Canned sweet peppers

Last summer I wanted to preserve some roasted sweet peppers by canning. I followed the method where you roast them, remove the skins and seeds, and then water bath canned them in a vinegar/water solution with salt and a little oil. I just opened a jar the other day and they taste blah. A acrid weird taste that just makes them inedible. Was it the oil, water bath canning, or roasting that did that? What is the right way to preserve roasted peppers? Freezing or canning?

Christine Cornwell
Bush, Louisiana

Roasted peppers are great frozen. But they are also very good canned. I don’t pickle my sweet peppers as it sounds like you tried to do. I’m wondering if your canning method was incorrect. Did you follow an approved method or another you picked up somewhere? None of mine have oil as an added ingredient.

I can my roasted peppers by first roasting and seeding the peppers, peeling the skins off. Then I pack them in half-pint jars (or pints if you use a lot at a time), leaving 1 inch of headspace. Add 1/4 tsp. salt (if you wish) and 1/2 tsp. vinegar or lemon juice (improves flavor). Wipe rim of jar clean; place hot, previously simmered lid on jar and screw down ring firmly tight. Process pints and half-pints at 10 pounds pressure for 35 minutes. If you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet, consult your canning book for directions on increasing your pressure to suit your altitude.

I would be leery of eating those peppers you canned, especially if you did not follow an approved method. — Jackie

Mold in houseplants

I have trouble with indoor plants and mold. Be they potted plants or seeds started indoors, I always seem to grow a fuzzy white mold along with my plants. I have considered that they may be overwatered, and gone to great lengths to avoid this, sometimes allowing things to dry out completely and regularly if the houseplant can withstand, but to no avail. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s dirt, potting soil, premixed growing medium — they always get that fuzzy white mold. Do you have any tips to avoid this? Is it really all that bad anyway?

Julia
Frenchtown, New Jersey

I’ve found that this white mold is usually a pretty harmless fungus. It’s usually caused by keeping the pots/flats too moist or having high humidity in your house. But it’s often coming in on commercial potting soil. It’s supposed to be sterile, but I sure got a bunch this year, using Miracle Gro potting soil for my transplants. It doesn’t harm anything, but does look ugly. You can gently scrape the top layer of soil off, removing the mold, then sit the pots/flats in the sun and watch the watering. Mine goes away after doing this. — Jackie

Growing asparagus

Our asparagus is doing great this year. However I have missed some of the sprouts and they have ferned. Should I leave them or snap them off and compost them? I know I let them go at the end of harvest but didn’t know what to do now!

William Burgan
Clear Spring, Maryland

If they are small in diameter, just leave them. But if the stems are larger, cut them off below the soil with a sharp knife so that the plant will continue to produce asparagus. If too many ferns are allowed to develop, the plant figures it’s done its job and will quit sending up spears. If there are just a couple ferns that are small in diameter it won’t stop the plant from producing more spears. — Jackie

2 COMMENTS

  1. Angela,

    I checked out the link you posted and the recipe does not contain water as Christine’s did. The amount of water could have reduced the acidity allowing the peppers to flat-sour which is a nasty tasting form of spoilage.
    I’ve roasted and canned a whole lot of peppers of all kinds and have never found that roasting or failure to get the skins off (I often can many kinds with the skins intact.) would cause any off flavors.

  2. There is a tested recipe from the NCHFP for water-bath canning peppers that uses oil, though I’m not sure whether that’s the one Christine used: http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_06/marinated_peppers.html. I’ve had excellent results with that recipe. The canned peppers keep well and are very tasty, so I am inclined to think the oil and water-bath processing are not the problem, unless you were to accidentally use oil that had gone bad, or didn’t follow the tested recipe.

    However, I did have something similar to what Christine describes happen with a Ball recipe for roasted red pepper spread (http://www.freshpreserving.com/recipe.aspx?r=60); I used red bell peppers and for some reason that batch turned out inedibly bitter and acrid. So that does make me wonder whether there’s something to do with the roasting (maybe not managing to get all the skin off?) or the peppers themselves that can cause that particular off taste.

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