The grasses are turning brassy, the chirping of the crickets has taken on a new timbre, and suddenly you realize: fall is practically here and the CSA season is practically over! We’ve already mostly said goodbye to the tomatoes, and while the other heat-loving crops will keep pumping out food for a little longer, the cooler, shorter days will really start to favor the greens and root crops soon. Hopefully you’ve already canned or at least enjoyed your fill of tomatoes, but how to prolong your enjoyment of some of summer’s lower acid crops? One option is to buy a pressure canner, but if you’re partial to the hot water bath canning method, you have options there too. I decided I wanted to can some roasted red peppers, as an antipasto for myself and as a homemade christmas gift, so I’m sharing that recipe. Below is the recipe and process- if you’ve never canned before, you should familiarize yourself with the details first, just about any canning book will walk you through it, or see http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/348/348-594/348-594.html.
Adapted From: Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry, by Liana Krissoff
4 pounds red bell peppers (about 10) (* I used two 9×14 cookie sheets worth and ended up with about 4 quarts. The long red Italia peppers would work well here too)
1 cup bottled or strained fresh lemon juice
2 cups white wine vinegar (6% acidity)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
I roasted the peppers in two batches, turning them as they blistered. The less burnt they are, the easier the skin will be to remove. Also, the sturdier/less cooked they are, the better they’ll hold up in the hot water canner, so only roast enough to separate the skin from the flesh. Once all sides were blistered enough, I put them into a paper bag and rolled it shut, which also helps the peeling process (anything that makes the peeling easier is worth doing, as that is the most time-consuming step)
The next step is peeling and removing the seeds and stem- the longer you can keep the stem attached, the easier it will be to peel the pepper. The peeling stage is a great time to put on your favorite musical playlist, pour yourself a drink, and think about how much you really love your friends. If they’re not already torn up, rip the peppers into large sections once they’re peeled.
Now you’re ready to combine the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan and heat the mixture just to boiling. Take your hot canning jars out of the oven or dishwasher or canner, pack the pepper pieces in, and ladle the hot liquid in, leaving a half inch of headspace at the top. Take care to remove all the air bubbles by running a knife or chopstick around the inside of each jar. Use a damp cloth to wipe the rim of each jar clean- any oil left here will make it difficult for a seal to form. Cap the jars with two piece canning lids (I use plastic reusable lids- this is my second season using them, and they’re great). Lower into your boiling water, and process for 15 minutes. When processing is done, remove jars to a towel and try not to disturb them for 12 hours- however, lightly test the seal after 1 hour, and if there are any jars that haven’t sealed, refrigerate them immediately and use those first.
So there you have it- a little slice of summer in a jar, just waiting to transport you out of the deepest dreary depths of winter. Great with some fresh mozzarella, pureed in a soup, or substituted or added to tomatoes in a sauce. Questions? E-mail or FB us, or come on out to the farm- we’d love to see you!