Preserving Peppers

Submitted by: Margot Myers, BFM Board President and owner, Margotbianca Bellingham Farmers Market

Can you believe that we still have sweet peppers late into October? If you’ve ever tried growing peppers in Whatcom County, you’ll know that harvesting them this time of year is a result of a grower’s dedication and hard work that began in early spring. We’re just at the end of the season for this delicious vegetable, so be sure to stop by the market this week for your last chance to enjoy them this year.

There are a handful of farmers who are harvesting sweet peppers right now. I got some Carmen peppers last week from Meghan at Broadleaf Farms. This variety is one of my favorites because it has a wonderful sweet, aromatic flavor, very few seeds, and a thick wall, which means there’s lots of meat left once they’re roasted and peeled. Of course sweet peppers are wonderful fresh, sauteed or in soups, but roasting is by far my favorite way to enjoy them. The aroma and flavor are great added to so many of our comfort foods for fall. I bought a box of these, and used them to make a delicious ketchup that I can enjoy all year. I’ll share my recipe with you:

red peppers from Broadleaf FarmsRoasted Pepper Ketchup

  • 5-8 sweet red peppers
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 cooking apple, cored but not skinned
  • 1 pear, cored but not skinned
  • 1 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup honey
  • ½ cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves, or 3 T dried basil
  • 1 sliced up lemon
  • 1 cardamom seed
  • 2 T black pepper
  • sprig of fresh oregano
  • 1 T mustard seed


  1. Roast the peppers, onion and garlic. I roast the peppers until the skins seperate from the meat, but pull them out of the oven before they turn black. Peel and seed the peppers once they are cool.
  2. Peel and halve the onion. Roast until softened and dark on top. Cut the top off the garlic head and drizzle with a dab of oil. Squeeze the roasted garlic out once it’s roasted, softened and cooled. Chop the peppers and onions into chunks and add all three to a large stockpot.
  3. Chop the fruit up and add it to the stockpot. Then, add the following ingredients: apple cider vinnegar, honey, molasses, salt and basil. Mix all of these ingredients together well.
  4. Begin heating the stockpot.
  5. Make a spice packet out of cheesecloth or a tea bag and the lemon, cardamon seed, black pepper, oregano and mustard seed.
  6. Put the spice packet in the ketchup mixture.
  7. Bring the pot to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the mixture is soft and syrupy.
  8. Remove the spice packet.
  9. Use a stick blender or food processor to puree the mixture.
  10. Transfer the ketchup to a slow cooker turned on low heat. Leave the lid off and allow the ketchup to cook for at least a day while all of the excess moisture evaporates. Stir ocassionally. Once the ketchup is as thick as you’d like, pour it into jars to refrigerate, can or freeze forlong term storage.