Peppers contain a lot of water and they will dry up quickly or rot if you fail to store them correctly. Keep in mind that for any storage method used on produce to work, you need to start out with fresh produce. Whether they are hot or sweet, the peppers you plan to store should be firm to the touch without any wrinkling of the skin. You should also inspect them for signs of damage from insects and any other bruises or blemishes. That said, how do you keep as much of that delicious “just picked” taste as possible when you aren’t cooking right away? Let’s review how to keep peppers fresh, whether whole or chopped.
How to keep whole peppers fresh
If you plan to store your peppers whole, do not wash them. When you bring fresh peppers home from the grocery store, simply place them into micro-perforated plastic bags or produce bags (like PeakFresh produce bags). These bags are designed to breathe in order to release the gasses that the peppers produce. When trapped, those gasses can speed up the ripening and subsequent spoilage of your peppers. These bags will also limit condensation and the growth of bacteria, thus helping to keep the peppers at the peak of freshness for longer.
You can store your bagged peppers in your refrigerator’s crisper compartment. Remember to wash your peppers before eating them. Peppers stored like this should stay fresh for up to 2 weeks.
How to keep chopped peppers fresh
Cutting peppers makes them more susceptible to spoilage, especially if you store them at room temperature. Peppers also tend to lose their crunch quickly once you cut them. Do not expect them to last much longer than about three days, even in the refrigerator.
In order to keep your cut peppers from going limp and to preserve their fresh flavor, there are steps that you can take. Start by washing your peppers before cutting them. Next, you will want to use a sharp knife to cut them since a dull knife can bruise their exteriors. For bell peppers, remove the seeds and pith. You can leave those in with hot peppers if you want to preserve their heat. Wrap the pieces of pepper in a paper towel and place them in an airtight container. Pour enough cold water into the container to saturate the paper towel, then seal the container and place it in a refrigerator. The pepper pieces should stay fresh for up to a week.
No time for fresh? How to freeze peppers
Peppers can stay fresh for a long time in the freezer as long as you use the right measures to protect them from freezer burn. To freeze peppers effectively, the traditional method is to first blanch them. Blanching involves boiling the peppers for a short period and then placing them into iced water immediately. You can put your blanched peppers into freezer bags for long-term storage.
You can store blanched and frozen peppers for up to a year without their quality diminishing, but that is just for the best possible quality. They will be usable indefinitely as long as you keep them at a consistent temperature of 0 degrees F.
It also is possible to freeze peppers without the blanching process. You can do this by cutting them, placing them on cookie sheets and freezing the pieces before placing them into freezer bags for long-term storage. This method is a little more time-consuming but is good for preserving them while also protecting them from freezer damage.