Q. I planted a few pots of hot peppers this summer, and got a bigger bounty than I had expected. I am planning to dry some of them, pickle some, and make hot sauce out of some, but I will still have some left over. I know that peppers are a pretty hardy plant and can withstand a lot, but I don’t know if they can be frozen. Someone told me that the flavour gets stronger with freezing, which would actually be a good thing since I like my food spicy! So, can you freeze hot peppers?
A. Yes, you can freeze hot peppers. You can actually freeze any type of pepper, but hot peppers freeze particularly well. This is primarily since hot peppers tend to be smaller than other types of peppers, such as bell or shepherd. The high water content of peppers can result in them becoming softer and less crisp after being thawed, but since hot peppers are so small, it’s not very noticeable. Also, hot peppers are most often used as a garnish, not the main star of the dish, so it tends to be sliced or minced into food anyway.
How to freeze hot peppers?
It is true that the heat of hot peppers gets intensified once frozen, so if you like your peppers extra spicy, this may be a great storage option for you. It’s quick, easy, and keeps hot peppers fresh for a long time.
To freeze hot peppers, start with peppers that are still fresh and firm to the touch. Discard any peppers that are blemished or beginning to wilt. Wash peppers carefully and then dry completely. Leaving peppers damp before freezing can result in freezer burn. You can freeze hot peppers whole, leaving on the stem, or you can remove the stem. To freeze whole hot peppers, simply toss them in a freezer bag, remove the excess air, and then seal the bag. Label and date it and use within one year.
If you don’t want to get your hands dirty chopping up hot peppers after thawing, consider slicing them before you freeze them. Use gloves or make sure to wash your hands well with soap after slicing. Slice peppers into desired size, either in rings or lengthwise. Place the slices on a baking sheet in the freezer until hard to prevent clumping. Then, slide them into freezer bags, seal, label, and date them. Use directly from the freezer or thaw first.