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Food Safety & Preservation

Latest food safety and preservation information from Cook County Extension
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Bell Peppers: Using Fresh or Freezing at Home

Posted by Ron Wolford -

One of the most popular peppers in the United States is the bell pepper. According to Jananne Finck, nutrition and wellness educator with University of Illinois Extension, Springfield Center, peppers are available in a variety of colors. They can be green, red, yellow, orange, brown or purple, depending on the variety and ripeness.

When analyzing the nutrient content, one large green bell pepper is only 22 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrate, has no fat or cholesterol and contains only 13 milligrams of sodium. The Vitamin C content is high too.

If you have an abundance of peppers from your garden, store them unwashed in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. Keeping time in the refrigerator is up to one week. Rinse peppers with cold water just before using.

Use sweet peppers in salads, as a holder for a variety of fillings, or add to other cooked vegetables such as green beans, zucchini, squash, corn or asparagus.

If desired, peppers may be frozen. To freeze, select crisp, tender, green or bright red pods. Wash, cut out stem, cut in half and remove seeds. Peppers may be cut into one half inch strips or rings. If the peppers are to be used in cooked dishes, water-blanch halves 3 minutes, strips or rings 2 minutes. Cool promptly, drain and package, leaving one half inch head space. Seal, label and freeze. If the peppers are to be used in uncooked foods, package them raw, leaving no headspace. Seal, label and freeze.

Spinach-Stuffed Peppers

3 green, red or yellow peppers

2 tablespoons water

1 pkg. (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach

one half cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon margarine or butter

one half teaspoon salt

one half teaspoon pepper

one fourth teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup seeded, chopped tomato

one fourth cup shredded mozzarella cheese

one third cup seasoned dry bread crumbs

Cut each pepper in half lengthwise; remove seeds. In a 10-inch casserole, arrange peppers, cut-sides up. Sprinkle with water. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on High for 6 to 8 minutes, or until tender-crisp, rearranging once. Drain. Set aside. Microwave spinach on high for 2 to 4 minutes, or until defrosted. Drain, pressing to remove excess moisture. Set aside.

Combine onion, margarine, salt, pepper and garlic powder in 2-quart casserole. Cover. Microwave on High for 3 to 4 minutes, or until onions are tender, stirring once. Add spinach, tomato and breadcrumbs to onion mixture. Mix well. Spoon spinach mixture evenly into peppers. Recover. Microwave on High 4 to 6 minutes or until peppers are tender and spinach mixture is hot. Sprinkle cheese evenly over peppers. Microwave on High 1 and one half to 2 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Yield: 6 servings

Nutrient Analysis Per Serving: 100 calories, 5 grams protein, 15 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fat, 3 milligrams cholesterol, and 456 milligrams sodium.

Source: Jananne Finck, Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness, finckj@uiuc.edu



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