If you grow your own chili peppers or have found a bulk supply at your local farmers’ market, you may need to preserve them in order to protect their flavor, heat, and nutrition until you’re ready to eat them.
How do you preserve green chilies? You can store fresh green chilies in the fridge in an airtight container with paper towels inside. If properly stored, they can last up to 3 weeks. You can extend the lifespan much further if you dry, freeze, pickle, or can green chilies instead.
Each of these preservation methods requires different equipment and skillsets, and will have slightly different results. Deciding how to preserve your chilies will depend both on what you have available to you for storage and how you plan on using them in the future.
In this article, we’ll share step-by-step instructions to teach you exactly how to preserve green chilies – the best way, and just about every other way!
What Are Green Chilies?
Most chili peppers are green when they are young and immature and are therefore considered green chilies. They may ripen to red, yellow, or even purple over time, but when they’re young, they’re considered green chilies.
For spicy pepper, the intensity of the heat develops as the fruit ripens, only reaching their true heat potential when they’re completely ripe. For this reason, green chilies are typically mild in heat and flavor.
Even when chilies are young and green, the spiciest part of the plant is the seeds. So if you seed your green chilies before consuming or preserving them, they will be milder in heat.
Green chilies are popular for flavoring a wide variety of foods and can be preserved in many different ways. They can be stored fresh and raw, frozen, pickled, dried, or canned.
How you plan on using them in the future may affect how you plan on preserving them. So let’s start exploring what to expect with different storage methods.
Storing Green Chili Peppers
If you have more green chili peppers than you’re prepared to eat immediately, you have a variety of options for preserving them over a longer period.
Here’s a quick overview of the different storage methods for green chilies:
|Storage Method||How Long||How to Use|
|Fridge||Up to 3 weeks||Fresh and raw or cooked|
|Dried||Up to 1 year||Best used as a spice|
|Freezer||Up to 1 year||Best used in cooking|
|Pickled||Indefinitely||Salads and sides|
|Preserved in Oil||1–3 months||Potato salad, coleslaw, etc|
|Canned||Indefinitely||Any way you like them|
We’ll go over each of these methods in detail below, so keep reading for more green chili storage advice.
Whichever method you choose, there is one universal truth you’ll want to keep in mind whenever you’re working with chilies: wear cooking gloves. Even mild peppers have spice that can irritate your skin and eyes if you happen to accidentally get the oils on you.
How to Store Green Chilies – The Best Way
If you have fresh green chilies that you plan on eating while they’re young and mild, either raw or cooking with them, your best bet is to store them in your fridge, like so:
- Place a sheet of paper towel in the bottom of an airtight container and lay your green chilies in a single layer across the paper.
- If you have more chilies, place another sheet of paper towel over the top of the first layer and spread out another layer of chilies on top. Continue layering paper towel and chilies until they’re all neatly stacked inside.
- Seal the container and keep it in your fridge.
You can also store green chilies in a resealable bag but they’re more likely to be crushed without the protection of solid walls.
If you do choose to store them in a bag, it’s still a good idea to add a paper towel inside to collect any moisture and try to layer them rather than squash them together.
How Long Do Green Chilis Last In The Fridge?
Properly stored, whole, fresh raw green chilies can last up to 3 weeks in your fridge. Although there is no guarantee they will stay fresh that long. Some batches just go bad quickly, and every refrigerator is different.
You will have to check on them regularly. Always use any chilies that look like they’re starting to get soft as soon as possible.
If you’ve sliced, diced, or otherwise chopped your chilies and stored them, they will only last about 2–3 days before starting to get slimy and lose their crunch.
How To Tell If Green Chilies Are Bad Or Spoiled
When green chilies start to go bad, it’s typically very obvious.
The skin will start wrinkling and that will quickly progress to soft spots. If they’re left for even longer, those soft spots will become discolored and turn to mush. This is the point where you should throw them out.
You may also see visible mold or notice a rotting smell. This is also a sign to throw out your chilies immediately.
Storing Green Chilies Without The Fridge
If you’re not going to eat your green chilies soon after picking or buying them, you have a variety of storage options that do not include your fridge.
What follows are detailed instructions for drying, freezing, pickling, and canning green chilies, depending on your personal preference.
1. Dry Green Chilies
If you are planning to use your green chilies like a spice, drying them is a great way to preserve them for long periods of time.
Traditionally chilies would be sun-dried. If you live in a hot, dry climate, you can try this yourself! However, the majority of home drying is done using either an oven or a dehydrator, which both work well even in humid or cool environments.
What to Know
Before you begin to dry your chilies, wash them gently in a solution of saltwater to remove any bacteria that may be lingering on the pepper. After washing your chilies, dry them well.
You’ll also want to inspect each green chili carefully. If any look like they’re turning bad, they are not going to dry well. Discard any peppers that:
- Are soft or have mushy spots
- Are starting to discolor or look slightly grey, rather than bright green
- Have a bad, sour, tangy, or otherwise unpleasant smell
Drying chilies is best done during a time of year when you can have fans running, preferably blowing your kitchen air out the window. Chilies, even mild ones, will off-gas spicy fumes when they’re heated. So if you’re using your oven to dry them, the air in your kitchen may burn or irritate your eyes.
How to Dry Green Chilies
If you’re using a food dehydrator, it’s best to look up directions specific to your model. Every machine will be slightly different and most manufacturers provide recommendations for a variety of food products and how they are best handled.
But if you’re planning on using your oven, follow these simple instructions to dry green chilies:
- Preheat your oven to 150 F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Wearing gloves, slice each chili in half and remove the stem and seeds.
- Place your chilies sliced side down on the baking sheet and put in the oven.
- Flip the chilies every hour (consider wearing goggles with no shame).
- It can take 6 hours or more to completely dry your chilies, but the final time requirements will vary depending on how large your chilies are. So you’ll have to check them yourself and use your best judgement.
Properly dried green chilies can be stored in an airtight container in your pantry, away from direct light or heat and well protected from moisture exposure.
They should retain their best flavor for up to 1 year.
2. Freeze Green Chilies
If you’d prefer to use your green chilies as close to fresh as possible, freezing might be a better option for you than drying them.
Chilies freeze surprisingly well, though they will be softer upon thawing. They will be best used when cooked in recipes (rather than gracing your burgers or tacos). They will retain their flavor, including any heat they start with.
How to Freeze Green Chilies
You can freeze green chilies either whole or sliced in any way you would like to use them in the future.
Prepare your chilies however you want them and follow these easy freezing guidelines:
- Place a layer of parchment paper or a silicone baking mat inside a cookie tray.
- Spread your green chilies in a single layer across the sheet.
- Place carefully in your freezer, without covering the peppers.
- Allow them to freeze undisturbed for 1–2 hours.
- Transfer frozen green chilies to a freezer-safe bag or container and make sure it is well sealed.
Fresh and frozen chili peppers will maintain good quality for up to 1 year in the freezer. They’ll be safe to use beyond that time but the quality will degrade, losing heat, flavor, and texture the longer they’re frozen.
3. Preserve Green Chilies in Vinegar
Pickling green chilies in vinegar is a great way to extend the life of your peppers nearly indefinitely while also imbuing them with the delicious tangy flavor of pickled vegetables.
Pickling is one of the oldest methods of preserving food, using an acidic base to protect food from bacteria and mold.
It’s also relatively simple and only requires a few ingredients, though it can also be very versatile if you’re interested in being creative with your spices and added ingredients.
To preserve green chilies in vinegar, you will need:
- Canning jars
- Fresh, healthy green chilies
- Pickling salt
You may also want to use additional ingredients for added flavor, such as garlic, bay leaves, dill, or any other herbs and spices that get your tastebuds excited.
How to “Quick Pickle” Green Chilies
You can “quick pickle” green chilies but they will need to be stored in your fridge and can be eaten right away.
If you want to store your pickled green chilies in your pantry or basement, you’ll want to refer to the section ‘How to Can Green Chilies’ below.
Here’s how to “quick pickle” your green chilies:
- Create a brine by dissolving your pickling salt in a solution of water and vinegar, heated over low to medium heat on the stove.
- Slice your chilies how you want them and pack them into your jar, along with any additional spices or herbs you’d like to use.
- Allow the brine to cool and then pour it over your green chilies, filling the jar so that all your chili slices are completely submerged.
- Seal the jar so that it’s airtight and allow your chilies to “pickle” for at least 3 days in your fridge. After 3 days you can taste them to see if they’re to your liking. Once you like them, they’re ready to eat any time.
Pickled green chilies will keep in your fridge nearly indefinitely as long as the lid remains closed tightly.
4. Can Green Chilies
Green chilies and peppers are considered low-acid foods, which means they must be canned using a pressure cooker, and never with a water bath canner. This is the only way to ensure you’re not allowing bacteria to compromise your chilies.
For this reason, we recommend you only can chilies if you’re already familiar with the safety procedures necessary for pressure canning.
What follows are only basic guidelines. These steps are probably not sufficient for first-time canners, but will work if you’re already familiar with the process.
The equipment you’ll need for canning green chilies includes:
- A pressure canner
- Enough half-pint canning jars, lids, and bands to preserve all your chilies
- Canning tools, such as a jar lifter, canning ladle, funnel, etc
- Rubber gloves
- Cutting board and knife to prepare your chilies
- Large and small pot
- Large bowl
How to Can Green Chilies (Basic Guidelines)
- Before starting, you’ll want to make sure your canning jars, and bands, are washed and sterilized. Try to keep everything warm while you’re prepping your chilies.
- Leave them whole or cut them in any shape you’d like. Most canned peppers are roasted first so the skins are easy to remove, and then the peppers are diced, but this is a matter of preference only.
- Once the green chilies are prepped, fill the jars, but don’t pack them tight with peppers. Add hot water over the peppers until there is about 1 inch of headspace left at the top.
- Tap the jar to make sure there are no air bubbles. Add your lids and rings, and transfer the filled jars to your pressure cooker.
- Follow the instructions of your pressure cooker model to process the chilies correctly. (Every pressure canner is a bit different.) Once they’re ready, allow the jars to cool enough to remove them safely from the pressure canner.
- Have a kitchen towel spread out on your counter and topped with some cooling sheets. This allows you to place your jars in a safe space to finish cooling completely.
- Make sure you label your freshly canned green chilies with the date and store them in your cool, dry pantry for up to 1 year.
If you’re canning pickled green chilies, follow all the same steps but use your brine instead of just hot water.
5. Preserve Green Chilies in Oil
Green chilies can also be preserved in oil and stored in your fridge or your pantry for up to 1 month. Here’s how to do it:
- Wash your whole green chilies with a solution of vinegar water, rinse them, and dry them thoroughly.
- Remove the stem and seeds, and slice the chilies lengthwise into thin strips.
- Prepare a vinegar and salt bath and submerge your chilies for a minimum of 24 hours.
- Drain the chilies and pat them dry.
- Stack the chilies into a sterilized jar just big enough for the amount you have and cover them completely with olive oil.
- Make sure the jar is closed with an airtight seal. Keep in a cool, dry location like your pantry for up to 1 month.
You can also store olive preserved chilies in your fridge but the oil will start to solidify and turn a less appealing cloudy consistency. In the fridge, green chilies in oil will stay safe and tasty for up to 3 months. But they’re best if enjoyed within a few weeks.
Green chilies that have been preserved in oil are excellent when diced into cold, creamy salads like potato salad or coleslaw.
How to Preserve Green Chili Paste
If you’ve purchased a green chili paste, it will likely already be packaged either in a resealable tube or glass jar, such as this green chili paste from Rani.
If this is the case, simply reseal the container and store it in the fridge, according to the directions on the package.
Storing Homemade Green Chili Paste
However, if you’ve made your own green chili paste and want to make sure it lasts as long as possible, the best way to store it is in the freezer.
One of the easiest ways to pre-portion your green chili paste is to freeze it in freezer trays (or ice cube trays).
You’ll want to use a tray that you are not planning to use again for ice in the future though. The oils from the chilies can leech into the plastic. That may add a surprising flavor to anything you use the ice tray at a later date.
Here’s how to freeze homemade green chili paste:
- To start, spray your ice cube tray with a cooking oil spray. This will help prevent the paste from sticking to the tray.
- Fill each cube indentation with 1 teaspoon of green chili paste.
- Place it in your freezer, uncovered, for 1–2 hours.
- When each cube if thoroughly frozen you can crack out the frozen paste and transfer it to a freezer-safe bag or container. They’ll stay nice and neat in their individual portion sizes.
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