I try my best to never let fresh jalapeño peppers go to waste. After months of growing your own peppers, you should have some storage methods planned out. In this article, I’ll share how to store jalapeños easily.
Whether your goal is to store the peppers for several months, or just keep them fresh for a few weeks, you’ll find an option here. As a bonus, these storage methods will make your jalapeños taste delicious, and will be useful for cooking or for snacking.
Pickled peppers are a must have in the Pepper Geek refrigerator. A spicy staple, if you will. These crunchy, tangy, and fiery snacks are a delicious addition to sandwiches. I also throw them in omelets, mac n cheese, and on cheese and crackers.
For the most part, we like to make “quick-pickled” jalapeños using vinegar, water, salt, and a few herbs and spices. Keeping the recipe simple allows the flavors of the peppers to take front stage.
Quick pickles are meant to be stored in the refrigerator, and will last a few weeks once opened. If you want a long-term pickle, you can process the jars in a waterbath for 15 minutes, seal, and store at room temperature for months.
Quick pickled jalapenos (full recipe here):
- Slice jalapeños into rings. You can slice in a different orientation if you want (ex. sticks), but I like classic rings. I leave all the seeds in to keep the process simple. If you have fresh onions, carrots, or other peppers on hand, chop them and mix them in for a tasty mixed-pickle batch.
- Fill jars with peppers. Pack the sliced jalapeños into glass mason jars, leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top. Be sure to pack them in tightly to not waste any space.
- Make a brine. Mix 2 parts distilled white vinegar and 1 part water in a small pan (use enough to fill your jars). Add about 1 tsp of salt per cup of liquid. I also like to add a bit of oregano, mustard seeds, whole black peppercorns, and sometimes dill for flavor. Bring it to a boil, then shut off the heat.
- Pour brine over peppers. Carefully pour the hot brine into the jar of sliced jalapeños, covering them. Cover and seal the jars, and allow them to cool at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
- Seal and store in the fridge. Once the jars have cooled, place them in the fridge for storage. They should keep for several weeks unopened. Once you open them, try to consume them within 2-3 weeks.
Tip: Make small batches so you can leave some unopened for longer – unopened pickled peppers last longer.
Once you make your first homemade batch of jalapeño pickles, you’ll never go back. This crunchy treat goes well on almost anything and is one of my personal favorite ways to store jalapeno peppers.
Make a Ferment
If you have never heard of fermentation, it is the process that makes kimchi, sauerkraut, and miso possible. Most garden vegetables can be fermented, and jalapenos are a great candidate.
Fermenting also preserves your produce by creating an acidic environment. This method is ancient and completely natural. At the most basic level, you’ll just need salt and your jalapeño peppers.
Simple fermented peppers:
- Weigh peppers. To be safe, always weigh the ingredients that will be fermented. To keep it simple, let’s assume you have 1000 grams of jalapeno peppers.
- Weigh out 2-3% salt. Use kosher or sea salt if you have it, and always weigh your salt carefully with a kitchen scale. In our example, 3% of 1000 grams comes out to 30 grams of salt.
- Process peppers and salt in food processor. Add the peppers and salt to a food processor and blend until it is a chunky consistency, like a fine salsa. The mixture should become moist, as the salt draws the water from the peppers.
- Pack the mixture into a glass jar and cover. Pack the pepper and salt mixture into a jar, leaving about 1/2-1 inch of headspace at the top. Use a spoon to push down the mixture and get all the trapped air out. Cover with either a self-burping lid (recommended), or a normal ball jar lid with a seal. Sealed lids require burping (see below).
- Place jar in a dimly lit room at 65-75°F. Fermentation happens naturally, as bacteria consume the carbohydrates in the jalapeño peppers, creating lactic acid. The warmer it is, the faster fermentation will happen (up to about 80°F).
- Burp the jars daily (important!). Burping the jars is critical if you are using a sealed lid. Once fermentation becomes active, usually around day 3 or 4, crack open the lid daily, sealing it again immediately. You should hear a *pop* as CO2 is released from the jar.
- Check in 2-3 weeks. After 2 weeks of active fermentation, you can begin checking for smell and flavor. If fermentation has been successful, the mix will smell acidic and tangy. I always recommend checking pH, which measures the acidity of the ferment, using a pH meter.
- Store in the refrigerator. Cold temperatures basically stop fermentation. Once pH is low enough (ideally around 4.0 or lower), the mix will store for many months in the fridge.
While fermentation is not the simplest method of storing jalapeños, it is one of the most satisfying. Using nothing but the natural bacteria in your peppers, you can safely preserve them for months!
Make Candied Jalapeños
Also known as cowboy candy, candied jalapeños are a sweet and crunchy snack. These are similar to pickled jalapeños, but require a bit more cooking, and a good amount of sugar.
While they are good on tacos and pizza, I usually end up just eating these things by the fork full. They are so delicious, sweet, and crunchy in a way that is hard to describe without trying yourself.
Check out our candied jalapeño recipe here (video):
If you decide to make cowboy candy, let me know what you think. It is not as popular as normal pickled jalapeños, but it also uses vinegar and different spices. Our recipe includes allspice, but you don’t have to add it if you want something more traditional.
Thanks to the vinegar, candied jalapeños will keep for a long time in the fridge. Once they’re opened (they probably won’t last this long), eat them within 2 weeks. Always check for any signs of mold before consuming.
If none of the tasty recipes above are your kind of storage, you can simplify things and dehydrate your jalapeños. Dried jalapeño flakes or powder make for a delicious and spicy seasoning.
I like to mix jalapeño powder with other dried herbs, spices, and sometimes salt for an all-purpose blend. Jalapeños work well with so many different spices that you can work them into any meal you cook at home.
Tip: If you have a smoker, smoke your jalapeños for 2-3 hours before dehydrating for a delicious, chipotle-style powder. You can even smoke jalapeños on the grill!
Dried jalapeños can store for up to a year (or longer) as long as they are fully dehydrated. If you are drying them whole, throw a food safe desiccant packet in with them to keep the moisture out.
I highly recommend dehydrating different peppers separately, as they all contain unique flavors. For example, Aji Amarillo peppers offer a fruity and sweet powder, while cayenne powder is more vegetal and smoky.
When you’re in a rush to quickly store your jalapeños, nothing beats the freezer. You can freeze jalapeños whole or chopped, and they will keep for at least 6 months before flavors start to diminish.
If you want to chop the jalapeños before freezing, I recommend doing a flash freeze to avoid clumping. Always use freezer bags to reduce freezer burn, and use a vacuum sealer if you have one.
When you’re ready to use the frozen peppers, just take out what you need and cook them straight from frozen. They will not lose any of their spiciness, flavor, or nutritional value.
Note: Frozen jalapeños will not be crunchy after thawing, so it is best to use them for frying or roasting, straight out of the freezer.
Other Ways To Store Jalapeños
If you want more ideas for how to store your jalapeño harvest, here are a few others:
- Make pepper jam. Pepper jam is tasty and simple. You can make a jam primarily out of peppers and pectin, or you can make a fruit jam with a few jalapeños added in for flavor and heat. Watch us make jalapeño jam here.
- Make relish. Relish is one of my favorite savory and sweet condiments. Perfect for sandwiches and hot dogs, relish is always one of our first ways of preserving hot peppers.
- Make hot sauce. Though jalapeños are not my favorite pepper for making hot sauce (I prefer habaneros or cayennes), they can still be used to make your own creative hot sauces from scratch.
I hope this article helps you avoid letting your jalapeños go to waste. I always recommend planning ahead of harvest time with ways to store jalapeños and other peppers. Enjoy!