Each year, as our summer garden begins to wind down, we find ourselves searching for ways to preserve peppers without canning them.
And this year is no different. We have spent the last several weeks canning jalapeño and banana pepper rings, our famous Cowboy Candy peppers and even sweet pepper jam.
We have also used several of our bell and hot peppers in our Canned Pasta Sauce, Salsa and Picante recipes as well. And at this point in the garden season, we are out of canning jars and room to store them!
Although Jim built me a canning jar cabinet that holds over 196 pint jars, we still have filled mason jars overflowing into our pantry, kitchen shelves and even a new store-bought shelf.
And when I walked through the garden this morning, I laughed as I realized that we still have a ton of ripe peppers ready to be picked and preserved.
So now we are focused on how to these preserve peppers by freezing or drying them.
How To Preserve Peppers
1. FREEZING PEPPERS
One of our favorite ways to preserve peppers without canning is to freeze them. You can freeze all types of peppers and it is super easy.
Of course they will not be as crisp as a fresh pepper when they thaw. However, they are great to use in recipes such as soups, stews, casseroles and more!
In the freezer we store sliced bell peppers, whole hot peppers and roasted red peppers. We even store cooked stuffed bell peppers for an easy to warm up meal in the middle of winter!
Sliced Bell Peppers
For the bell peppers, cut the top off and remove the stems and seeds. Then cut each pepper into thin slices.
Place the pepper strips on a baking sheet spaced evenly apart and flash freeze them for 15-30 minutes. This freezing method will help keep the peppers from sticking together. Next, move them to air tight freezer safe containers or bags for long term storage.
Freeze A Meal or Appetizer
Another one of our favorite ways to preserve peppers without canning is to make an already cooked meal! From soups to stuffed peppers, it is a great way enjoy your garden fresh peppers all year long!
In order to preserve stuffed green peppers we recommend that you cook them first. However make your stuffed peppers recipe without the tomato sauce/soup in the bottom of your pan.
They will get too soggy if they sit in a lot of liquid during the cooking process.
After the peppers have cooked to al dente consistency, remove them from the oven and allow them cool completely.
Then flash freeze them by placing them on baking sheet. Once they are frozen solid, place in an air-tight container or a Food Saver Bag.
*We also do this will stuffed jalapeño poppers. However, we do not bake them prior to freezing.
However, the quickest and easiest way to preserve peppers without canning is to freeze them whole.
We literally can pick our peppers, wash them and have them stored in the freezer in a matter of a few minutes.
This is our preferred method for freezing hot peppers. Because we don’t tend to use more than one or two hot peppers for a single recipe, we freeze them in resealable freezer bags.
This allows you to easily access individual peppers throughout the year whenever needed.
In our freezer we will have bags of jalapeños, hot banana peppers, and red cherry bombs. We also will freeze Shishito peppers so we can have our favorite and healthy appetizer any time of the year!
2. DEHYDRATING PEPPERS
We frequently talk about drying and grinding down our Chinese 5 Color peppers into pepper flakes and powder. However, peppers of all kinds can be dehydrated and it’s a great way to preserve peppers without canning.
You can dry peppers in a hot and sunny area, in a dehydrator at 125°F or in the oven on the lowest setting. The important thing to remember is that peppers will dry based on their water content, size, and the humidity in the air.
The thicker the pepper and the more humid it is, the longer it will take for them to lose their water content. Therefore for large peppers, remove the stem, seeds and ribs and cut into slices or chunks.
Dry peppers of similar size together to reduce the amount of attention that you need to devote to remove peppers that get done quicker than the others.
Dehydrating Whole Peppers
You can dry small peppers, like the Chinese 5 Color, cayenne, or habanero peppers whole. However, to speed up the drying process we prefer to remove the top and stem, using gloves of course.
The choice to remove the seeds is up to you. You can remove the seeds before dehydrating if you prefer. Or once the peppers are dehydrated, they shake out easily. This is a great method to use if you are making hot pepper powder.
Once the hot peppers are dried, they should be nice and crunchy to the touch. Place them in a coffee grinder and pulse until a fine powder forms. *Be sure to do this in a well-ventilated area.
3. Make Chipotle Peppers
Finally, one of our favorite ways to preserve peppers without canning is to make Chipotle Peppers.
Chipotle peppers are made from over-ripe jalapeños that have turned red. Simply place the whole red jalapeño peppers in a smoker and cook at a low temperature until dried.
Then store the peppers in an air-tight container in your pantry until you are ready to use.
You can even make your own Chipotle in Adobo Sauce and freeze it for later use.
Preserving peppers without canning is an easy way to enjoy the benefits of all your hard work in the garden, even in the middle of winter!
Mary and Jim
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