Are homegrown vegetables overwhelming your kitchen? Freezing and drying peppers can be a great way to preserve both bell peppers and hot peppers.
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Don’t let those beauties on your counter go to waste. Freezing and drying peppers is very easy. In fact, it might have you heading to the farmers’ market for more, so you can be one of the lucky few that gets to eat homegrown vegetables in the middle of winter.
First, I’ll walk you through freezing and drying bell peppers, and then I’ll show you how to freeze and dry hot peppers. (The methods for processing bell peppers and hot peppers differ a bit).
Main Kitchen Appliances Needed:
Freezing and Drying Peppers (Bell)
First, let’s look at freezing bell peppers.
Freezing Bell Peppers (2 Ways)
1.) Freeze Bell Pepper Halves
(… and eat stuffed peppers later!)
Here’s how to do it:
- Rinse peppers, cut them in half, and remove stem and seeds.
- Place pepper halves on a cookie sheet and freeze completely (30-60 minutes).
- Label a freezer ziplock bag with contents and the date. (Hint: This part is easier to do before it’s full).
- Transfer to double-bagged freezer ziplock bag. I like to use one of my stainless steel straws to suck out extra air.
- Pop them back into the freezer.
To use the pepper halves for stuffed peppers:
Make up the stuffing and fill frozen pepper halves. Follow normal cooking instructions, no need to thaw pepper halves first.
Note: Some people blanch their peppers before freezing. To do this, boil them in water for 2-3 minutes, and then dunk them in ice water for the same amount of time. They are supposedly crisper in the finished, cooked product. Because I can’t tell a difference, so I skip this step for the sake of EASY.
2.) Freeze Chopped Bell Peppers
Here’s the thing: If you throw a bunch of chopped peppers straight into the freezer, they’ll freeze together into one big clump, which makes them hard to use.
Use the ‘Tray Freezing’ method:
- Remove stems, seeds, and membranes, and chop the peppers.
- Arrange the chopped peppers in a single layer on a cookie sheet with sides. (I like my jelly roll pan.)
- Carefully lay the cookie sheet flat in the freezer for one hour.
- Transfer frozen chopped peppers to a LABELED (contents + year) plastic freezer bag. Release as much air from the bag as possible.
- Place the bag of frozen chopped peppers back in the freezer. The chopped peppers won’t stick together.
- Repeat! It may require a few batches to get all of the peppers frozen since there is limited space in my freezer for cookie sheets.
Note: The tray freezing method works for other vegetables, too! Try it with corn, broccoli, or green beans, for example. (Be aware that these vegetables do better when blanched first.)
How to Use Frozen Chopped Peppers:
Easy! Add them to any cooked recipe that calls for diced/chopped peppers, no need to thaw. Examples are soups, stews, stir frys, casseroles, omelettes, quiche, frittatas, and meatloaf.
Drying Bell Peppers
Thick-walled peppers are going to be best for this process. Note that using a dehydrator is best for drying bell peppers.
How to do it:
- Wash the peppers and remove the stems, seeds, and membranes.
- Cut into 1/4″ strips or rings.
- Lay the pepper pieces in a single layer on the dehydrator trays.
- Dry at 125 degrees Fahrenheit until they are leathery. This could take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours. Mine are usually done after 4 hours, but the instruction booklet that came with my dehydrator listed 7 hours for my location, 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.
Oops! You forgot to check the dehydrator regularly and now your peppers are totally crispy instead of leathery. 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.
How to Use Dehydrated Bell Pepper Strips:
Add them dry to soups and stews when the liquid is added. They will naturally rehydrate during the cooking process. Or rehydrate the dried peppers in boiling water, and add them to any other cooked meal, like stir frys, casseroles, or omelettes.
Freezing and Drying Peppers (Hot)
First, let’s look at freezing hot peppers.
Freezing Hot Peppers
This is how I preserve varieties like 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 store them in the freezer.
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.
Drying Hot Peppers (2 Ways)
Some hot peppers are thick and meaty, while others have thin walls. This affects drying time and quality. In my climate, cayennes are superior when air-dried rather than dehydrated because of their thin walls and quick drying time, while jalapenos and serranos are better dehydrated or frozen.
1.) Air-drying cayenne peppers
Here’s how to do it:
- 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 completely? 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.
To use dried cayenne peppers:
(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 buy at the store! Here’s a video of me making cayenne powder.
Or (2) Rehydrate dried cayenne peppers in water for 30 minutes and use in recipes as if they were fresh.
2.) Dehydrate hot peppers (jalapenos and serranos)
Here’s how to do it:
- Rinse the peppers, 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.
Make a hot pepper powder or use them as is in cooked recipes.
Now that you have these tips for freezing and drying peppers, you won’t be afraid to pick a peck of peppers!
Need more homestead kitchen ideas?
Are you looking for strategies for your permaculture garden? You’ll find loads of information in my book, The Suburban Micro-Farm.
How do you save your peppers?