Growing your own peppers are a great way to save money and have more of the varieties you and your family enjoy. But, as with most fruits and vegetables, you’ll likely end up with more than your can consume. So, to keep them longer, here are 7 ways to preserve peppers you’ve harvested from your garden.
This way, you can keep them any months after you’ve harvested them and still enjoy the aroma and flavor.
Ways to Preserve Peppers from Your Garden
The simplest ways to preserve peppers is by freezing. This works because frozen peppers will store for a very long time. And, they don’t lose their flavor either. The latter is a major factor since you plan on eating the peppers later on.
I also like that fact that peppers keep their shape and don’t break apart when you thaw them. Plus, you don’t need to blanch them before freezing like you do other veggies.
That said, I will admit that they’ve won’t be as crisp after freezing as they are when fresh. But, that’s a small price to pay for being able to keep them longer.
Frozen peppers are great for making salsa, fajitas and even jalapeno poppers. You can use them to top pizza, in soups or cook them with meat or chicken dishes as well.
If you enjoy watching as opposed to reading, here’s a great video that will show you how to freeze peppers. It includes a lot of explanations of commonly asked questions as well.
It is worth noting that when I freeze peppers that are not from my own garden, I always take the time to wash them first. Then dry them before freezing.
You can do this by:
- Dicing the peppers or cutting them into strips
- Remove the seeds
- Place them in a freezer bag
- If you don’t like having the strips or diced pieces of peppers freezing and sticking together, you can pre-freeze them on backing sheets before placing them into the bags. This is a nice trick I learned from one of my neighbors who loves cooking.
- To pre-freeze the peppers, place parchment paper on a baking pan then spread the pepper strips or diced pieces. The paper will keep them from sticking. Make sure to keep the pepper pieces away from one another so they don’t touch. Put the sheets in the freezer until the peppers freeze. Then take then out for bagging in the next step.
- You want to get as much as out as possible before sealing the bag. Another option, if you have one, is to use a vacuum sealer like Food Saver. Add a date to know when you left them in the freezer. Ideally, you want to use stored frozen peppers withing 8 to 10 months.
- Then place the bag or bags into the freezer depending on how much you have to store away.
Finally, it is a good idea to separate hot peppers and sweet peppers. Keep them in separate bags and label the bags appropriately.
- How to Cure and Store Garlic (So It Lasts Longer)
- How to Harden Off Seedlings
- How to Test Soil in the Home Garden
- How To Start A Container Garden
- How To Start A Square Foot Garden
- How to Store Fresh Herbs: The Best Way Step By Step
Drying or Dehydrating Peppers
A second option to storing peppers is to dry them. Preserving via drying will not only let you store them longer but will also concentrate their flavor.
This is great if you enjoy lots of heat from your chile peppers.
Dried peppers work great for stews, chilies and stews. You can also crush them to create chili powder or pepper flakes.
When it comes to dehydrating or drying peppers, you’ll either need an over or electric dehydrator. The latter makes it much easier although it is a specific appliance, so it only does on function. As such, if you don’t dehydrate a lot of things, it may not be worth spending the extra cash.
After you’ve dehydrated the peppers, store them away in a mason jar or any airtight container.
Type of Peppers that Dry Well
One of the best things about drying peppers is that you can do it wo any kind. This includes:
- Sweet peppers
- Jalapenos (red and green)
- Paprika chiles
- Cayenne peppers
3 Ways to Dry Peppers
Here are 3 effective ways to dry peppers. You can choose which method you want to use. Keep in mind that the vary in how easy each is to do and how long it will take the peppers to dehydrate.
Air Dry or Hang The Peppers
Air drying is the easiest method among the three. And, you don’t need any device to use this method.
However, it is only effective if you live in a warm weather area. Ideally, you want temperature to be at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Although, this will work for slightly lower climate, the higher the temperature, the faster they will dry. You’ll also get better results.
Here’s how to air dry peppers:
- Choose the right kinds of peppers for air drying – Ideally, air drying works best for thinner peppers. Thicker peppers will take too long. As always, you want to choose unbruised, unblemished peppers for longer term storage.
- String up the peppers – the easiest way to hang the peppers to air dry them is to use a string. To do so, use a needed to insert the string through the stems of the peppers. Keep the peppers away from one another so there’s more air circulation between them.
- Hang the peppers – you’ll be hanging the peppers much like you’re air drying clothing. Since the peppers are strung into a line you can now hang the ends like a clothesline. Ideally, hang them somewhere there’s sunshine and good air flow. Avoid overly windy areas since they might blow way the peppers or make them stick to one another. It generally takes 20 to 30 days for the peppers to completely dry.
- Jar the peppers – once the peppers get brittle, they are dry. You can then collect them and place them in glass jars with tight lids. Avoid leaving them under sunlit areas.
While air drying peppers is the easiest and requires the least amount of work, it also takes the longest of the 3 methods.
Dehydrate Using a Food Dehydrator
Air drying peppers may or may not work depending on where you live and what time of year it is. If you live somewhere that has a humid climate or rains every so often, it won’t be easy to dry the peppers by hanging them. Similarly, cooler weather makes it harder to do so.
If that’s the case, using a food dehydrator or drying the peppers in the oven (the next option) are better choices.
Dehydrators allow air to enter the device. It has small holes that look like screens to circulate the air inside the device. This creates a slow flow of warm air allowing the contents inside the appliance to dry quickly.
It is also the fastest way to dry peppers. So, if you’re in a hurry, choose this method.
Here’s how to dehydrate peppers using a food dehydrator.
Here’s how to dehydrate peppers using a food dehydrator.
- Pick out the peppers – start by selecting good quality peppers and preparing them for the dehydrator. You want to avoid those with bumps, bruises or blemishes.
- Separate small and large peppers – you’ll need to cut up larger peppers. But, if you wish, you can dry the small peppers as whole. Of course, you can always cut them up as well. It all depends on what you prefer and what you plan on using them for later on.
- Lay the peppers on the screen surface – keep the peppers from touching one another. This way there’s air that will reach all sides of each piece.
- Set the temperature – I’ve found that 125 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit works well. But, the temperature will depend on what kind of device you have. Plus, you can adjust the level as you figure out what texture you prefer. So, a little trial and error is needed here.
- Wait – it typically takes between 4 to 12 hours to dehydrate the peppers using this method. So, patience it key.
- Store the peppers – once they’ve dried, place the peppers in glass containers with airtight lids. Keep the jars away from direct light as this will change the color of the peppers.
Dry Them in an Oven
If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use your oven. Here’s how:
- Harvest and pick out the peppers to dry – choose good peppers you’ve harvested. Avoid those that have damages or spots. The better the quality of the peppers, the better they’ll hold over time. You can use the slightly damaged peppers fresh.
- Cut the peppers into uniform pieces – smaller pieces dry faster. By cutting, you also expose all the sides of each piece which helps it dry quicker. Finally, you want to make the cuts uniform so they all finish at the same time.
- You can also dry small peppers whole – depending on your preference and how you want to use them later, you can dry the peppers in the oven whole. This works best for smaller ones since the big ones will take too long to dry.
- Put the peppers in baking sheets – place the peppers in baking sheets. Keep them spread out like you would pastry when baking.
- Set the oven at 150 degrees – place the baking sheet into the oven and leaves small opening. Leaving the oven door slightly cracked open will help let moisture escape.
- Remove peppers as they dry – it will take about 1 to 2 hours for the peppers to dry. But, some will dry faster depending on the size and where they’re positioned in the oven. You likely know the cold and hot spots in your oven, so check the hot spots first every 20 to 30 minutes. Then take out those that are dry. The peppers become brittle when they dry.
- Store the peppers – keep the peppers in a mason jar with a tight lid. Any airtight container will work. Make sure to keep the jar away from sunlight.
How to Use Dehydrated Peppers
One of the best things I love about dried peppers is you can do lots of things with them. Below are some of my favorite ways to use dehydrated peppers.
However, I’m not an expert cook by any means so I’m sure that you guys know more ways to do them. That said, here are some great ways you can use dried peppers.
Rehydrate and Use in Recipes
There are many ways to rehydrate dried peppers. I know some people that just put them into very hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. After that, the peppers will soften up and you can remove the seeds if you want or keep them there.
At that point, you can just slice up the peppers and use them.
That said, I prefer another option which I feel helps bring out more flavor. You can try both methods and see which you prefer.
- Take the seeds out of the pepper – you can leave them in if you want the extra heat and texture. However, I’ve found that this works better if you’re not going to reheat them. If you do reheat them like I’m going to, the seeds become bitter and blunt the flavor of the peppers. So, I prefer removing them.
- Reheat the peppers – place the peppers on a pan or skillet that’s at medium high heat. In a few seconds, you’ll get an amazing aroma. Turn the pepper after about 20 to 30 seconds and let the other side toast for the same period.
- Soak in boiling water – finally pour boiling water. You can heat the water on the stove or use a hot water jug to get the water hot. Then add it to the pan and let the water soak for 15 to 30 minutes. The thinner the peppers the less time they’ll need to soak.
Make Chile Powder
If you want to make chile powder, then you’ll need to get the pepper to a fine grind.
- To do so, start by breaking up the dried peppers – You’ll want to remove the seeds and stems. To help the grinding process along, try getting the dried peppers to smaller pieces. Make sure to use gloves and wash your hands after so you don’t accidentally touch your face or any part of your face later.
- Grind them – you can use a spice grinder for this or a coffee grinder. Both work.
- Place the powdered pepper into airtight containers.
Use them as Pepper Flakes or Turn it into Powder Form
This in my favorite because you can sprinkle them over almost anything. They’re similar to the pepper flakes in stores. But, you know what’s in yours and you can choose the kind of peppers to use.
In addition to using the flakes on their own, you can also makes your own mixes by adding other spices like onion powder, garlic powder and just about anything else.
This lets you create blends that are perfect for different kinds of cooking.
Here’s how to make pepper flakes.
- Break up the dried peppers – how small or chunky you want to make them is really up to you and what you want to use them for. you can use your hands, or other tools.
- Crush them to smaller bits – if you want to turn them into smaller bits, you can crush them further. You can use a mortar and pestle. Or if you have a food processor, go with that and pulse it.
- If you want powdered form – blend them until however fine or coarse you want. I have a spare handheld coffee grinder I use for this. Make sure you label them so you don’t end up using it for coffee. Although that might be a good prank for your significant other next April Fool’s.
- Store them in a jar – place the crushed pepper flakes in a jar with an airtight lid.
Once you have pepper flakes you can use it on meats, fish, chicken or anything else. The kids always add it to pizza.
If you want to preserve the peppers or use them that way, canning is a good choice. Like other canning recipes it is very important to be safe. Keeping them in liquid can introduce pathogens if not done properly.
That said, canned peppers are great for making salsa, jelly, pickles and relish.
Here’s how to can peppers to store them for later use.
How you can the peppers will depend on what you’re going to use the peppers for, the type of peppers, size and shape. As such, be ready to experiment a bit along the way.
Ferment the Peppers
Another great option is to ferment the peppers. This is different from canning the peppers because while you’re storing the peppers for the long term you’re also introducing good microorganisms.
Yeast, beneficial bacteria and other cultures will make them healthier. It is similar to what’s done with yogurt and kimchi, which is what makes them great for your digestive system.
Because it takes time for these microorganism to do their work, fermenting peppers take more time to complete compared to the other preservation methods in our list.
Here’s how to ferment peppers.
Pickling peppers technically falls under canning. But, it is something I’ve loved as a child, so I’ll included it in the list (separate from canning)
Picking cucumbers is by far one of the most popular ways to enjoy vegetables. But, you can do the same with peppers. It also works for many fruits and veggies that can’t be canned via a water bath.
Here’s how to make pickled peppers.
Pepper relish is great because you have a lot of options, you can make sweet pepper relish or on that’s hot. Below is a recipe that mixes the two together.
You can chop the peppers by hand. Although, if you have a food processor, that’ll be an amazing time saver.
Here’s a great sweet & spicy pepper relish recipe step by step. Enjoy the video tutorial.
Make Sauces and Salsa
If you enjoy making salsa, you can do so without as many peppers as you’d need in the other methods. Alternatively, you can make sauces from it as well.
My kids really like roasted red peppers so I use them quite a bit.
Here’s how to make roasted red pepper salsa.
What’s Your Favorite Way of Preserving Peppers?
These are some ways I’ve found to preserve peppers so you can use them later on. I’m sure that you’ve got a lot more methods so let me know what your favorite ways of preserving peppers are.