Throughout the late summer and early fall, you can enjoy crisp peppers fresh off the vine. However, if you want to enjoy peppers in dishes throughout the winter, spring and summer before the next harvest, you will need to preserve batches of peppers. You may preserve peppers in four different ways: freezing, canning, pickling and drying. Choose a preservation method that works best for you, depending on the preservation tools you have available and the accessible space you have for storing the peppers.
Harvest firm peppers when green, yellow or red. Clean peppers to remove dirt and debris and dry thoroughly with a towel.
Cut large peppers into quarters and leave small peppers whole to pack more peppers into each can. When you cut open large peppers, remove and discard the seeds and core.
Pack cut peppers into quart, pint and gallon jars. Leave approximately 1 inch of space at the top of each jar. Cover the peppers in each jar by adding boiling water, if you do not want to pickle the peppers.
Pickle the peppers by adding a pickling solution to cover the tops of the peppers in the jar. You may make your own pickling solution by combining vinegar and water. Add an equal amount of both water and vinegar or add more vinegar than water to suit your tastes. Add pickling or canning salt as desired.
Place the flat jar lids on top of the lids and set the filled and covered jars inside a water pressure canner on your stove. The jars should sit on top of the jar rack inside the canner and in 2 inches of water.
Fasten the lid on the full pressure canner and turn your stove burner onto the highest setting. Allow steam to exhaust from the top of the canner for 10 minutes before attaching the pressure gauge or closing the top vent.
Allow the cans of peppers to sit inside the pressurised canner until the can lids seal onto the tops of the jars. A boiling water canner will require 10 to 20 minutes to process and seal the cans; exact time depends upon jar size, packing style and the pepper product in the jar.
Regulate the heat of the canner at 180F. Remove from heat when the processing time ends and wait for the jars to cool before removing from the canner.
Harvest green, yellow or mature peppers and prepare for freezing. Wash all dirt and debris and cut peppers into pieces, if desired. Dry the peppers with a towel to remove excess water that may cause rotting when drying or freezer burn during freezing.
Placing whole or cut pieces in freezer bags to protect against freezer burn. Separate cut peppers into serving-sized bags to add to chilli, stir-fry and other spices dishes or fill gallon freezer bags with whole peppers to use in stuffed pepper dishes. Put the freezer bags in the freezer.
Dry the peppers using one of three common vegetable and fruit drying methods. Spread the peppers out on a dry towel or on a wire mesh rack for two or more weeks until shrivelled and crisp. As a second option, string the peppers onto a section of unused fishing line by puncturing the fruit with a needle. Tie the string in a dry, humidity-free location inside your home to protect the peppers against insect pests while drying for two or more weeks. To reduce drying time to one or two days, dry peppers in a food dehydrator if one is available.
Store dried peppers in airtight containers or freezer bags; place in your freezer.
Rehydrate dried peppers for use by soaking them in water for 5 minutes before draining and adding to dishes.
Wear gloves to handle hot peppers. Do not touch your face and eyes after handling peppers to prevent irritation to the skin and eyes. Peppers will not retain crispness when dried or frozen.
Tips and warnings
- Rehydrate dried peppers for use by soaking them in water for 5 minutes before draining and adding to dishes.
- Wear gloves to handle hot peppers.
- Do not touch your face and eyes after handling peppers to prevent irritation to the skin and eyes.
- Peppers will not retain crispness when dried or frozen.
- Kansas State University Research and Extension; Preserving Peppers; Karen Blakeslee; October 2010
- West Virginia University Extension Service; Let's Preserve Peppers; 1999
- Oregon State University Extension Service; Preserving Foods - Peppers; May 2009
- Iowa State University Extension; Drying Hot Peppers; Richard Jauron; July 1999