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What to do with an abundance of chile peppers?

We’ve heard from some folks on twitter and facebook that this year seems to be shaping up really well for peppers, and already several yields are coming in from a single plant. Most folks we’ve chatted with are growing peppers in a home garden and asking what they should do with extra peppers that they cant eat while fresh.

Here are a few options:

  1. Drying: If you happen to live in the southwest like arizona or New Mexico the common practice for 1000’s of years is to split open your peppers and dry them on a hot rock. For the rest of us, if you happen to have a dehydrator handy this is a great option. Food dehydration is also really safe because once water is removed from the food, mold and bacteria cannot grow on it and it won’t spoil. However, a significant loss of vitamin A and C happens in dried foods due to the heat and air. If you dont have an electric dehydrator handy, Oven drying is good, but it isn’t very energy efficient, and you lose a lot of flavor. You will need to prop open the oven door to maintain air circulation during the drying process. You’ll need to dry for several hours, so you can see the problem here. Also, If your oven cannot keep a temperature below 200 degrees farenheit, use another method.
  2. Canning: Invest in a Pressure Canner (a large pressure  pot with a lifting rack to sanitize the jars after filling you can usually pick one up for between $75 – $150 dollars. These are good for for low acid foods like most vegetables, where you can’t use an open water bath canner, it has to be a pressure canner to get the high temperatures to kill the bacteria. If you plan on canning every year, it’s worth the price. The most important thing about pressure canning is that you need peppers that are FRESH and crisp. So make sure you pick and can ASAP.

  3. Freezing: This is probably the most economical and handy method for saving peppers. Just chop them up, place them on a cookie sheet and in the freezer. After freezing place into a zip lock bag and store in the freezer until your ready to cook. Frozen peppers are perfect for chili, soups, rice dishes and more.

Hope this was helpful.

Buen Provecho

DHP

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New Mexico find friends in Illinois

Recently at our Saturday Farmers Market in downtown Springfield Illinois, I’ve had fun meeting some residents originally from New Mexico who stopped by.  These chileheads went directly to the long green peppers as if they have found a long lost friend. Week after week now I’ve been getting questions and thoughts like: where do you get these, do you grown them yourself, I haven’t seen these peppers since I left New Mexico.

For those of you who just have to know…Yes we are able to grow the long greens in southern Illinois. Although we are not growing as many peppers as New Mexico, we have enough to meet the appetite until you are able to return to visit friends and relatives in New Mexico and get your taste of down home darn hot cooking. Springfield Illinois is a great city and I am happy to meet chile lovers from around the world.