Have some bell peppers and you aren’t sure of their freshness? How long do bell peppers last, really?
Bell peppers have a limited shelf life like all fresh produce. While the type of pepper can affect shelf life, how they are stored can have an even greater effect. Other factors that affect how long bell peppers last include whether they are whole or have been cut and whether they are being stored at room temperature, in the refrigerator, or the freezer. Let’s break down the scenarios.
How long do bell peppers last (whole and cut) when they are kept at room temperature on a countertop?
Bell peppers last for a relatively short time when you store them at room temperature. Typically, whole fresh bell peppers will not last more than five days. That time can be considerably shorter depending on how long has passed since it was harvested. Fresher bell peppers will last longer than those that have spent more time in shipping and storage.
Cutting a bell pepper reduces how long it will last without refrigeration. Spoilage is a result of bacterial growth among other things. Cutting the bell peppers exposes the inner flesh of the bell pepper to the microbes from the air and the surface of the fruit thus speeding up the rate at which it spoils. Enzymes within the fruit that are activated during harvest will also begin the spoiling process.
Placing a cut bell pepper out on the counter for a short time probably won’t cause it to spoil instantly but it can dramatically shorten its usable life. Experts recommend cutting bell peppers only when you intend to eat them immediately. As with any other food, bell peppers have the potential to host microbes that can make you sick.
The most conservative estimates for how long cut bell peppers can last on your counter aren’t longer than a couple of hours. In other words, you should consider tossing your cut bell pepper if it has been out on the counter for longer than two hours.
How long do bell peppers last (whole and cut) when refrigerated?
Like most fruits and vegetables, bell peppers will last the longest when they are refrigerated.
Whole bell peppers can last for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. The actual shelf life can vary based on time spent in transit and on grocery store shelves.
Cutting bell peppers will greatly shorten their shelf life even in the refrigerator. The bacteria will still cause it to spoil but at a slower rate since the lower temperature makes them less active. You will get three days at most from cut bell peppers in the refrigerator.
To maximize their shelf life you should take steps to store them correctly. Store your cut bell peppers in a sealable container or you can wrap them in a paper towel to keep them dry and place them in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer.
How long do bell peppers last (whole and cut) in the freezer?
Whole bell peppers will last the longest in the freezer. When properly frozen, they can last more than a year. They can remain safe to eat indefinitely but you should try to eat them within the first year, which is when they are at their best in terms of flavor and appearance. The freezer’s ultra-low temperatures slow the enzymatic and bacterial reactions that cause spoilage even more than storing foods in the refrigerator.
Cut bell peppers will last about the same length of time as whole bell peppers when they are frozen.
For more information on freezing bell peppers, take a look at our post here.