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We eat a lot of sweet peppers, but the children (like a lot of kids) don't like the bitter skins. So when I cook with them, I usually try and skin them.

After a lot of trial and error, I found the best way is to put the peppers, raw and whole, into the oven and roast them until the skins are blistering. Then plunge them into cold water and pull the skin off with my fingers.

However, while this seems the best method, it's hardly foolproof. It still seems very hard to judge when the peppers are ready to skin. Get them out too early and the skin is still stuck to the flesh. But if you leave it too long, the skin seems to almost weld to the flesh, with the same result.

You can buy jars of perfect, ready-skinned roasted peppers. So it's obviously possible to do this with a high degree of accuracy. What signs do I need to look for to tell me when a roasting pepper is ready to skin?

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Once roasted, rather than immediately plunging into cold water, place the peppers in a container with a tight fitting lid, or a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Let them steam for 15–20 minutes or until they cool. This will help the skins come off more easily.

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If you have a gas cooktop, you can put bell peppers directly on the burner to blister them. You will need to turn them every few minutes but they will blister quickly. Then steam them in a covered bowl until cool. The high heat will generally blister the skin without cooking the flesh. If you don't have a gas cooktop, you can do the same with a gas grill. I haven't tried it but I would think the broiler on an oven will also work. The problem with roasting them until the skins blister is that it is a fairly slow process and you are likely to cook the whole pepper instead of just charring the skin. After blistering and steaming, cutting your peppers in half, laying them flat on a cutting board and gently scraping with the sharp side of a chef's knife may aid removing the skin.

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