Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Bounty of Peppers

For several years now, red bell peppers have been an important crop for my garden. There has been a vogue for purple, yellow, and even "chocolate" peppers, but to me, a ripe pepper can be any color as long as it is red. We eat them fresh, but I've learned to roast and peel them for freezing or pickling, so I've dedicated a noticeable fraction of the garden to them.

This has also entailed a search for the best variety. This year I tried three. From left to right: Crispy (Burpee), Maxibelle (Burpee), and Karma (Park). Note that "Crispy" and "Maxibelle" are both the yield on one day from one row of 5 plants; "Karma" is the yield from two rows. I keep on growing Karma because the fruits are big, blocky, and thick-walled. But they take a long time to grow and ripen. I've noticed in the past that I was picking red fruit from Crispy before any coloring on Karma at all. This year I tried for a third choice with Maxibelle. But contrary to the name, the fruit is no bigger than Crispy's, and the yield appears inferior. (Since these were photographed, the plants have now borne a new crop of red fruit ready to pick.) So the answer to the Desert Island question is apparently Crispy. Still, I'll probably continue to plant Karma. The fruit really is more impressive than this photograph shows.

Then the real punishment: an afternoon and early evening spent cutting, roasting (broiling) till the skin blisters, and peeling. The resulting slabs of pepper essence can be used in salads or cooking and I'll now be freezing them in small portions to use all winter. From the fruit shown above, I prepared 3 1/2 pounds of finished peppers.

1 comment:

Buttercup said...

And they are also wonderful just as is on sandwiches.