I was making something the other night–I think it was Shrimp with Garlic and Chili (it was fantastic–I’m planning on a blog entry about it sometime soon)–and the recipe called for a couple of hot peppers. Probably jalapeno; that’s what they usually ask for. And as I was chopping my pepper, I thought, hey, I should share my pepper storage method. I mean, maybe it’s a complete no-brainer, but it works like a charm, and maybe some of you haven’t tried it.
It’s the very soul of simplicity (obviously, since I do it). When you pick your hot peppers from the garden (or when you get them home from the farmers market or the grocery store), you just wash them and put them in a freezer bag. In the freezer. End of story.
See how easy that was?
And the great thing about small peppers is that when you take them out the freezer they are none the worse for wear. We don’t typically use hot peppers for texture, we use them for heat. So it really doesn’t matter that when they thaw they get a little mushy–by that point I’ve chopped them up really fine and tossed them in whatever I’m making.
Last year we grew these cayenne peppers and some jalapenos–I don’t necessarily feel the need to separate the different varieties when I freeze them, but I think I just had enough of both this particular time that I simply put one kind in each freezer bag.
So all I do when I need one or two hot peppers is grab them from the freezer bag, chop the tops off, cut them down the center, and run them under the water while running my fingernail down the middle to remove the ribs and seeds. Then I just chop the halves and put them in the pot. Or frying pan. Or whatever.
When you store peppers this way, they can tend to build up quite a bit of ice inside the bag, eventually, but these particular ones have been in the freezer since August, and you can see they’re still very usable–almost like fresh. They will probably last at least another six months, if I don’t use them up before that.