When fresh peppers are in season, they're quite inexpensive. If you have a garden, they're easy to grow, and you might get as many as a dozen peppers from each sweet pepper plant, and more from plants that produce smaller hot peppers. Given that, it makes sense to freeze some of the crop so you have peppers on hand throughout the winter.
You'll be surprised at how readily frozen and defrosted peppers retain their flavor and even some of their crispness. It's also quite easy to freeze peppers for later use. Some experts recommend blanching peppers in boiling water before freezing them, but that's not really necessary and only adds work to the process. Instead, chop and freeze peppers directly.
How to Freeze Peppers
You can preserve both hot peppers and sweet peppers by freezing them. Process as many peppers at once as you can to cut down on the overall labor. Gather your peppers, a cutting board, a cookie sheet, and freezer bags to start. Here are the steps involved:
- Wash and dry your peppers.
- Sort through the peppers and set aside any with mold or soft spots. You may be able to make use of part of these peppers immediately, but they will not freeze well.
- Slice the peppers in half, and remove all of the seeds. If you're processing hot peppers, take care to keep any of the oil away from your face and eyes. Wear gloves if necessary.
- Next, slice the peppers into whatever size and shape works best for your needs (fat strips, skinny strips, rings, etc.).
- If you like to make stuffed peppers, you even can freeze peppers whole. Just cut off the tops, scoop out the seeds, and put the tops back on. Keep in mind that whole peppers will take up lots of freezer space.
- Rinse the peppers, but make sure to dry them thoroughly with a paper towel. The drier the peppers are, the less likely they are to suffer from freezer burn.
- Spread out the pepper pieces on a cookie sheet in a single layer and freeze them. This will keep your peppers from freezing together in clumps.
- Transfer the frozen peppers to freezer bags. Use heavy-duty freezer bags and remove as much air as possible from the bags to help prevent freezer burn.
Tips for Success
To avoid freezer burn, try to use your peppers within six months of freezing. They'll keep for much longer, though, so no worries if it takes you longer to use them. When storing the peppers, keep them in the back of the freezer, where it is the coldest.
Peppers do lose some of their crispness when frozen, so they're best used in cooked recipes. However, if the loss of crispness doesn't bother you, they're perfectly fine to use uncooked in salads and wraps.
If you're making stuffed peppers with frozen peppers, remove them from the freezer and stuff them while they're still frozen. There's no need to thaw them out first, and they'll be easier to fill this way.