Jul 6, 2023
Bell pepper is a wonderful aromatic, which is sometimes classified as a spice. This is because it doesn’t belong to the chili pepper family, but there’s one difference. It doesn’t have heat. Due to its genetic anomaly, bell pepper doesn’t produce capsaicin. This is the compound that makes chili peppers hot. Fortunately for us, nature provided us with a produce that gives us a peppery aroma minus the heat. However, bell peppers don’t have a long shelf life. Uncut, it can last about one week unrefrigerated. If cut, you only have 3 days to use it. Here’s how to freeze dry bell pepper so you can have it ready whenever you need it.
With all the choices of bell pepper in the grocery and farmer’s market, it’s hard to choose which one! But let’s make it simple. All you need to do is check three things.
A fresh, scrumptious bell pepper is one that has firm, shiny skin. It will yield to some pressure but will stay in shape. Avoid peppers that have wrinkly, shriveled skin.
A good aromatic is one that’s heavy for its size, just like a cantaloupe or pineapple. If it feels light, it means it’s not yet mature and won’t give you the best flavor.
Choose one that has a vibrant color, whether it’s red, yellow, or green. The color should be even throughout the pepper. There should be no spotting, yellowing, or browning.
The stem should be green in color. This usually indicates the health of your bell pepper, so if it’s green, firm, and succulent, it means the produce is fresh.
There’s a myth that the lobes or segments of the bell pepper indicate sweetness. That is not true. The riper the bell pepper is, the sweeter it will be.
Green bell peppers have that mildly sweet, slightly bitter taste. Which is why they’re perfect for cooking savory dishes, salsas, and relishes.
Red bell peppers, on the other hand, have a sweeter taste. Its flowery undertones makes them ideal for stir-fries, salads, soups, and sauces.
Preparing bell pepper for freeze-drying is easy. There are just some things you need to note that are simple to do. Your only challenge will be how much bell peppers you will prepare!
Cleanliness is of utmost importance in food preservation. Keep in mind that a freeze-dryer makes your food shelf-stable, but it doesn’t sanitize it. Microbes can still live after being freeze-dried. It’s even used to increase the shelf life of vaccines and other injectables.
This means if you preserve your unclean bell pepper, you’re also preserving the microbes. Once the dormant microorganisms touch moisture and oxygen, they will come alive again and cause problems.
Clean the bell pepper by washing it thoroughly under running water. A bowl of clean water will also work. Just remember to change the water when you see it cloud or have debris at the bottom. When you’re done, set the bell pepper aside to dry out excess moisture.
After washing and drying, you need to take out the core of your bell pepper. The core carries the seeds that are difficult to freeze dry. It also contains a bitter membrane that can ruin a dish.
There are several ways to de-core a bell pepper, with some of them more complicated than the next. If you want to keep the bell pepper hole, use a paring knife to cut around the crown. If you’re not concerned about saving as much flesh as possible, slice off the top completely. However, we’re yet to see someone freeze-dry a bell pepper whole. Your freeze-dryer needs as much surface are as it can to draw out moisture. A whole pepper will limit its efficiency so do this cautiously.
If you plan to dice, slice, or mince your aromatic, then here’s a simple way. Lay the bell pepper lengthwise on your chopping board. Use a kitchen knife or a chef’s knife to cut through the pepper in half from top to bottom. Hold the pepper with one hand and use your other hand to pull out the core along with the stem. Take out as much of the white membrane as you can so you’re left with a pepper that has a clean flavor.
Cutting the bell pepper down to size will help you speed up the process. It will also help you save on prep time in emergency situations. You can cube the peppers into chunks, slice them into long strips, or mince them into small pieces.
Pre-freezing is optional, especially with the new software version. However, it will help cut out a portion of your freeze-drying time. If you plan to pre-freeze, consider:
Once you got everything ready, freeze-drying is as simple as a touch of a few buttons. Since there are still some with the old software version, we’ll teach you two ways to do it.
Depending on several conditions, freeze drying can take about as much as 36-42 hours. It will also take longer if you’re busy with other stuff and have to extend the final dry.
You’ll know that they’re done when the pieces are crisp, dry, and airy. If any of the pieces feel cool, moist, and soft, put the trays back for 2-3 hours of extra dry time.
Rehydrating is simple and easy. For a cup of freeze-dried bell pepper, you’ll need at least 2-3 tbsp of warm water. Mix it around so that every piece will get moisture. Cover and let it stand for 5-10 minutes. It will take longer when you’re using cold water.
If you’re adding the freeze-dried bell pepper to soups and sauces, no need to rehydrate. Just add a bit more water if you see that the meal is a bit dry or thick.
Stored properly, your freeze dried bell pepper can last 25-30 years without refrigeration. AS long as you store it in ideal conditions, you’re all good.
Freeze-drying bell peppers is a great way to make the most out of your harvest. It will also justify you grabbing that amazing deal at the grocery store and farmer’s market! It saves you time in prepping and also helps in lessening food waste.
What kind of bell pepper do you plan to freeze dry? Let us know in the comment section.
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