Habanero peppers are one of the easiest spicy peppers to grow yourself. They are also cheap to purchase in bulk at the supermarket. After a bountiful harvest, you may wonder if you can freeze your habaneros for long term storage.
In this article, we’ll cover our easy steps for freezing habanero peppers properly. In just a few steps, you can store your hot peppers in the freezer for up to a year or longer! Let’s get started.
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How to Freeze Habanero Peppers (Steps)
The process of freezing habaneros is simple. We simply recommend removing the stems and freezing whole.
- Choose ripe, firm peppers. Always choose healthy-looking habaneros for storage. Discard any peppers that have mold, rot or other damage, or simply cut away any blemished before freezing.
- Clean and dry the peppers. Rinse the habaneros thoroughly to remove any dirt from the peppers. Some habanero pepper varieties can be wrinkly, so be sure to get in all of the cracks. Fully dry the peppers to prevent early freezer burn.
- Remove stems (optional). Remove the stems from the habaneros to save space in your freezer bags. You can leave them if you need them for presentation, etc.
- Fill freezer bags with whole habaneros. Since habaneros are small and do not contain much space inside of each pepper, we recommend freezing them whole. If you prefer to slice them before freezing, see how to flash freeze the sliced peppers below. This step will help avoid the peppers clumping together into a frozen brick.
- Remove air from bags. Freezer bags are designed to prevent air transfer into or out of the bags. For longest storage times, remove as much air as you can before sealing the filled bags. We like to use the submerge in water technique: Full a pot large enough to fit your bagged habaneros with water. Seal the bags almost all the way, leaving a small space for air to release. Then, lower the bag of habaneros into the water, allowing the trapped air to be squeezed out by the water pressure, then seal the bags. Remove the bag and dry it off to be frozen!
- Freeze the peppers for up to 1 year. Frozen produce can last a long time, but we don’t like to let it sit for much longer than a year, even under ideal conditions. Freezer burn has a way of getting into bags, even tightly sealed freezer bags. If you want to store your habaneros for longer, you may want to consider using a vacuum sealer.
That’s it! Freezing is our most-used preservation method for our fresh pepper harvests. It works for all types of peppers, but habaneros are particularly simple since they don’t even need to be sliced.
Slicing Habaneros Before Freezing
If you prefer slicing or you have larger pepper varieties to freeze, consider flash-freezing them. This process is a simple method to prevent the slices from clumping together while in the freezer.
To flash freeze, place the pre-sliced peppers on a baking sheet in a single layer. Try to make sure none of the pieces of pepper are touching, though it isn’t a big deal if they are.
Freeze the slices for about 1 hour, maybe a bit longer if the slices are particularly thick. The goal is to achieve a stiff texture, so squeeze the slices to check.
Once your pepper slices are frozen stiff, they are now ready to be bagged for the freezer (step 4 above)!
Can I Freeze Habaneros Whole?
As the steps above show, freezing habaneros whole is the preferred method for freezer storage. It makes the process of preserving fresh peppers super easy!
The reasons we recommend freezing habaneros whole are twofold. For one, the peppers are small enough that slicing them will not save much space in freezer bags (as opposed to bell peppers, for example).
Second, slicing habaneros releases the capsaicin-filled juices, often leading to hot pepper hands – no fun! If you want to slice them before freezing, or your peppers are already chopped, you should flash-freeze them first. See how above.
How Long Do Frozen Habanero Peppers Last?
You may wonder how long your frozen peppers will last. The freezer essentially slows microbial activity down significantly, preventing mold and bacteria from growing.
Simply put, habanero peppers will last about a year when properly stored in the freezer. Freezing habaneros and other peppers is the easiest way to make fresh harvests last all year long.
If you remove some of the peppers for use, be sure to remove the air from the bag again to prevent freezer burn. Freezer burn happens when condensation forms on the inside of the bags, causing ice buildup on your food.
If you want to store your frozen habaneros for even long, we recommend using a vacuum sealer. These devices are made to remove almost all of the air from special, thick plastic bags. When stored with a vacuum sealed bag, the habaneros will likely last much longer than a year.
How Do You Thaw Frozen Habaneros?
If you plan to use your peppers in a cooked meal, I recommend cooking the habaneros straight from the freezer (without thawing). However, if you are planning to use them for a homemade hot sauce, salsa, guacamole, or other fresh food, you may want to thaw them first.
In short, thaw the frozen habaneros at room temperature on a ceramic plate. The peppers will likely produce moisture while thawing, so be sure to pat them dry once they come to room temp.
Unfortunately, freezing peppers does cause them to lose their firm texture. Fresh habaneros will be stiff, almost crunchy. However, thawed habaneros will be almost mushy, so they are best used for sauces.
Frozen hot peppers are almost exclusively used for making hot sauce in the Pepper Geek household. When we freeze bell peppers or poblanos, we almost always use them for cooking in stir fry or other meals. In this case, we don’t thaw the peppers before cooking.
Can I Freeze Peppers with Other Foods?
You may wonder if you can freeze your peppers with other fresh produce, like onions, tomatoes or anything else from the garden.
In short, some vegetables are best frozen after being blanched, or briefly cooked in boiling water. Peppers and tomatoes are easy to freeze fresh since they don’t require blanching, but Onions and many other veggies do.
If you coordinate, you can definitely store multiple food items in the same freezer bags, even if one food needs to be blanched first! Just make sure you do some research on the specific food you’d like to store in the freezer with your peppers.
How To Freeze Habanero Peppers
- Freezer bags
- 1 bunch habanero peppers Whatever quantity you have, just make sure your freezer has the space!
- Select fresh peppers.
- Rinse and dry the peppers.
- Remove stems.
- Add whole habanero peppers to freezer bags.
- Remove air from bags and seal.
- Freeze for up to 1 year.
I hope this article cleared up any confusion on the topic of freezing habanero peppers. Our freezer door is dedicated to frozen hot peppers each summer, and they come in handy to warm things up during the winter!