Some raw peppers just don’t freeze well, no matter what the Interweb says. This occurred to me as I was squishing the moisture out of some defrosted aji amarillos, a thumb-length, orangey-yellow variety that’s hard to buy fresh in the Washington area.
I like to grab different peppers when I’m grocery shopping, because it increases my cooking options tenfold. There’s a good range of varieties at Asian and Latino markets, where they are cheap but often packaged by the small mound. That’s when I offload to friends, Costco-style (“need a 12-ounce jar of dried basil, Susan?”) or find room in the deep freeze.
I hardly ever use an entire bell pepper; finding modest-sized ones is becoming as tricky as tracking down the elusive small shallot. Cut bells last up to a week in the refrigerator, and that’s where I keep them to retain any of their crispness, because they are 92 percent water and won’t bounce back from zero-degree storage. By the way, did you know that purple ones have the same tang as the greens? Another fun fact: Not all green bell peppers will turn into red or other colors, and not all bell peppers start off green.
Freezing sweet or mild or bell peppers involves simple steps: Remove the stems, seeds and membranes; cut them as you like, then spread on a tray so they’re not touching each other; freeze till firm, then transfer to a freezer-safe zip-top bag with all the air pressed out or to a vacuum-sealed bag.
Hot peppers such as small jalapenos, serranos, habaneros, Thai/bird’s-eye and cayennes are better left whole. The good news here is that, especially once they’re cut, their skins will most likely slip off with the same ease as though they’d been charred and steamed. That’s what happens with the frozen aji amarillos, too.
Can we offer a few pepper preparations? You bet. But first . . . .
Readers are on the pizza trail, making two of the three Midwestern pies among the most-viewed options in our Recipe Finder:
1. Quad Cities-Style Pizza. Malt syrup, bread flour and dried seasonings give this pie’s crust a deep flavor and satisfying chew.
2. Dorie Greenspan’s Mediterranean Yogurt Cake. A sunny and easy loaf pan cake.
3. Detroit-Style Pizza. Buttery-tasting, with crisped edges.
4. African Soul Fried Rice. Michael Twitty’s colorful side or main dish is flavored with an African spice.
Get those peppers out of the freezer and make . . . .