews. Forget about drying the edible-podded ones; they’ll lose their crispness and become chewy and pulpy.