Storing and Preserving Peppers
Green peppers and hot peppers can be stored for the winter in a variety of ways by freezing, drying, and canning. This segment demonstrates how easy it is to preserve your peppers so that you can spice up your cooking for many months to come.
Produced by the Department of Communications at Kansas State University. For more information, visit our website at: http://www.kansasgreenyards.org
Storing and Preserving Peppers
In late summer or early fall, when you have an abundance of peppers in your garden, you may want to consider different options for storing or preserving those peppers for use in the winter. Three different methods that you can use for storing your peppers include freezing, drying, or different types of canning.
For bell peppers, one of the easiest things to do is to freeze the peppers. It’s best to wash them, take the tops off, pull the seeds out, and then either slice them or chop them into small pieces that you can use in a variety of dishes later on.
Bell peppers don’t need to be blanched before freezing. So, you can just chop them into the size you want, and then put them in an airtight container or plastic bag and put them in the freezer. Once you’ve frozen bell peppers, and then thawed, they won’t be crispy anymore. So, you’ll need to plan to use them in cooked dishes.
You can also roast the peppers by putting them in the oven and toasting. Then, you can chop them up and freeze them.
A lot of hot peppers can dry easily. If you are growing very hot peppers such as Thai chilies or cayenne peppers, they may start to naturally dry on the plant. Or, when you pick them after they’ve turned red, yellow, or orange and let them set on the countertop, they’ll dry naturally.
Other types of hot peppers can be dried by using a dehydrator or by putting them in an oven in an extremely low temperature. Once the peppers are thoroughly dried and crispy, you can grind them to use as pepper flakes, or you can grind them finer and use them as a chili powder.
With hot peppers, a lot of the heat is stored in the seeds and the membrane. So, if you want to reduce the heat of your dried chili peppers, you would want to remove the seeds and then only grind the flesh of the chili pepper once it’s dried. Removing the stems is an important thing to do, but it can be done before or after drying.
Another option with peppers is to put them in a dehydrator, and then reconstitute it by soaking it in warm water before using.
All kinds of peppers can be canned. You can make pickled peppers either with bell peppers or with hot peppers. You can make roasted peppers and can them in a non-pickled situation. Or, you can turn your peppers into a delightful relish or salsa, or even a hot pepper jelly or butter. These are all great options for preserving your peppers through canning.
This feature story prepared with Rebecca McMahon, Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent, Sedgwick County. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.