Grow So Easy Organic: Recipes for Using The Sweetest Peppers

Bugs That Bug Peppers
Apparently, there are quite a few insects that can do damage to peppers.  In my zone, I haven’t had any problems with insect damage on my peppers until this year.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Halyomorpha halys ...

Stink bugs come in a lot of flavors but this is the one I battle – the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Halyomorpha halys (Stal) (Photo credit: Armed Forces Pest Management Board)

Because stink bugs have become so prolific, I have started having damage on all my vegetable plants, including peppers.  As with all insect pests, I use as many organic methods as possible to control them.

Tachinid wasps help.  Hand picking and crushing work, too.  But the key to controlling insects on peppers is the same as it is on most other garden pests.  You have to get ahead of the bug population by spotting and crushing the eggs before they hatch into nymphs.

One tip if you’re working with stink bugs (or any beetles) – go out early in the morning to catch and kill. Spread a white pillow case or piece of fabric under the each plant and shake the pepper plant.  The stink bugs will drop onto the fabric and you can crush them or scoop them up and drop them into soapy dishwater.

Stink bugs aren’t the only bugs that bug peppers.  Other pests include the European corn borer, pepper maggot, aphids, thrips, spider mites and even the cucumber beetle.

The University of Florida provides a comprehensive list of pepper pests including illustrations.  Although this list is specific to Florida, the same bugs have been slowly wending their way up the East coast so they are probably either  in your garden already or going to make an appearance, soon.

Pepper Diseases
I also haven’t had many problems with diseases in my peppers.  But there are a handful of diseases that can affect these sun-loving plants.  Many of them are common to tomatoes, which is not surprising because peppers and tomatoes are related – both are members of the Solanaceae family.

Diseases include bacterial leaf spot, phytophthora blight, anthracnose and viruses. It helps to try to choose resistant varieties of peppers, which agricultural experts say is the most effective management strategy for controlling diseases.

Like tomatoes, blossom end rot is a common affliction in sweet peppers and it’s directly correlated to a calcium deficiency. This disease can be made even more deadly if your pepper plants experience long dry periods because calcium uptake only occurs via osmosis.

Blossom end rot starts as a water-soaked lesion on the bottom (blossom end) or side of the pepper fruit wall. Eventually the lesion becomes discolored and papery dry, making the fruit vulnerable to insects and inedible.

Recipes
Stuffed peppers never made my list of favorites and I hadn’t really thought of any way to cook and serve peppers until I married into an Italian family.  Over the last 30 years I have been perfecting my pepper recipes and want to share a two of my favorites.

RECIPE:  Scalloppine Sauce
No need to crack open a cook book or worry about how hard it will be to make this dish.  This is the easiest, fastest and tastiest way I know to let the flavor of your vegetables speak for you (and use up the last of the tomatoes and sweet peppers hanging out in your kitchen).  If this Irish woman married to an Italian man can do it, so can you.

INGREDIENTS
Chop about 30 peppers into large pieces.  NOTE:  I do not peel my peppers but you can if you don’t want strands of pepper skin in your Scalloppine.
Cut 6 to 8 cups of onions into rough pieces.
Dice up 30 to 40 tomatoes.
Mince 4 big cloves of garlic.

DIRECTIONS:
Dump all the ingredients into a large pot.
Add a dollop (make that a cup) of olive oil.
Put the whole concoction on the stove to simmer on a very low flame.
Let this brew/cook down for 14 to 16 hours.

The vegetables should reduce by about 1/3 rd while cooking down.  If your batch is still a little loose, just let it cook for another 4 to 6 hours. When the sauce is as thick as you’d like it to be, you can start canning.
Ladle it into quart jars.
Use a non reactive tool to remove any air bubbles.
Process quarts for 25 minutes.
Turn off heat, remove canner lid and let jars rest in water for 5 minutes.
Remove, cool for 24 hours.  Remove rims, label and store.

I usually get about 8 quarts of fabulous sauce.  You can fry up sausage and add the sauce to it for a fast and fabulous Italian dinner.

RECIPE:  Hot & Sweet Italian Pepper Relish
I created this recipe myself and have to say it is really tasty – great flavors from all the veggies and just the right kick of heat from the peppers.

INGREDIENTS:
13 or 14 Italian sweet peppers
3 to 4 large sweet onions
1 c cider vinegar
1 c olive oil
½ c sugar
1 T mustard seed
1 tsp salt
2 tsp celery seed
1 T oregano
2 clove garlic – minced
1 T basil
1 tsp red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS:
Core and seed peppers.
Chop onions and peppers into ¼ to ½ inch pieces – use a food processor to make this easier and faster.
Put onions and peppers into large, non reactive pot.
Pour in vinegar and oil and bring mixture to a simmer.
Slowly stir in sugar, mustard and celery seed, oregano, basil, salt and red pepper flakes.
Continue to cook on a very low flame for 1 ½ to 2 hours stirring every 15 or 20 minutes.
When the relish is thick, ladle into jars.  Use a non reactive tool to remove any air bubbles.
Process pints for 20 minutes.
Turn off heat, remove canner lid and let jars rest in water for 5 minutes.
Remove, cool for 24 hours.  Remove rims, label and store.

Both of these recipes beat Stuffed Peppers by a mile in the taste department and you can use them all winter long to spice up your sauces, soups and stews.

If you like your peppers hot…check out Jovina Cooks Italian for some great information and some more recipes!

Next week, another perennial garden favorite — Zucchini and other summer squash!

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One response to “Grow So Easy Organic: Recipes for Using The Sweetest Peppers

  1. Pingback: How To Grow The Sweetest Peppers | Grow So Easy Organic

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