If you’re like me, you love eating your own, freshly picked chilli peppers. I love growing them, buying them at stores, and putting them in almost everything I cook. But what about preserving chillies? In this article, I’d like to share my favorite 5 methods for how to store peppers for the long term.
There are a number of factors that will determine which method you choose, but the most important things are how long will each method preserve the peppers, and how difficult is it to do.
Each preservation method will have a simple estimate for how long the chillies will last, and how difficult the process is.
Preserving Chillies by Pickling
Hands down, pickling is my favorite way of storing peppers. Pickled chillies can last a very long time, and they are delicious for snacking or adding to other foods. The process of pickling peppers is also very simple. All you need are some basic ingredients and a few glass mason jars.
We wrote an in depth guide to pickling peppers here if you want to learn how to do it from start to finish. For now, this is the basic process:
- Wash and dry the peppers
- Slice them in the desired shape (we like rounds for jalapenos)
- Create a brine (50/50 white vinegar and water combination + herbs, garlic and spices)
- Boil the brine and pour over the sliced peppers in a glass jar
- Seal and refrigerate
This method is also known as “quick pickling” and the peppers will last anywhere from 1-2 months in the refrigerator.
For a longer lasting pickled pepper, you will have to use the waterbath method. This essentially involves boiling the cans in a large pot for about 10 minutes, killing off potentially harmful bacteria. This method will allow you to store your peppers out of the refrigerator for up to 2 years.
Preserving Chillies by Freezing
Storage: 1 year | Difficulty: Easy | Read our full guide >
The process is simple and straightforward and will keep almost all of the flavor and nutritional value of the original peppers. It also retains all of the original heat of spicy peppers!
How To Freeze Chillies
For freezing hot peppers, you can simply freeze the pepper whole. The process of freezing hot chillies is easy:
- Wash and thoroughly dry the peppers
- Remove the stems
- Place peppers in freeze bags
- Remove as much air as possible
- Seal and freeze for up to 1 year
If you are freezing larger peppers, like bell peppers or banana peppers, you may want to slice and flash-freeze the peppers first. This is an optional step, but it can help save room in your freezer. There is also the option to blanch your peppers before freezing to help maintain more flavor and nutrition.
Learn much more about freezing chillies in our article about how to freeze peppers.
Storing Peppers by Dehydrating
Storage: 1+ year | Difficulty: Medium
Another excellent method for preserving
How to Dehydrate Peppers
We love 4 tray our Excalibur dehydrator, but it is slightly pricier than the cheapest models. There are many affordable options on Amazon with customizable temperature settings and plenty of tray space.
A dehydrator holds a consistent, warm temperature while also circulating dry air within a chamber. Your peppers are spread out on racks to allow the warm air to dry out the peppers evenly over a number of hours.
One alternate method for dehydrating chillies is to bake them at a very low temperature in an oven. This is not ideal because the peppers tend to cook slightly, taking away some of their original color and flavor.
The ideal temperature for dehydrating peppers is around 115°F (46°C), which is below what most ovens can maintain. Also, only some conventional ovens have air circulation (convection), which is essential for timely dehydration.
To learn more about drying peppers, read our article about dehydrating habanero peppers here.
How to Store Dehydrated Peppers
Once your peppers are dried out (peppers are leathery and shrunken in size), you should store them properly. In order to do so, simply place them into and air-tight container and store in a cool, dark place.
Ideally, you should also place a food safe desiccant packet with the dried peppers to remove any excess moisture. A pantry or cabinet will work well, or in the refrigerator. This will allow the peppers to stay good for up to 12 months.
Preserve Your Peppers By Making Hot Sauce
Storage: 1-4 months | Difficulty: Medium | Simple Hot Sauce Recipe >
Making your own hot sauce may sound intimidating, but it can be very easy. If you have fresh peppers, you’re already halfway there! Some hot sauce recipes use as few as 3 or 4 ingredients.
By using vinegar, hot sauce has a low pH value (highly acidic), keeping the sauce from spoiling.
How to Make Hot Sauce at Home
The basic formula for a homemade hot sauce is usually a combination of peppers, white or apple cider vinegar, spices, other fruits and vegetables, and salt. Making your own sauces can be a great way to experiment and create new flavors.
- Clean and roughly chop peppers
- Combine 2 parts vinegar with 1 part water in a pot
- Add peppers and other desired ingredients to vinegar (we like adding sweet fruits and sugars)
- Boil for 5-10 minutes
- Allow to cool
- Blend until desired smoothness is reached
- If sauce is too thick, add a few tbsp of water at a time and blend until it is the right viscosity
Tip: Save empty glass bottles from older hot sauces to use for making your own at home. Just be sure to sterilize the empty bottles by boiling in water for 10 minutes.
Recommended Ingredients to use in Hot Sauces:
- Peppers (Habaneros, jalapeños, bell peppers, and ghost peppers are great)
- Garlic & onions
- Tropical fruits (pineapple, mango, peach, apricot)
- Apple cider (for sweetness)
- Olive oil (for texture)
- Any other fruits and vegetables!
To get started, try our simple habanero hot sauce recipe (just 6 ingredients).
Preserving Chillies in Oil
Storage: 1-2 weeks | Difficulty: Easy
Aside from freezing, this method of preserving chillies is likely the easiest. All you need is a sealed container, olive oil, and an oven or grill.
However, one issue with this type of pepper storage is that it is short term. Chillies preserved in olive oil are only meant to be stored for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. They have delicious flavor and are great on sandwiches, but are not meant for long term storage!
Here is the basic process for storing peppers in oil:
- Clean peppers
- Roast whole peppers on the top oven rack at 450 degrees Fahrenheit until skin begins to curl. Turn peppers regularly to avoid burning. Cook times vary from 5-15 minutes depending on the type of pepper. Full roasting guide here >
- Remove skin and stems.
- Slice peppers into desired shape and remove seeds if desired (to reduce heat)
- Add peppers to jars. Some like to add a few cloves of fresh or roasted garlic in with the peppers for added flavor.
- Pour olive oil over peppers until fully submerged.
- Store in refrigerator. Most chillies preserved in oil will last 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.
That’s it! Simple and quick, but with excellent flavor and versatility. Great on tacos and all types of sandwiches. If you’re looking to keep your peppers for the short term, storing in olive oil is a great option.
For a more in depth guide, see our article on how to preserve jalapenos in olive oil here >
I hope you found this guide useful for storing your chili peppers at home. There are a ton of great ways to keep your peppers fresh and usable for longer, so don’t let them go to waste! Let us know how it goes, and enjoy!