Thursday, August 30, 2012

Peppers "Real Food" Eating- on a Budget

I wish I could pick which 12 top the dirty dozen.  If I could, you had better believe peppers would not be on it.  We love peppers around here.  Not a day goes by that a pepper doesn't appear in one of our meals or snacks so when I realized they were something we were going to buy organically, I began to panic a little.  I don't know when the last time was that you priced an organic pepper, but at my local grocery store they are right around $4 for one.  I find it really difficult, if not impossible, to bring myself to spend that on a tiny little pepper.  The time had come to search for a frugal solution. 

In Season-  As much as I would love to have my own garden, I do not, so the next best solution for us is our local Farmer's Market.   To technically have the "Certified Organic" stamp of approval,  a farmer has to pay a fee. Many of the small, independent farms don't have the means to do so, but are practicing "organic" methods so in theory, you are getting an organic product.  Of course, not all the produce at a farmer's market would be considered organic so don't be afraid to ask.  Most farmers are more than willing to share the information with you.  Plus, you are "shaking the hands that feed you." 

Out of Season-  We have decided we will not be spending $4 on a pepper out of season so I have been busy freezing peppers for the winter.  It's an investment of time now, but I am looking forward to pulling a bag of pre-sliced peppers out of the freezer come winter.  I will not lie to you and pretend that a frozen pepper has the same property values as a fresh pepper.  A pepper that has been frozen tends to take on a soft, almost mushy texture. Luckily, most of the peppers we eat in the winter will be in something so you will likely not even notice the difference.  The good news is, from a nutritional standpoint, you are still doing pretty well with a frozen pepper. Especially considering produce from the grocery store in the middle of winter is often shipped long distances and tends to loose much of it's nutrients before it reaches the store.

This year, I really lucked out and was able to buy all of my peppers for the winter from a local Amish grocery store.  They were home grown, chemical free, and dirt cheap.  I walked away with 43 peppers for $14.  That is about 33 cents a pepper!  Had I purchased them all organically throughout the winter, I would have spent around $172.
I was so thankful for my food processor and the handy attachments that came with it.  It saved me a ton of time and effort! 

There is really no trick to freezing them.  First I washed them, dried them, and cut out the stem and core.  From there I cut them according to the recipes I plan to use them in and measured accordingly.  It did take me all day and my kitchen needed a good scrubbing after, but it was well worth the savings in my opinion.  Bring on the snow....  did I just say that out loud?...
Ready for the Freezer!
A nice addition for our compost bin. 

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