We have had an incredibly hot, dry summer this year. Which has resulted in a bounty of fresh bell peppers and hot peppers. While I enjoy eating plenty of fresh peppers, we always try to preserve some for use in the winter. Freezing peppers is quick and easy and one of the few fruits that don’t need blanching first.
We prefer freezing over canning as this method retains flavor (whether sweet or hot) and some of their crispness. While they won’t be quite as crisp as they were fresh, they don’t get terribly soggy, either. Frozen peppers can be used in dishes raw or cooked dishes… the choice is really your own.
How to Freeze Fresh Peppers
You can freeze both bell (sweet) peppers and hot peppers. They’ll retain their flavor and most of their crispness, though… they may not yield to your knife once thawed, so you’ll want to freeze them in the form you plan to use them.
By chopping, halving, slicing your peppers it will also make it much easier to just grab what you need out of the container in the amount you need instead of needing to make up several containers with proper measurements in them.
- You will want to select ripe, fresh peppers. You don’t want peppers that have soft spots in them for freezing. Set these to the side to use now or in something else. Soft peppers just don’t freeze very well.
- 2. Once you’ve picked your peppers, go ahead and wash them. Then, you’ll slice them the way you want to use them. We usually do a mix of whole, halved, sliced, rings, diced, and quarters.
- To freeze peppers whole you’ll simply cut off the tops and scoop out the seeds. If freezing hot peppers, you do not have to remove the seeds if you don’t want to (if you plan to throw a whole pepper into a recipe and simply want it for the heat). We halve a lot of chili peppers to make chili rellenos and jalapeños to make jalapeno poppers. It’s also nice to top bell peppers, scoop out the seeds and freeze them for stuffed peppers later on. They’re really easy to stuff while they’re still frozen, which is always a bonus.
- Regardless of how you prepare your peppers, slice them then, give them another quick rinse. Dry them off as best as you can, then lay them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper in a single layer.
- Place the peppers in the freezer for about 8 hours, then simply transfer them to freezer bags, remove as much of the air as possible, and place them back in the freezer for later use. By sheet freezing them first, they won’t stick together and this makes life easier.
How to Use Frozen Peppers
Like I said, depending on how you slice them you can use frozen peppers in a lot of different ways. Halved hot peppers are perfect for things like chili rellenos and jalapeño poppers. Whole bell peppers that have the insides scooped out make great stuffed peppers.
Your frozen peppers will be really close to fresh with a slightly different texture, but not too much different. The flavor will be the same with heat retained in hot peppers.
You can use these just as you would fresh for things like stir fries, to throw into some taco meat, or even raw and put into salads.
How Long do Frozen Peppers Keep?
It’s best if you use peppers up within 6 months. Peppers less than 6 months old are going to retain the best flavor and texture, but they will keep up to a year before their flavor and texture is too far gone and/or they succumb to freezer burn.
If you’re placing your peppers in the freezer of your refrigerator, put them as far back as you can, this is the coldest place in the freezer. For deep freezers, put them in the bottom to keep them nice and cold. This will help prolong their shelf-life.
Another way to ensure they don’t succumb to freezer burn too early is to make sure you get as much air as possible out of the ziploc bag. Or, alternatively, you can use a vacuum sealer. The only downside to the vacuum sealer is you have to open the bag to get servings out which means it will be easier to measure out individual servings instead of throwing your diced peppers into a bag.
Freezing peppers is really easy, especially considering you don’t have to blanch them. You can simply cut off the tops if you want to, or you can cut them into pieces, or a variety of different ways. It makes meal prep easier and gives you delicious peppers into the winter.
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