My sweet banana peppers are very prolific this year. One garden bed has been coming in heavy for weeks and the other one, which I planted later is just starting to get little peppers on the plants. Needless to say, I will not be hurting for peppers this winter. What I may be needing more of is storage. We only have one chest freezer, so I decided to put up a bunch of peppers by dehydrating them. It's easy and drastically cuts down on the amount of storage space needed!
During the course of a week, I picked the peppers every other day. By the end of the week, I had a large bag of peppers to clean, so I popped in a movie, and sat down with a cutting board, a gallon bag and a garbage can. A couple hours later I had that bag completely full of sliced peppers.
I remember licking my fingers and being surprised that my tongue started burning like I had been cutting up hot peppers. I almost had a stroke thinking that they were hot instead of sweet banana peppers. But then I remembered that I had pickled some peppers a couple weeks earlier and they were not hot. I was completely stumped. How could they be sweet before and hot now? I posed this question on a Facebook group I belong to and someone asked me back if I had any hot peppers planted near the sweet peppers. It seems that if you plant hot peppers near sweet peppers, they can cross pollinate and the seeds in the sweet peppers end up hot, even though the pepper is still sweet. However, if you save the seeds and plant them the next year, you will get hot peppers.
I love the 9 huge square trays this dehydrator has and the 26 hour timer. It also has an adjustable thermostat so you can choose your temperature.
One of the best things about it is that the big, 7 inch fan is in the back, instead of on the bottom. It dehydrates evenly instead of drying the bottom racks to a crisp and hardly drying the top few racks at all.
I was surprised that it only took about 9 hours to dehydrate these peppers. My old dehydrator would have taken at least 12 to 14 and I don't think it would have held all these peppers. After letting them cool completely, I put them in a mason jar.
It never ceases to amaze me how much the size of goods shrink when dehydrated. This was almost a whole gallon bag of pepper slices and it shrunk down to half a quart jar. Oh, they are all still there, just add water and they will be back to full size.
When I get done filling the jar, I will drop in an oxygen absorber, screw the lid on and put it in my basement canning room with the rest of my preserved food.
Oxygen absorbers are small sealed packets of iron powder. Somehow, they remove the oxygen from a sealed container, leaving nothing but nitrogen, which lengthens the shelf life without using additives and also prevents spoilage, including mold. All this for only 7 cents a package.
Tomorrow, I am making cold pack pickles, that should be an adventure! I will let you know how it goes.
Have a great weekend!