For Those Short on Space

October 2, 2007 at 10:14 am 19 comments

Lipstick Peppers (sweet and small) 

Let’s face it, a lot of us, particularly those living in city apartments, are operating in less-than-spacious kitchens that have limited shelf space and even more limited freezer space.  Canning and freezing fresh produce from our gardens (we wish we were that lucky!) or the neighborhood farmers market for use over the winter isn’t nearly as feasible under these conditions. Really, canning requires a big stove, lots of counter space, and a mighty hard working dishwasher. 

Still, you don’t want to be left out of the “eat local” revolution for six whole months until Mother Nature decides to dust off her chilly snowy shawl.  Cooks in by-gone days solved a similar problem by drying much of their summer harvests. As I recounted before, my grandmother is of the generation that dried a great deal of their food – she can still remember using an ice house as a little girl and the day she and my grandfather bought their first refrigerator for the house.  They were considered very progressive in our small country town. She also remembers cooking on wood stoves and using the lovely low heat of dying coals to dry corn as I replicated the other week.

The guts! Pepper seeds and stems

The beauty of dried vegetables is that they’ll keep for several months in something as informidable as a ziplock bag. No large cans to boil and stack to the ceiling. Dried veggies can be used much as you would the fresh version once they’re reconstituted after a soak in hot water. Rather, I should say that by all accounts from both my grandmother and from what I can dredge up online, dried veggies are going to make for some mighty fine winter eating. 

The truth is, I’m just getting started with dried vegetables myself. So far I’ve tried tomatoes and corn, both of which dried beautifully.  The tomatoes I’ve already used with success in some stuffed pumpkin blossoms.  Now I’m trying sweet peppers.  “Lipstick” red peppers to be exact – I love that name! We had a bunch leftover from the market this weekend and I thought it’d be worth a try to dry them since they’d not last long enough to eat all of them fresh. 

Pepper quarters

They dried up perfectly – quite quickly in comparison to the tomatoes since there’s much less juice to contend with in pepper flesh.  And I tasted one out of curiosity…major pepper flavor!  The drying process definitely intensified the natural sugars.  Now I just have to figure out what to do with them!   I’m thinking of just throwing them into whatever I use the corn or tomatoes for…for instance, when I make a savory corn casserole with reconstituted corn, I’ll reconstitute some peppers too, dice them and stir them into the casserole.  Or, if I use some reconstituted dried tomatoes in a stir fry, why not try some peppers too?  I also think I might crumble up a handful and put them in the soup pot sometime for what will no doubt be a real punch of pepper flavor!

Peppers laid out on the baking sheet

We’ll just have to wait and see together what comes of this drying series.  It’s an experimental journey.  I realize maybe you’re not ready to take it yourself for right now.  That’s okay – I’m lucky enough to have the abundance of produce to experiment for the both of us.   One thing’s for sure - I’m getting quite a nice collection of drying bags hanging from my pot rack. 

Dried peppers on the baking sheet

OVEN DRIED (SWEET) PEPPERS

Begin by washing and drying the peppers.  Cut off tops and remove the stems and seeds, as well as any of the white “ribs”.  Quarter peppers and lay out, insides up, in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet. 

Place in the oven and set the temperature on the lowest possible setting (ideally somewhere between 100 and 150 F).  If you have an older gas stove with a larger pilot light, you may not even have to turn on the oven.  Also, if you need to leave for awhile, you can turn off the oven and allow the peppers to sit in there for several hours and then return to drying by turning on the oven again.

Dried Pepper Bags of dried veggies hanging from my pot rack

Turning them over every hour or so for even drying, allow peppers to dry in the oven for about 8 hours, until all noticable moisture is gone.  Don’t allow them to become overly brittle. Remove from oven and allow to cool before placing in a paper sack and hanging up to dry in your kitchen for a few days to remove any remaining moisture. 

Place fully dried peppers in a ziplock bag or tin and store in your cupboards. To reconstitute, soak in hot water for three to five minutes.

(10 smallish peppers yielded about 1 cup of dried peppers)

Dried (Sweet) Peppers

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Entry filed under: Preserves, Recipes. Tags: .

Let Them Eat Cake! From Start…

19 Comments Add your own

  • 1. radish  |  October 2, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    Oh this looks so yummy!! I was drooling over the peppers at the green market – this is a great thing to do with them!

    Reply
  • 2. Jennie  |  October 2, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    Glad you like the idea, Radish – any ideas for how you would use them once they’re dry? I’m collecting thoughts and formulating a plan. :)

    Reply
  • 3. VegeYum  |  October 20, 2007 at 1:02 am

    I read this recipe when you posted it – then promptly forgot who had posted it. It has taken me all this time to find you and the recipe again. The capsicums are in the oven as I write. I will let you know how it goes…..

    BTW great photos.

    Reply
  • 4. Jennie  |  October 20, 2007 at 9:28 am

    VegeYum – So glad you found me again! :) I have this huge list of bookmarked food blogs that I keed adding to as I see posts I want to try…it’s getting a bit out of hand now though. Please let me know how your capsicums turn out! And thanks for the compliment! :)

    Reply
  • 5. VegeYum  |  October 20, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    Hi Jennie, Yes, yes, yes I have a million bookmarks, it is just ridiculous! Anyway, I have tried the dried peppers and I LOVE THEM. I reckon that you can use them (quite differently) at various different stages of the drying process, with quite different tastes. What amazed me was how sweet they became as the sugars intensified and caramelised a little. No wonder they are sometimes called “Sweet Peppers”.

    Also I found out that dried peppers can be ground into a powder and then sprinkled into any dish you like, including home made pasta and breads.

    Thanks for your post and the inspiration. I have made my notes available here (I hope that link worked. ) It won’t be published till November, and I will add an “after” photo to the post, but you can preview if you like… Let me know what you think.

    I can see that this will become a standard item for me.

    Reply
  • 6. Jennie  |  October 20, 2007 at 8:39 pm

    VegeYum – Success!!! I’m so happy you liked the end results. And I love your ideas for using them as a powder for breads and pastas. I’m in whole-hearted agreement that they are very sweet once dried – sweet pepper taste x20! I think I’m going to be making another batch soon that I plan to leave a little moisture in and then store them in oil with garlic slices and fresh marjoram from the farm. I plan to then use those in soups this winter. I’m getting really hooked on the whole drying thing so glad to have company in my new obsession. :) Can’t wait to see you post on it — the preview link didn’t work for me but that’s okay. I’ll read it in its full glory when it’s finished.

    Thanks so much for sharing the outcome of your use of this recipe…I love hearing what readers do with what I’ve suggested. :)

    Reply
  • 7. VegeYum  |  October 21, 2007 at 12:20 am

    Jennie, sorry that the preview didn’t work. But I loved drying them, and actually, they are on my desk at the moment and I keep eating them as a crunchy snack. I think I will have to make some more – this batch is in danger of disappearing.

    I had thought of covering them with oil – I do this with oven dried tomatoes – but not with garlic and herbs – yes, fantastic idea.

    And all so very easy. Who could want more?

    (hope you have seen my dried tomatoes on today’s post.)

    Enjoy!

    Reply
  • 8. Jennie  |  October 22, 2007 at 6:11 am

    VegeYum, your tomato post is great — can’t wait to see the pepper one! I haven’t gone so far as to snack on mine yet, but I just might have to do that . :)

    Reply
  • 9. VegeYum  |  November 2, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    Hi Jennie, thought I would let you know that my peppers post will come out on the 5th around 8am (my time). I am never good at time/location conversions. I roughly know Hawaii’s time (yesterday + 4 hours), so if you are in the US maybe you are about 14-17 hours behind us? So that might make it around late afternoon or evening on the 4th your time?

    I so love that you introduced me to these. I am thinking that you might enjoy my photos.

    I went back to my stash of the peppers last night to have a snack – hey, they are still so sweet and taste even better having sat for 2 weeks. I will have to make another batch now – this time for use in cooking and powders.

    Reply
  • 10. Jennie  |  November 3, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Thanks for the update, VegeYum! I’ll definitely check out your post. Can’t wait to see what you’ve put together. I’m making another stash of the peppers myself with the last of what’s on the vines here…which are about to die as we got our first frost this week. Now it’s almost time for me to start using them in recipes since the fresh produce is drying up. :)

    Reply
  • 11. Satisfying a Craving « Straight from the Farm  |  January 10, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    [...] I thought I’d up the ante a bit by reaching even deeper into my dried preserves larder to use a few oven-dried sweet peppers. I hadn’t done anything other than pop a few in my mouth while I was bagging them up way back in [...]

    Reply
  • 12. Week 2 of Bread: Cheddar Pepper « Straight from the Farm  |  February 6, 2008 at 11:41 am

    [...] late in the summer last year, I was “gifted” with a big bag of leftover Lipstick Red Peppers at the end of our day at the Headhouse Market.  Really, if recollection serves me right, it felt [...]

    Reply
  • [...] Finally I found it, on the 10th blog that I searched. Thank you Straight from the Farm. I love your post on Peppers. [...]

    Reply
  • 14. Rosemary52  |  September 27, 2010 at 9:22 am

    I’m so glad I stumbled on your blog/posts on drying (have bookmarked the tomato one, too). I’ve been canning for a few years and have just gotten started on drying and I’m completely geeked. I’ve got plenty of reference books, but your pictures make everything much clearer (love those lipstick peppers, too). I have a big cooperative garden with about 10 members and we are always looking for new ways to use and preserve. Next year I plan to get a good dehydrator, but this year I think the gas oven will be good enough. Thanks for putting out this great information!

    Reply
  • 15. Aydan  |  October 16, 2010 at 7:22 am

    Thanks for making this post! It’s been really helpful to this suburban-woman-turned-city-woman.

    Question: if the peppers are sticky, does that mean they’re not completely dry?

    Reply
  • 16. leah  |  August 23, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Every time I dry it takes so much longer than anyone says. I put my peppers in (and tomatoes) 22 hours ago now.. still moist. Last year it took 2 days to oven dry my tomoatoes… weird, but it’s still good.

    Reply
  • [...] How to store them [...]

    Reply
  • 18. "at yahoo"  |  October 12, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    “at yahoo”

    “[...]5 There are some attention-grabbing time limits in this article however I don my[...]“

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  • 19. "agree with"  |  October 13, 2013 at 3:57 am

    “agree with”

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