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How To Store Peppers – Preserving Chillies

If you’re like me, you love eating your own, freshly picked peppers. I love growing them, buying them at stores, and putting them in almost everything I cook. But what about preserving fresh peppers?

In this article, I’ll share 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 each method will preserve the peppers, and how difficult is it to do.

Each preservation method will have a simple estimate for how long the peppers will last, and how difficult the process is.

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Preserving Chillies by Pickling

Storage: 1 month – 2 years | Difficulty: Medium | Read our full guide >

Pickled Jalapenos in Jar
Pickled jalapeño chillies.

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:

Pickling Peppers

  • 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 stored 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 Peppers by Freezing

Storage: 1 year | Difficulty: Easy | Read our full guide >

Freezing your pepper is by far the easiest method of long-term preservation. Freezing will keep peppers good for at least a year and requires only freezer bags (like these on Amazon).

The process is simple and straightforward and will keep almost all of the flavor, heat, 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 peppers 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 peppers in our article about how to freeze peppers.


Storing Peppers by Dehydrating

Storage: 1+ year | Difficulty: Medium | Read our full guide >

Dehydrating Peppers
Dried peppers in storage.

Another excellent method for preserving chiles at home is by dehydrating them and creating dried pepper flakes or powder. If stored properly, they can last a long time, and make for a great seasoning for adding spice to meals. This method is pretty simple and can keep your peppers for 1 year or longer.

How to Dehydrate Peppers

Ideally, you should use a dehydrator to dry out your peppers. This can be an investment depending on the quality of the dehydrator. However, if you grow a lot of produce, it can be well worth it to get a purpose-built food dehydrator.

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 peppers 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.

A good temperature for dehydrating peppers is around 125°F (52°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 (when the 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.

For extra protection for long-term storage, 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 >

Homemade hot sauces by PepperGeek
PepperGeek homemade hot sauces.

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. You can also ferment your peppers into an acidic mash, making vinegar less important to maintain a safe acidity.

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.

Basic steps:

  • 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 tablespoons of vinegar 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)
  • Cumin, turmeric, thyme, oregano
  • 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 using peppers is likely the easiest. All you need is a sealed container, olive oil, and an oven or grill.

Note: This type of pepper storage is only intended for the short term. Chillies preserved in olive oil are only meant to be kept for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.

However, peppers in oil have delicious flavor and are great on sandwiches, but are not meant for long term storage. Be safe and always discard any unused peppers after this time.

Here is the basic process for storing peppers in oil:

  1. Clean peppers
  2. Roast whole peppers on the top oven rack at 450°F (232°C) 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 >
  3. Steam peppers for 10-15 minutes. Put the roasted peppers under a bowl on the counter and allow them to steam – this makes removing the skins much easier.
  4. Remove skin and stems.
  5. Slice peppers into desired shape and remove seeds if desired (this will reduce heat in spicy peppers).
  6. Add peppers to jars. Some like to add a few cloves of fresh or roasted garlic in with the peppers for added flavor.
  7. Pour olive oil over peppers until fully submerged.
  8. 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 make tasty jalapenos in olive oil here >


I hope you found this guide for storing your chili peppers at home useful. 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!

Calvin Thumbnail

Calvin

One of the original Pepper Geeks! When Calvin isn’t gardening or learning more about peppers and botany, he might be traveling new places or playing some music.

mark Scott ducharme

Tuesday 17th of August 2021

I ferment all my hot peppers. Then either dry them for pepper flakes or turn them into fermented hot sauce. You do lose a touch of heat but the flavor is like no other. It's so simple an oh soooo good.

peppergeek

Thursday 19th of August 2021

What method do you use for fermentation? A ground up mash, or just sliced and fermented whole? And how long do you ferment them for before processing? We love fermenting for sauce, but it definitely depends on the pepper and duration of fermentation

Dominick P Costello

Wednesday 17th of March 2021

Hi, Really needed a new pickling recipe. Love Jalapenos and Habaneros. If you have a mailing list, please put me on it. Dom

peppergeek

Friday 19th of March 2021

Hey Dom, you can sign up for our weekly emails here: https://peppergeek.com/mail/ - thanks!