If you love the flavor and spice of jalapeños, but want the versatility of a bell pepper, then poblanos may be your perfect pepper. These dark green, triangular-shaped peppers are almost as large as bells, but they also have a touch of heat.
Thankfully, poblano peppers are also very easy to grow, and can be quite prolific. If you find yourself with an abundance of them, it will be useful to learn how to store poblano peppers.
In this article, I’ll share some of our favorite methods of preserving and storing fresh poblanos from the garden or the supermarket. Many of these techniques can be used for other pepper varieties, too. Let’s go!
Freeze Them (1 year shelf life)
Freezing fresh peppers is by far the simplest method of long-term storage. After a long day of harvesting peppers, it is nice to have such a quick and easy way to store them.
Since poblano peppers are so large, we recommend slicing them before freezing. We also remove the seeds and flash freeze the slices to avoid clumping.
How to freeze poblanos:
- Rinse and dry peppers. Always choose healthy looking, blemish-free peppers to freeze. If you see any mold or rot, slice away those sections of the peppers. Rinse the peppers under cool water and dry them thoroughly.
- Remove stems and seeds. Remove the large stems and pull out the seeds inside. You can save some of the seeds for planting if you’d like, otherwise discard them.
- Slice peppers into 2-3″ long sticks. Feel free to cut your poblanos into any shape you’d like, but we prefer to cut them into 2-3″ long sticks, about 1/2″ wide. This makes them perfect for tossing into a stir fry later on. If you plan to use the peppers for salsa, you may wish to chop them smaller.
- Flash freeze the slices for ~1 hour. Place your sliced poblanos onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Place them in the freezer for about an hour, or until the peppers are stiff. This process helps to prevent the pepper slices from sticking to each other during long term freezing.
- Pack the slices into freezer bags. Be sure to use freezer bags for your peppers, not sandwich baggies. Freezer bags are purpose build to help prevent freezer burn during storage.
- Remove air from bags. Once the bags are full, remove as much air from them as possible. One technique we like to use to accomplish this is to submerge the bags in water, leaving a small part of the seal open to allow the air to escape. Be careful to avoid any water getting inside of the bags! Then, seal the bags while still submerged. When you remove them from the water, there should be very little air inside the bags. This is important to help avoid freezer burn. Dry the bags off.
- Freeze for up to 1 year. Now your poblanos are ready to go in the freezer! We always recommend using them as needed for up to a year, but after then the peppers may begin to taste funky (like an old ice cube does).
Frozen peppers can be used as if they were fresh, however you will notice a considerable loss in firmness. This is due to rupturing cells during freezing, causing limpness. In other words, you won’t get the same crunch factor that you do from fresh poblanos.
For a more detailed guide to freezing peppers, see our article here.
Dehydrate Them (1 year shelf life)
If you like paprika, cayenne pepper powder or chili flakes, then you may want to consider dehydrating your poblano peppers. This process can be done in a couple of ways, but the best is by using a purpose-built food dehydrator.
We use this dehydrator for drying our peppers, but there are many other, more affordable options available online.
Essentially, the goal of dehydrating is to remove most of the water content from your peppers. Food dehydrators work by heating to a low temperature and circulating air all around the food for several hours.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can still dry your peppers using the oven. However, it will likely take longer, and it may cause the peppers to cook.
Normal ovens typically can’t be set below ~200°F, so dehydrating usually cooks the peppers. This can cause slight discoloration and/or changes in flavor. However, the end result is still perfectly suitable for long-term storage.
How to dehydrate poblanos:
- Set dehydrator to 125°F. If you are using an oven, set the temperature to the lowest available setting, ideally around 125°F. If your oven has an air circulation option, turn it on.
- Clean and dry peppers. Remove any blemishes, rinse and dry your poblanos.
- Remove stems and seeds. No need to dry the seeds out, unless you like a chunkier powder.
- Cut peppers into even slices. Slicing the peppers smaller will help speed up drying times.
- Place peppers on dehydrator tray. If using the oven, you can line an oven-safe cookie drying sheet or similar. Put the prepared drying sheet onto a baking sheet to catch any peppers that fall through.
- Dehydrate for 10-16 hours. Since poblanos have fairly thick walls, the peppers may take more time to dry than other varieties. Check on the peppers after 4 hours to see how quickly they are drying. If the air is more humid, it may also take longer. The desired texture is “leathery,” or slightly pliable when bent.
Once your peppers are adequately dried, store them in an airtight container with a food safe desiccant packet. These help keep the peppers dry by removing excess moisture.
Pickle Them (3-4 month shelf life)
Though it isn’t as simple as tossing your peppers in the freezer or dehydrator, pickling is still pretty simple! This is one of our favorite preservation methods for fresh peppers, especially thick and crunchy varieties like jalapenos and poblanos.
Quick-pickling is the simple method we use most often for pickling our peppers. It basically involves creating a simple brine, boiling it, and pouring it over the fresh peppers in a jar. Then, the peppers are allowed to cool and can be stored in the refrigerator for many weeks.
Quick pickling method:
- Remove stems and seeds. Remove the stems and seeds from your poblanos as seeds tend to float in the brine, making it messy to access them.
- Slice peppers. For pickling, we like to cut thin sticks or saucers for smaller pepper types.
- Place pepper slices in jars. Use an air-tight ball jar or similar. The pickled peppers will last longest if you use something that does not allow any air transfer.
- Create the brine. A simple brine consists of 1 part vinegar (apple cider or white), 1 part water, and 2-3% salt. In addition to that, we like to add sugar, oregano, mustard seed, garlic, fennel or any other dried herbs you enjoy.
- Boil the brine. Combine all the brine ingredients and bring them to a boil. Shut off the heat.
- Pour hot brine over peppers. While the brine is still very hot, carefully pour it over the peppers in your glass jars. Make sure all of the slices are fully submerged in brine.
- Seal the jars and allow to cool. We usually allow our jars to cool for 30-60 minutes at room temperature before moving to the fridge.
- Store for 3-4 months in refrigerator. Quick-pickled peppers must be refrigerated. When left unopened, pickled peppers can last 3-4 months. Once opened, try to eat the peppers within a couple of weeks.
For a more in-depth guide to pickling peppers, check out our article here.
In the Refrigerator (1-2 week shelf life)
If you don’t plan to store your poblano peppers for the long-term, you may simply wonder how long they will last in the fridge.
In short, store poblanos in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. Always check for signs of mold or rot, inside and out, before consuming an older pepper.
Poblanos stored in the fridge will gradually lose crispness over time. The skins will eventually begin to wrinkle, and mold may begin to form on vulnerable parts of the skin.
Be sure to slice into your poblanos before consuming to check for any hidden issues inside the peppers. Believe me, I’ve learned this the hard way…
Roast Them (1-2 week shelf life)
Some people assume that roasted peppers are actually preserved, but this is not true. In order to truly preserve peppers, they must be dehydrated, stored in a sterilized and sealed container, or stored in a low pH (acidic) environment.
Roasted peppers are still full of moisture, and are typically stored in olive oil. However, this is not a suitable long term storage environment. Instead, we recommend consuming roasted poblanos within 1-2 weeks, and to always store them in the refrigerator.
Store bought roasted red peppers usually contain some form of acidifier for preservation. This could be citric acid or something similar.
Learn more about how to roast peppers properly in our article about it here.
I hope this article helps you decide how to store poblano peppers for the short or long term. We hate to see any fresh produce going to waste, so let us know if you have any other ideas on how to keep poblanos for longer!