If peppers are overwhelming your kitchen, here are a few simple ways to freeze and dry sweet bell and hot peppers.
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The peppers are coming! The peppers are coming!
So you grew a few pepper plants, perhaps for the first time, and now you’re thinking it’s the last time, because peppers are overwhelming your kitchen. And who wants delicious peppers to go to waste?
You’ve made as many stuffed peppers as you can take, you’ve added them to every omelette, scramble, and stir-fry; you’ve made a daring batch of spicy chili, and you still have a counter full.
Maybe you’re into canning and you’ve already made salsa, hot sauce, and pickled hot pepper rings. Yum! But not everyone has time for all of that, right, part-time homesteaders?
Push on, because these beauties on your counter should not go to waste. What you can do next is very easy. In fact, it might have you heading to the farmers’ market for just a few more, so you can eat more of summer in the dead of winter.
Since peppers are high in vitamins C and A (the ones that keep the sickies away), midwinter is a good time of year to have them.
In the spirit of EASY, here are a few simple ways to put peppers away by freezing and drying.
Main Materials Needed:
Freeze Bell Peppers (2 Ways)
1.) Freeze bell pepper halves now, eat stuffed peppers later.
- Rinse, cut in half, and remove stem and seeds.
- Place pepper halves on cookie sheet and freeze completely (30-60 minutes).
- Transfer to double-bagged freezer ziplock bag and use a straw to suck out extra air.
- Label the bag with contents and the date (This part is easier to do before it’s full). Pop them back into the freezer.
To use for stuffed peppers: Make up the stuffing and fill frozen pepper halves. Follow normal cooking instructions, no need to thaw.
Note: Some people blanch their peppers before freezing by boiling in water for 2-3 minutes, and then dunking them in ice water for the same amount of time. They are supposedly crisper in the finished, cooked product. I can’t tell a difference, so I skip this step for the sake of EASY.
2.) Freeze chopped bell peppers.
The main idea: Deseed, chop, and freeze. For more details, see my separate post about freezing chopped peppers.
To use: Add frozen chopped peppers to any cooked recipe that calls for diced/chopped peppers, no need to thaw.
Dry Bell Peppers
You will need a dehydrator for this part, but it’s oh-so-easy.
- Rinse, remove stem and seeds, and slice into 1/4-inch strips.
- Place strips on dehydrator trays.
- Dehydrate at 125 degrees F for 4-7 hours until leathery. Mine were done after 4 hours, but the instruction booklet that came with my dehydrator listed 7 hours, so always check regularly.
- Store dehydrated bell pepper strips in a glass jar. TIP: Add a silica gel packet from one of your vitamin or supplement bottles to soak up moisture, and they’ll keep longer. Or you could store them in the fridge for a year, easy. We used our non-electric mason jar vacuum sealer.
Use dried pepper strips as you would fresh peppers in cooked recipes. Some people like to rehydrate them in water for 30 minutes first, but I just toss them in, as is.
Oops! You forgot to check the dehydrator regularly and now your peppers are totally crispy. Have no fear! Use your coffee/spice grinder to make a pepper powder. Sprinkle it on anything you want pepper flavor, my favorite is an omelette, and it’s a no-brainer in soups.
Freezing and Drying HOT PEPPERS
There are so many varieties of hot peppers! I grow cayennes, jalapenos, and serranos.
Freeze Hot Peppers
This is how I preserve jalapenos and serranos.
- Rinse and dry with lint-free towel
- Freeze whole on cookie sheet (30-60 min)
- Pop in double-bagged ziplock freezer bag and suck out extra air with straw.
To use: Frozen hot peppers are surprisingly soft–no need to thaw! Chop and use them in any raw or cooked recipe as you would normally use them, as if they were fresh.
Dry Hot Peppers (2 Ways)
Some hot peppers are thick and meaty, while others have thin walls, and this affects drying time and quality. In my climate, cayennes are superior air-dried because of their thin walls and quick drying time, while jalapenos and serranos are better dehydrated or frozen.
1.) Air-drying cayenne peppers
- Place fresh-picked cayenne peppers in a dry, dark, cool spot with good air circulation. Hard to find? Improvise: I use wire shelves in a corner of my basement, and run a tiny fan on low to keep the air circulating.
- How long does it take for them to dry? Maybe a month or so. Check back weekly until they are no longer pliable, then chuck them in a glass jar, and label with the date. These will keep for years if vacuum sealed.
(1) Make cayenne pepper powder using your coffee/spice grinder. You will be amazed by the bright red color and realize how old the powder is that you get at the store. Here’s a video of me making cayenne powder.
Or (2) Rehydrate in water for 30 minutes and use as recipes call for them.
2.) Dehydrate hot peppers (jalapenos and serranos)
- Rinse, cut off stems, and dice (wear gloves!)
- Dehydrate at 125 degrees F until leathery, or if you want to make powder with them, dry until crispy, for 4-7 hours.
- Store in LABELED glass jars, with silica gel moisture absorbers, if you have them.
To use: Make powder or use them as is in cooked recipes.
Now you won’t be afraid to pick a peck of peppers!
How do you save your peppers?