Having frozen green peppers on hand is a convenient way to incorporate more vegetables into soups, stir-fries and other dishes. While you can't freeze a whole green pepper, you can freeze sliced or chopped peppers for future use.
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Green peppers are usually available year-round in most grocery stores, but their peak season lasts from July to September. Bell peppers are considered in-season during fall and summer, according to the USDA. During this time, you can freeze green bell peppers when they are most ripe.
Eating seasonal produce is fresher, more flavorful and more nutritious, and freezing peppers at peak ripeness can preserve some of that flavor and nutrition. Eating seasonal food may also be more sustainable, according to August 2014 research in The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society.
Do You Need to Blanch Green Peppers?
Blanching vegetables — the process of scalding vegetables in boiling water or hot steam for a short duration — is a common practice before freezing them, per the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Blanching is recommended prior to freezing most vegetables as it helps to preserve flavor, texture and color. Blanching also helps to get rid of dirt and bacteria on the surface of vegetables and softens them, making them easier to pack into freezer-safe storage containers.
After blanching, the vegetables must be cooled to prevent them from cooking for too long. To do this, plunge the blanched vegetables into a large pot of cold water, preferably with ice. You can also run them under cold water. It only takes about 2 to 3 minutes to blanch bell peppers, followed by another 2 to 3 minutes of cooling them.
New York-based celebrity chef Jamie Hunt says blanching bell peppers before freezing them is optional.
"Peppers are one of the few vegetables that can be frozen without blanching them initially," Hunt explains. "They are made of about 90 percent water, so freezing unblanched green peppers allows it to retain its natural water. This encourages crisp, crunchy peppers after unthawing."
Freezing peppers from raw yields similar results as blanching them. Because blanching requires extra time and materials, freezing green peppers without blanching is a quicker and simpler process.
How to Freeze Green Peppers Without Blanching
Hunt recommends the following method of freezing unblanched, raw bell peppers.
Things You'll Need
Green bell peppers
Step 1: Wash Your Hands and Peppers
Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds. Rinse the green bell peppers under running water. Pat dry with a kitchen towel.
Step 2: Remove the Core
Use a sharp chef's knife to remove the core of the peppers. The stems, pithy membranes, and seeds can be discarded or composted.
Step 3: Cut the Peppers
Cut the bell peppers in half on a cutting board. Remove any remaining pieces of white pith from the inside of the peppers. Run the pepper halves under water to rinse away any remaining seeds.
Step 4: Dry Them
Dry the peppers with a kitchen towel. Be sure to remove any excess moisture as this could cause freezer burn.
Step 5: Chop Them
Chop or slice the green peppers to the desired size and shape. Rings or slices are recommended. Pat dry with a towel to soak up excess moisture.
Step 6: Prepare to Freeze Peppers
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper to flash-freeze the peppers.
Evenly spread out the chopped or sliced green peppers on the lined baking sheet. This step is important because vegetables that are touching during the freezing process can lead to clumping, making it difficult to separate the peppers later.
The Mayo Clinic recommends this method of flash freezing as it stops the produce from degrading, resulting in more nutrient retention.
Step 7: Freeze Them
Place the green peppers in the freezer for about 1 1/2 hours.
Step 8: Pack Them
Remove the peppers from the freezer and transfer them to a freezer-safe container labeled with the date. An airtight container is the best way to keep peppers fresh. Minimize the amount of empty space in the container as the air can contribute to freezer burn.
Step 9: Freeze Again
Return the peppers to the freezer, where they will retain their quality and freshness for up to 4 months.
- USDA: "Seasonal Produce Guide"
- The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society: "Seasonality and dietary requirements: will eating seasonal food contribute to health and environmental sustainability?"
- National Center for Home Food Preservation: "How Do I? Freeze"
- Mayo Clinic: "Mayo Clinic Minute: Benefits of flash-frozen produce"