Every year as the garden season begins to wind down we find ourselves searching for ways to preserve the plethora of late-season peppers that are still ripening on our plants. From jalapeno and banana peppers, green and red bell peppers, and hot chili peppers there are still several dozen to pick.
Although we have used the peppers to make canned pepper rings, and cowboy candy, and have used them in our salsa and pasta sauce recipes, we now find ourselves finding other creative ways to preserve them for use throughout the year. But this time, without the need for canning.
By late September, the canning jars are filled and the canning pantry is stocked full. Therefore, it is time to put away both our water bath canner and pressure canner for the year.
However, that leads to the dilemma of what to do with the remaining peppers that will be ripening over the next few weeks. Of course, we will use as many fresh peppers in our daily meals, including omelets, stuffed pepper casserole, and chili.
However, we all know that will only require a few peppers. So that leads us to find other ways to save the peppers.
How To Preserve Peppers
1. FREEZING PEPPERS
One of our favorite ways to preserve peppers without canning is to freeze them. You can freeze all types of peppers and it is super easy.
Of course, they will not be as crisp as a fresh pepper when they thaw. However, they are great to use in recipes such as soups, stews, casseroles, and more!
In the freezer, we store sliced bell peppers, whole hot peppers, and roasted red peppers. We even store-cooked stuffed bell peppers for an easy comfort food meal in the middle of winter!
Sliced Bell Peppers
For the bell peppers, cut the top off and remove the stems and seeds. Then cut each pepper into thin slices.
Place the pepper strips on a baking sheet spaced evenly apart and flash-freeze them for 15-30 minutes. This freezing method will help keep the peppers from sticking together. Next, move them to an air-tight freezer container or store them in Food Saver bags for long-term storage.
Freeze A Meal or Appetizer
Another one of our favorite ways to preserve peppers without canning is to make an already-cooked meal or appetizer. From soups to stuffed peppers, it is a great way to enjoy your garden fresh peppers all year long!
In order to preserve stuffed green peppers we recommend that you cook them first. However, it is best to make your stuffed peppers recipe without the tomato sauce/soup in the bottom of your pan.
The peppers will get too soggy if they sit in a lot of liquid during the cooking process. Also, it is best to cook them just to the point that the peppers remain firm and aren’t collapsing.
This will help the peppers retain their shape when reheated later. Once they are out of the oven let them cool to room temperature.
Then flash freeze them by placing them on a baking sheet and putting them in the freezer. Once they are frozen solid, place them in an air-tight container or a Food Saver Bag and seal them.
We also freeze-stuffed jalapeño poppers and cherry bomb peppers for appetizers. However, do not bake them prior to freezing. Simply stuff them and freeze them and at your Super Bowl party, you can pull them out and impress everyone!
However, the quickest and easiest way to preserve peppers without canning is to freeze them whole. We literally can pick our peppers, wash them, and have them stored in the freezer in a matter of a few minutes.
This is our preferred method for freezing hot peppers. Because we don’t tend to use more than one or two hot peppers for a single recipe, we freeze them in resealable freezer bags.
This allows you to easily access individual peppers throughout the year whenever needed.
In our freezer, we will have bags of jalapeños, hot banana peppers, and red cherry bombs. We also will freeze Shishito peppers so we can have our favorite and healthy appetizer any time of the year!
2. PRESERVE BY DEHYDRATING PEPPERS
Another great method to preserve peppers is to dehydrate them. All varieties of peppers can be dehydrated and it’s a great way to preserve peppers without canning.
There are basically three ways to dehydrate peppers. Place them in a hot, dry, sunny area, put them in a dehydrator at 125°F, or in the oven placed on the lowest setting. The important thing to remember is that peppers will dry based on their water content, size, and the humidity in the air so the time it takes will vary.
The thicker the pepper and the more humid it is, the longer it will take for them to lose their water content. Therefore for large peppers, it is best to remove the stem, seeds, and ribs and cut them into slices or chunks.
In addition, it is helpful to dry peppers of similar size together to reduce the amount of attention that you need to devote to removing peppers that get done quicker than the others.
Dehydrating Whole Peppers
You can also dry small peppers, like the Chinese 5 Color, cayenne, or habanero peppers whole. However, to speed up the drying process I still prefer to remove the top and stem.
*Side Note – When cutting a large amount of hot chili peppers wear gloves to prevent your hands from burning.
The choice to remove the seeds is up to you. You can remove the seeds before dehydrating if you prefer. However, once the peppers are dehydrated, the seeds shake out easily.
Now you can store your peppers in an air-tight container in a low humidity environment for several months. Or if you live in a humid area it is best to store them in the freezer.
However, you can also turn those dehydrated peppers into pepper flakes or pepper powder. To do this place the dried peppers in a coffee grinder and pulse until a fine powder forms.
However, be sure to do this in a well-ventilated area. Depending on the type of pepper used, the smell of the pepper powder can be quite overwhelming.
3. Make Chipotle Peppers
Finally, one of our favorite ways to preserve jalapeno peppers without canning is to turn them into Chipotle Peppers.
Chipotle peppers are made from over-ripe jalapeños that have turned red. Simply place the whole red jalapeño peppers in a smoker and cook at a low temperature until dried.
Then store the peppers in an air-tight container in your pantry until you are ready to use them.
You can even make your own Chipotle in Adobo Sauce and freeze it for later use and make an amazing Chipotle Sauce that can be used as a dipping sauce for chicken or as a condiment for your favorite sandwich or burger.
There you have it! Several great ways to preserve peppers without canning. It is an easy way to enjoy the benefits of all your hard work in the garden, even in the middle of winter!
Mary and Jim
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