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How To Store Chilies And Peppers
4 min

How To Store Chilies And Peppers (Short And Long Term)

4 min

There's no doubt about it; cultivating pepper and chili plants is a hugely rewarding experience. But it's the harvest we really do it for. Having a supply of great-tasting and spicy chilies at your disposal is a luxury everyone should enjoy. But how do you preserve them for later use? Wonder no more, as we delve into everything you need to know.

After months of tending to your chili plants, harvest time is finally approaching. It's at this point you may face a tiny dilemma: how do you store your hot peppers once picked? Well, let us tell you; it's the best kind of problem to have. From the short to the long term, we'll share the multiple ways in which you can store your chilies. So, whether you're looking to use them now or a few months down the line, we've got you covered.

When to pick peppers or chilies

When to pick peppers or chilies

First things first; when exactly do you pick your chilies, and how do you know if they're ready to go? While this will differ according to the variety, there are certainly some telltale signs that you should be aware of when looking to gauge the maturity of your peppers.

Keeping an eye on the colour of your chilies is a pretty surefire way to determine their status. Some may turn yellow or orange, but most will turn from green to red, indicating they are ready to be plucked from the plant. Of course, size is a massive indicator of the maturity of your chilies as well.

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When And How To Harvest Hot Peppers

Luckily, much of the information you'll need regarding harvest time is freely available online, or on the packaging of your pepper seeds.

For example, with some hot pepper varieties, you may even see some scoring on the pods’ skin. Known as corking, this indicates that the chili has matured and is ready to be picked. Sometimes the signs are even clearer; more often than not, peppers that are ready to be picked will easily come away from the stem with very little force. So if your plant is nearing the end of its growing cycle, give the fruits a slight pull against their direction of growth; it'll tell you everything you need to know.

How long do fresh chilies and peppers last?

How long do fresh chilies and peppers last?

Freshly picked chilies can last between 1 and 2 weeks unrefrigerated. However, this can vary among different types, with thick-fleshed berries lasting much longer than thin-walled pods. Storing your hot peppers at room temperature is obviously a method for those looking to use them in the very near future, but for longer storage, there are plenty of other options.

If you are looking to store them fresh for just a few days, be sure to place them in small paper or plastic bags and keep them in a cool and dry place, such as a pantry.

How to store chilies and peppers: short term

How to store chilies and peppers: short term

While storing peppers at room temperature might suit some, there are plenty of other low-cost and effective methods of preserving chilies in the short term. So if you're looking to keep your chili peppers for under a month, this is the section for you.

In the fridge: 1–2 weeks

Similar to storing at room temperature, it's effortless to keep your fresh chilies in the fridge for a week or so. Depending on your haul, they're unlikely to take up much space. Simply place your chilies in a resealable freezer bag or airtight plastic container and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to use them. This is arguably the easiest method of short-term chili storage.

Preserving in oil: 2–3 weeks

For a slightly longer-term solution, many avid growers actually preserve chilies in a jar filled with oil. All chilies and peppers can be placed in oil, from sweet peppers to Carolina Reapers and everything in between, to increase their longevity.

First, it's a case of washing the peppers to prepare them for preservation. Next, sterilise the containers you'll be using—and anything else that'll come into contact with your berries during the process.

Now you have a few options; cook, char, or roast the peppers so they can be eaten immediately from the jar. Although some place their peppers into the oil uncooked, this puts you at a greater risk of botulism, a life-threatening condition caused by bacteria, so we do not recommend it.

In any case, you may need to slice the peppers into strips if they're too big. Once you've prepared them, simply drop your fresh peppers into an empty jar and pack them in as tight as possible. Next, add either canola or olive oil to preserve them. Screw the lid on tight—it must be airtight—and keep it in a dry and cool environment out of sunlight, and they'll be ready when you need them.

How to store chilies and peppers: long term

How to store chilies and peppers: long term

With a great harvest comes an abundance of peppers, but what do you do if you're not looking to use them anytime soon? Throw them out? Absolutely not! There are many ways you can preserve chilies over a longer period.

Pickling: 2–3+ months

It's not uncommon to see jars of pickled jalapeños in your local supermarket, and this is essentially the same principle we use for pickling chilies at home. All that's needed is a suitably sized jar and plenty of your finest peppers. But what do you pickle them in? Well, that part is easy. By mixing white or cider vinegar with water in a ratio of 2:1, you can create your own perfect brine for your peppers to sit in until you need them.

Begin by washing the peppers, and either slice them or leave them whole, depending on their size. If you leave them whole, you need to puncture them with a fork or skewer to prevent floating, and to allow the brine to permeate them. Once you've got them ready, drop them into the jar and top with your brine concoction. Note: there are special spice mixes available, or you can add custom mixes. Moreover, the brine should be hot to ensure the lid closes airtight. Tightly close the lid and keep your pickled peppers in the fridge until you fancy them. Might we recommend putting them on nachos for a spicy, flavourful hit?

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How To Pickle Hot Peppers

Drying: 6+ months

Another way of preserving your berries is to dry them out. While this will change their overall texture, it's definitely an option for those looking to keep their chilies for a long time. There are a few different ways to dry your chilies out. If you live in a hot climate, it's entirely possible to hang them on a string outside during the day and allow the sun to dry them out over the course of several days or weeks.

Otherwise, the use of a food dehydrator, or simply placing them on a baking tray in the oven for a couple of hours at a temperature of around 150°F (or 65°C), will easily be enough to dry them out. Once dried, place into a jar, and you'll have a selection of dehydrated chilies you can use as and when you please for well over 6 months. To make sure the chilies don't absorb moisture again, you can add some silica gel packets to the jar.

Related article

How To Dry Chilies And Sweet Peppers

Can you freeze chilies and peppers?

Can you freeze chilies and peppers?

Of course! As arguably the longest-lasting method of preserving peppers, your chilies can last around one year if frozen. There are a few different ways you can achieve this. One technique is similar to how they are stored in the fridge. Simply take your freezer bag or container of chilies and place it in the freezer. It really is as easy as that.

However, some cut up their chilies and place them into ice cube trays and cover with a little water. The result is a chili cube that's perfect for dropping into a cooking sauce. The applications are truly endless.

Related article

Can You Freeze Chilli Peppers?

What's the best way to store peppers and chilies?

What's the best way to store peppers and chilies?

Now that we've covered the bases of both short and long-term storage, which one is truly the best method of preservation? Ultimately, the “best” one is the one that best suits you, your setting, and overall preferences. Take all of these factors into consideration, and you simply can't go wrong. So whether you're looking to enjoy the fruits of your labour today, next week, or in 12 months time, there's a proper way to store your chili peppers so they're ready to go when you are.

Adam Parsons
Adam Parsons
Professional cannabis journalist, copywriter, and author Adam Parsons is a long-time staff member of Zamnesia. Tasked with covering a wide range of topics from CBD to psychedelics and everything in between, Adam creates blog posts, guides, and explores an ever-growing range of products.
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