There are a lot of ways to preserve red peppers. You can pickle them, which is nice, but a little limiting; pickled sweet peppers are good for an appetizer, but little else. Once you roast the peppers, however, things change. Roasted peppers are a delight. I use them as appetizers like the pickled peppers, but also in sauces, stews and simply draped over roasted or grilled meat. This preservation method is inspired by an obscure English book by Nora Carey called Perfect Preserves. Carey uses a hybrid pickling, sott’olio method to keep her peppers delicious through her British winters. I’ve adapted it a little to reflect the hotter California climate.
Roast your peppers. Ideally this is over a smoky wood fire, on a grill. Second choice is a gas grill, third an open burner on a stove. Alternatively, arrange your peppers on a broiling pan and broil them. No matter what your heating method, you will need to turn your peppers from time to time as the skins char and blacken. When the peppers are mostly blackened, remove them to a paper grocery bag and roll up the bag to seal in the steam. You want to steam the peppers in their own juices. Let the bag sit for 20 to 40 minutes.
After the peppers have cooled enough to handle, take them out one at a time and remove the skins, stems and seeds. Do not run the peppers under water, as this robs them of flavor. Once each pepper is cleaned — get as many seeds out as you can — drop it in a bowl. Do all the peppers before proceeding.
Once all the peppers are cleaned and in the bowl, get a shallow bowl or small casserole pan and pour in some vinegar. I use red wine, cider or sherry vinegar for red peppers (sherry when I want them to be Spanish, cider for Portuguese, red wine for Italian or Greek) and white wine for green peppers. Dredge each pepper through the vinegar a few times to get it good and coated. Place it in another bowl. Do this for all the peppers.
Sprinkle the bowl of peppers with kosher salt. Gently mix the peppers together like a salad. Sprinkle a little more salt and repeat. Sprinkle a little salt into the bowl with the pepper juice — the original bowl.
Gather canning jars and pour a little vinegar into each one; enough to cover the bottom of the jar. Pack in the peppers, leaving 1 to 2 inches of space at the top. Use a butter knife or chopstick to run down the sides of the jars, releasing air bubbles. You will notice the level of liquid drop. Fill it with the salted pepper juice — but still leave room at the top of the jar.
Once the air is out to the best of your ability and the vinegar-pepper juice it right at the top of the level of the peppers, pour in olive oil on top of everything to a depth of 1/4 inch. Screw the lids on the jars and you’re done. No sealing needed. These peppers will last a year in the refrigerator, although they will soften over time.
I find about 8 red bell peppers fills the two pints, but obviously other peppers are of different sizes, so adjust accordingly. Better to have too many -- you can eat them as a snack or for dinner that night. These peppers are also integral to my all-time favorite wild game stew, a Spanish recipe called chilindron.