It happens all too often – you plant what seems to be a sensible number of pepper plants in the spring, only to be overwhelmed with tons of bell peppers in the early fall. Thankfully, this is a good problem to have.
In this article, we’ll share the best way to freeze bell peppers. This storage method is by far the easiest way to save fresh peppers for the long term. They are perfect for cooking, making salsas, or for using in sauces and chilis.
Since bell peppers are among the largest pepper varieties, there are a few extra steps for freezing them properly. We’ll cover everything, from the supplies needed, to preparation and shelf life. Let’s get started!
How To Freeze Bell Peppers
There are a variety of ways to keep your fresh peppers from going bad. However, freezing is the simplest way to store peppers for a long time.
Since bell peppers are so large, we always prefer to de-stem, de-seed and slice the peppers before freezing. This will help maximize the space in our freezer storage bags.
Note: If you plan to use your frozen peppers for stuffed peppers, you may wish to keep them whole for freezing. This is fine, just make sure you have the space in your freezer!
Essentially, the goal is to tightly pack pre-sliced peppers in a freezer-safe storage container (freezer bags or similar). However, it is important to avoid freezer burn and clumping.
To do this, we will flash-freeze the sliced peppers before putting them into storage bags. For smaller pepper varieties that are best stored whole, this process is not necessary.
How to Freeze Bell Peppers (Steps):
- Select firm, healthy peppers.
Always use fresh, ripe peppers when possible. Avoid any spots that are soft, moldy, or rotting by cutting them away.
- Rinse and dry peppers.
Always clean your peppers under cool water to remove excess debris from outdoors. If you bought inorganic peppers, you can use vinegar to help remove any sprays from the surface. Dry the peppers thoroughly.
- Slice off pepper tops and remove stems.
The easiest way to remove the unwanted parts of a bell pepper is to slice away the top.
- Remove seeds.
Reach in around the seed ball and pull it out. Then, knock off any remaining seeds within the pepper.
- Slice peppers into sticks.
Slice the bell peppers into small strips. We like them to be about 2-3″ long and 1/4″ thick. This makes for compact storage in freezer bags and a usable shape for cooking.
- Flash-freeze pepper slices.
To flash freeze the slices, arrange them in a single layer on a sheet that will fit in your freezer. This can be a baking sheet or similar. Then, put them in the freezer for about 60 minutes. This partially freezes the peppers, helping to prevent clumping during long term storage.
- Pack into freezer bags.
Always use freezer bags, as they do a good job at preventing freezer burn. Place the pepper slices into the bags and remove as much air as possible.
Tip: To remove the most air, use a straw to suck out air, then quickly seal the bags shut.
- Freeze for up to 1 year.
Frozen bell peppers should keep for a year, but after this time they may begin to taste different. Whenever you use some of the peppers, be sure to quickly re-seal the bags and return them to the freezer promptly.
- Add more peppers.
If you harvest more peppers, you can always add them to your freezer bags. Just be sure to flash-freeze them before adding them to your existing bags.
With your bell peppers safely tucked away in the freezer, you can be happy knowing your harvests didn’t go to waste. There are lots of great uses for frozen bell peppers, too!
Cooking Frozen Peppers
While frozen green peppers may not be exactly as they were fresh, they are still delicious and useful in the kitchen. Here are a few ideas for how to cook with frozen peppers.
- Cook from frozen. The best way to use frozen bell peppers is to cook them directly from frozen. This way, you can avoid thawing, which can make a watery mess. Just grab a handful and toss them in the hot frying pan with some other veggies, herbs and spices. Yum!
- Thaw and use for salsa. No salsa is complete without some form of peppers. If you like a mild salsa, use your frozen bell peppers to whip up a batch. Dice the peppers into bite-sized pieces while still frozen for easier slicing. Then, thaw the pepper cubes on a paper towel to absorb moisture.
- Use in hot sauce. If you want to try your hand at homemade hot sauce, frozen bell peppers are great for reducing heat level. Try our habanero hot sauce, replacing a few habs with your frozen bells for a milder sauce.
Are Frozen Bell Peppers as Good as Fresh?
Unfortunately, the process of freezing any pepper causes the flesh to become limp. While fresh bell peppers are crunchy, frozen ones are not. Take this into consideration when you plan to use your frozen peppers.
For example, if you intended to use your peppers as scoops for a healthy alternative to chips, frozen bell peppers may not be suitable. However, frozen peppers are perfectly fine to use in sauces, salsa, guacamole, and especially in stir fry or cooked meals.
However, flavor is another story. In our experience, frozen peppers maintain all of their fresh taste, even after months of storage! They also hold their nutrient content well when frozen, though some may be lost.
How Long Do Frozen Bell Peppers Last?
So, freezing bell peppers is pretty simple, but how well does it actually preserve the fresh produce? Thankfully, it is a pretty long time, certainly enough to get you through to the next growing season.
With proper technique, frozen bell peppers can last anywhere from 6 months to 1 year. You can push that longer if you wish, but freezer burn has a way of affecting anything if given enough time.
We also find that long-term freezing leads to some flavor changes. Eventually, that funky freezer flavor will find its way to your bell peppers, even when using proper freezer bags.
I hope this article helped you freeze your bell peppers properly. Don’t forget, you can freeze other pepper varieties, too. Smaller peppers can be frozen whole, while any bigger than a jalapeno we usually prefer to slice. Enjoy!