Sweet and hot peppers will last for a year or more when you store them properly. Whether you have an abundance of fresh peppers from your garden or the market, get the most out of them by storing the extras that you can’t use right away. Freeze them or dry them for easy use in the kitchen all year long, or pickle and can them to preserve them and store them for up to 2 years!
Wash peppers to remove any dirt and let them air dry. Choose fresh, ripe peppers that have no soft spots or blemishes. Rinse them under cold water and set them on a clean towel or paper towel to air dry.
Ripe peppers should have a firm texture. If they are soft, then they are past their peak ripeness and no longer fresh enough for freezing.
Cut bell peppers up to remove the seeds and membranes. Cut bell peppers or sweet peppers in half, pull out the seeds, and cut out the membranes. Cut the peppers into a size of your choosing.
Consider how you will use bell peppers and cut them into strips or chunks that you can easily use straight from the freezer to prepare recipes like fajitas or soups.
Leave hot peppers intact to freeze them whole with the seeds. Freeze hot peppers whole with the seeds and membranes because those parts contain most of the heat. You will be able to cut them up when you take them out of the freezer if a recipe calls for it.
Jalapenos are a type of hot pepper that you can either freeze whole, or cut up before you freeze them.
Spread the peppers out on a baking sheet. Put the cut up bell peppers or whole hot peppers on a sheet with space between them. Make sure that none are touching so that they don’t freeze together.
You can use a cookie sheet, baking pan, or any other metal sheet that will fit in your freezer.
Put the sheet in the freezer for 15-30 minutes until the peppers are frozen solid. This is called flash-freezing and will keep the peppers from freezing together once you transfer them to a more compact storage container. Remove the sheet from the freezer when the peppers are hard to the touch.
Put the peppers in a sealable plastic bag or airtight container in the freezer. Transfer the peppers from the baking sheet into a plastic freezer bag or other freezer-safe container once they are frozen solid. Put the bag or container back into the freezer and store the peppers for up to 1 year.
If you are freezing the peppers in a bag, squeeze out as much air as you can before you seal the bag.
Label the bags or containers with the date that you froze the peppers to keep track of how long they have been frozen and use them within a year.
Use a food dehydrator to dry peppers quickly and easily. Cut large peppers in half and leave smaller peppers whole. Spread the peppers out on the screens in the dehydrator, set the temperature to , and dry the peppers per your dehydrator’s instructions.
It can take from 4-12 hours to dry out peppers in a dehydrator. Refer to the instruction manual for your food dehydrator for specific drying times and directions.
Dry peppers in the oven if you don’t have a food dehydrator. Spread peppers out on a baking sheet so that they are not touching and put the sheet in an oven set to . Crack the oven door open so moisture can escape. Check on the peppers and rotate them with tongs every 30 minutes.
Cut large peppers, such as bell peppers, into pieces and remove the seeds to decrease drying time. Leave smaller and hot peppers intact.
It can take 1-2 hours to dry peppers in the oven. Peppers are dry when they are brittle to the touch.
String peppers together and hang them if you live in a dry climate. Use a needle and thread to string the peppers together by the stems. Hang the string of peppers in a dry area with sun and good airflow for 3-4 weeks.
You need a daytime temperature of in order to hang-dry peppers.
The peppers are dry enough to take down when they are brittle to the touch.
Dental floss works to string peppers together to dry if you don’t have a strong thread.
Store dried peppers in a moisture-proof container. Put the dried peppers in jars or other airtight containers in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year. They have the best flavor within 3-6 months.
You can also use a food processor or the type of coffee grinder with a blade to grind dried peppers up into flakes and powders to use in the kitchen.
EditPickling and Canning Peppers
Wash canning jars and lids with soap and hot water and rinse them thoroughly. Set them on a clean towel to drain and dry. Always use new lids when you pickle and can peppers.
You can recycle canning jars and the rings that hold the lids in place.
Canning jars and lids are available at kitchen supply stores or online.
Fill the canning jars with peppers to below the rim. Place whole hot peppers or sliced bell or sweet peppers in the jars. Pack them tightly together, but leave headspace at the top.
You can also add any other seasonings that you would like to the jar of peppers. Some common spices for seasoning pickled pepper are kosher salt, peppercorns, and garlic cloves.
Cover the peppers with 2 parts vinegar and 1 part water and close the jars. Use distilled white vinegar and cold water. Leave of headspace at the top of the jar and run a plastic knife between the peppers and the sides of the jar to remove any air bubbles before you screw the lids on.
This is the standard ratio of vinegar to water to safely pickle and preserve the peppers. Some recipes may call for a different ratio or type of vinegar. If you are using a different recipe, follow it exactly to safely pickle your peppers.
Put the jars in a deep pot half full of hot water with a rack at the bottom. Use a metal or wooden rack that will keep the jars from touching the bottom of the pot. Fill the pot to about halfway with water and heat it up to just under boiling temperature, then place the jars carefully onto the rack.
Make sure that the pot is deep enough that you will be able to cover the jars completely with more water after they are on the rack.
Make sure the jars are not touching each other so that the water can circulate.
Add hot water until the jars are covered by at least . Heat up water to just under boiling temperature in another pot or a kettle. Pour it carefully into the pot with the jars until they are covered completely.
If you accidentally let the water boil, just turn off the heat and let it sit for 30 seconds to 1 minute before you pour it in over the jars.
Bring the water to a boil and let the jars boil for 5-10 minutes. Heat the pot until the water comes to a gentle boil at about . Start a timer once the water is boiling and leave the jars boiling for 5 minutes for sweet peppers and 10 minutes for hot peppers.
If you live above then add 5 minutes to the boiling time.
If you live above then add 10 minutes to the boiling time.
Remove the jars carefully and let them cool for 24 hours. Turn off the heat and use tongs to lift the jars out of the water. Be careful to keep them level and place them on a rack or towel to dry and cool.
After 24 hours, check to see if the lids are sealed properly. The lids should be concaved towards the center of the jar, and if you unscrew the ring that holds them in place you should be able to lift the jar up by the lid.
If the lids are not properly sealed, then repeat the boiling process again or store the jars in the refrigerator.
You can store sealed, unopened pickled peppers for up to 2 years before they start to lose their quality.
Don’t touch your face, eyes, or any other sensitive areas of your skin when handling hot peppers. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling them to avoid burning yourself.
EditSources and Citations
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