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 preserving chillies at home.
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.
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Preserving Chillies by Pickling
Hands down, pickling is my favorite way to preserve chillies. They 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 and easy to do. All you need are some cheap 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 your chillies
- Slice them in the desired shape
- Create a brine (vinegar and water combination + herbs 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 preserved chillies out of the refrigerator for up to 2 years.
To get started with pickling your peppers, read our extended post all about pickling chillies here.
Preserving Chillies by Freezing
How Long Will They Last: 1 year | Difficulty: Easy | Read our full guide >
Freezing your chillies is the easiest method of preservation. This 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 and nutritional value of the original 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 dry the peppers
- Remove the stems
- Place peppers in freeze bags
- Remove as much air as possible
- 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 a lot more about freezing chillies in our article about how to freeze peppers.
Preserving Chillies by Dehydrating
How Long Will They Last: 1+ year | Difficulty: Medium
Another excellent method for preserving chillies at home is by dehydrating them, and creating dried pepper flakes. 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 chillies for 1 year or more.
How to Dehydrate Chillies
Ideally you should use a dehydrator to dry out your chillies. This is a small investment, but if you grow a lot of peppers, it can be well worth it to get your own dehydrator. We like this dehydrator on Amazon for its customizable temperature setting and affordable price.
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 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius), which is below what most ovens can maintain.
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 (squeezing the pepper causes it to crack), 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. 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
How Long Will They Last: 1-4 months | Difficulty: Medium
Making your own hot sauce may sound intimidating, but it can be very easy. If you have fresh chillies, you’re already halfway there! Some hot sauce recipes use as few as 3 or 4 ingredients.
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 and other fruits and vegetables. Making your own sauces can be a great way to experiment with 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
- 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)
- Apple cider (for sweetness)
- Olive oil (for texture)
- Any other fruits and vegetables!
To get started, try this simple, 5-ingredient hot sauce recipe by Minimalist Baker.
Preserving Chillies in Oil
How Long Will They Last: 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 preserving your chillies 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.
- 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, preserving in olive oil is a great option.
Tip: Reuse the olive oil after peppers are gone. Simply strain the oil through a fine mesh strain and use again.
I hope you found this guide useful for storing your chili peppers at home. There are a ton of great ways to keep your chillies for longer, so don’t let them go to waste! Let us know how it goes, and enjoy!