Freezing is an important technique for preserving ripe, in-season fruits and vegetables. Bell peppers are among the easiest types of produce to freeze. For starters, you do not need to blanch them before you freeze them, which makes the process a lot easier. You can also use frozen bell peppers in many of the same ways that you use them when fresh; however, remember that they can lose their crispness after thawing. As a result, they are better for cooked preparations rather than raw ones. Add them to your soups, stews, and to chili.
Freezing bell peppers may seem simple, but you will need to follow the right steps to make the process as efficient as possible. The step-by-step below will ensure that the peppers taste their best after thawing and that they retain both their color and their flavor.
1. Inspect your peppers for signs of mold and for soft spots. Separate these peppers and cut away the blemishes. If possible, use them immediately as they may not stand up to freezing.
2. Use your chef’s knife or a paring knife to core the peppers. You can compost the unusable parts such as the stems, pith and seeds.
3. Next, you will want to get the peppers to an appropriate size for freezing. If you want rings, cut them across or right down the center for strips. Whatever shape you prefer, you can freeze them that way to make it easier to use them in the future.
If you want to use your bell peppers for stuffed peppers, you will have to keep them whole. Cut the tops off, get as many of the seeds out as you can and then replace the tops. Keep in mind that freezing bell peppers whole takes up a lot of room in your freezer. Another tip when making stuffed peppers is to place the stuffing inside the peppers before you thaw them. This does not affect the finished dish and actually makes them easier to stuff.
4. Rinse the peppers thoroughly to get rid of any leftover seeds, then dry them with a towel. Freezer burn is a potential issue; getting them completely dry helps to reduce the risk.
5. Scatter the peppers on a cookie sheet and place them in the freezer. This step allows each piece to freeze individually and keeps them from sticking together when you store them in the freezer. Another benefit from this is that you can remove exactly the amount that you need without having to thaw a whole batch. Remember to position them so that the pieces are not touching each other when you freeze them on the cookie sheet. It should take about 20 minutes to freeze them.
6. Place your frozen pepper pieces in freezer-safe containers with as little empty space as possible. If you are using freezer bags, squeeze and roll to eliminate air. The more empty space you have, the more likely freezer burn becomes.
7. Label the containers and place them in the coldest part of your freezer. Remember that they may succumb to freezer burn even if you followed all the tips above; use them before they get to that point. Ideally, you will want to use your frozen peppers within 8 months to get the most nutritional value and flavor from them.