Freezing peppers from the garden is one of the easiest and most effective ways to preserve your chillies, allowing you to enjoy your homegrown peppers throughout the winter, and if you are lucky right through until next years crop is ripe.
Both sweet peppers and hot chillies freeze well so long as you follow some simple advice.
Why Bother To Freeze Your Peppers?
If you are growing peppers in a relatively cool climate like me (in Northern Europe) you’ll be only to aware that the growing season is short. Slower growing varieties such as Habanero, Naga, Scotch Bonnet etc can take several weeks to ripen meaning that many of us chilli growers end up with a large glut of ripe fruit near the end of summer, too many to consume before they spoil.
image by jeffsmallwood
I’m ashamed to say that in the first year or two I wasted quite a few peppers by either not picking them when ripe (which stimulates the plants to grow more) or simply not using all of the fresh chilies I had picked.
Frozen peppers taste fresher than dried peppers. If you want to try and retain that fresh pepper taste from
How To Freeze Chillies
Be sure to wash your peppers thoroughly and allow to dry before preparing them for freezing. You can help them to dry by spreading them out and lightly patting with a tea towel.
We get a lot of questions about whether you should take the seeds out of chillies before freezing them. There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this one. I usually freeze small peppers whole, no de-seeding or slicing, just wash them, drain them and freeze them in freezer bags.
For larger varieties or some crops that have large internal membranes with loads of seeds I opt to slice them in half and de-seed them prior to freezing. The choice of de-seeding or not is purely yours, I tend to do what I would do if i were using the chillies fresh.
If chopping the chillies they can sometimes freeze together inside the freezer bags into a big solid chilli ball which is rather unhelpful when you want to take one or two out of the freezer for cooking. To avoid this I first lay out the chillies on a backing tray and place in the freezer for 2 hours.
Once frozen I remove them and bag them up into sealable freezer bags before popping back in the freezer. Be sure to label the freezer bag with the variety of peppers/chillies and the date you froze them.
How Long Do Frozen Chillies Last?
Again a tough one to answer. Consult the manual of your freezer and it will probably say fresh fruit and vegetables should be used within 3 months of freezing. I have used frozen peppers that have been frozen for up to a year and have not had any problems or experienced any loss of taste.
A Quick Tip: Use Ice Cube Trays
If you always tend to use finely chopped chillies when cooking then it can make a lot of sense to chop them prior to freezing them and split them into portions of similar size to what you use in cooking.
One great way of making frozen chillies easier to cook with is to put freshly chopped chillies into an ice cube tray with a enough water to cover them and freeze. Next time you are cooking and want some chilli just pop in however many chilli cubes you need!
Use Good Quality Freezer Bags
I’ve read quite a few times that one factor that can affect how long your frozen fruit and veg will last is the quality of freezer bags you use. The thicker the bag, the less ‘freezer burn’ will damage the peppers over time and the longer they will last. I guess this makes sense but i’ve never really experienced any issues.
image by bigtypelittletype
Blanching Peppers Before Freezing
All vegetables naturally contain enzymes and bacteria that over time destroy the nutritional value and flavour, even when frozen. If freezing larger, softer fruit like bell peppers or sweet peppers it can pay to blanche them in hot water prior to freezing. This will kill off the enzymes and bacteria meaning they’ll keep longer in the freezer and taste fresher when used.
To blanche peppers you’ll need to remove the stems, cut in half and de-seed them. Bring a pan of water to the boil and plunge in the peppers and remove after 1 minute. Immediately place the peppers in a bowl of ice cold water (to remover the heat and stop them cooking further). Drain off thoroughly before freezing as usual.