Jalapeno peppers are one of the most popular peppers in the world. With their relatively mild flavor and a good kick of spice, they are versatile peppers that can be used to make various dishes and can even be eaten on their own.
However, jalapeno peppers are harvested during the summer months. Since they only stay good for a few weeks in the refrigerator, this means that you’ll be left without fresh jalapeno peppers for the majority of the year. That is unless you can freeze jalapenos.
Freezing jalapenos is a great way to preserve them for use during the winter months when you cannot purchase fresh ones. To freeze jalapenos you will first need to flash freeze them, then store them in freezer bags until you are ready to use them.
Can I Freeze Jalapenos?
Not only can you freeze jalapenos, but it’s also actually a great way to preserve the peppers beyond their normal lifespan.
If stored in the pantry, jalapenos will usually last a few days before they begin to shrivel up and should be used. They may also sprout or grow moldy when kept in the pantry.
In the refrigerator, they will last slightly longer, usually 1-2 weeks. However, the cool temperatures can sometimes signal to the peppers that it is time to sprout. This can cause your peppers to sprout as soon as they are removed from the refrigerator which can ruin the seeds and flavor.
The best way to preserve jalapenos long-term is by freezing them. This will allow the jalapenos to stay fresh for several months, allowing you to keep high-quality fresh jalapenos for use even in the cold winter months.
2 Methods for Freezing Jalapenos
There are a couple of different options for freezing jalapenos. Depending on how you plan on using your jalapeno peppers, you will want to pick the method that most closely matches your goals.
Some of the most common ways to freeze jalapenos are freezing them whole and slicing them before freezing.
Method 1: Freezing It Whole
The first, and simplest, method for freezing jalapenos is freezing them whole. This method is only recommended if you won’t need to remove the seeds after freezing them and are only planning on roughly chopping them.
That way, when you pull them out all you’ll need to do is give them a rough chop and toss them into the pot. If you freeze them and then try to take the seeds out it will be a more labor-intensive process as the internal structures can disintegrate, making it more difficult to remove the seeds.
Things You’ll Need
- Sharp knife
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Freezer bags
- Airtight container
- Remove the Stems
Even if you are planning on freezing jalapeno peppers whole, it is recommended that you remove the stems before doing so. This will help them pack together better and will simply take out one step after thawing.
To remove the stems you’ll want to take a sharp knife and cut off the stem at its base. Try not to cut too deeply into the pepper as you’re trying to maintain the structure of the pepper throughout this process.
- Flash Freeze
Once all the peppers’ stems have been removed, it’s time to flash-freeze the peppers. This will help to ensure that the peppers do not stick together in their bags once frozen. This makes it easier to only remove and thaw as many peppers as you plan to use.
To flash-freeze your jalapeno peppers you will lay them all out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. When you lay them out make sure they don’t touch each other or they could stick together.
After all the peppers are laid out, place them in the freezer for 1-2 hours. Flash-freezing them will freeze the out layers and the moisture in them, preventing the peppers from sticking together. Once they are flash frozen you can put all of the peppers in a bag together without worrying that they will freeze into one mass of peppers.
- Place Peppers in Freezer Bags
After the peppers are fully frozen you should place them into freezer bags. Once the bags are filled try and squeeze as much of the air out as possible. This will help prevent freezer burn and keep the peppers from drying out too much while in the freezer.
- Place the Bags in an Airtight Container (Optional)
Once the bags are filled you can place them in a large, airtight container in your freezer. This will provide extra protection against the conditions in the freezer and keep them from getting crushed.
Stored in this way the peppers will stay fresh for up to a year and maintain their flavor and spice. However, they will not have the same texture as fresh jalapenos, making them less than ideal for raw use where the crunch is important.
- Wear gloves when handling the peppers
- Don’t overpack the bags
- Make sure to flash freeze
Method 2: Freezing It Pre-Sliced
The next method for freezing your jalapeno peppers is to freeze them after they’ve been sliced. This is a better option if you know exactly how you’re going to be using your peppers and don’t want an additional processing step after they’re thawed.
Slicing your peppers will also allow you to pack more peppers into each freezer bag and save space.
Things You’ll Need
- A sharp knife
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Freezer bags
- Airtight container
- Slice Peppers and Remove the Seeds
The first step in how to freeze jalapenos once they’ve already been sliced is slicing the peppers and removing the seeds. The easiest way to remove the seeds is to cut the peppers lengthwise and then use the knife to remove the seeds in one motion.
After the seeds are removed you can leave the peppers halved or you can continue to chop them down to your desired size. Do your best to cut them to a uniform size so all the pieces freeze at approximately the same rate.
It is recommended that you wear gloves when handling chopped peppers. Jalapeno peppers contain a chemical that can burn and irritate the skin with long-term exposure.
- Flash Freeze the Peppers
Once all the peppers are chopped up it is time to flash-freeze them. This step is especially important when dealing with chopped peppers since they more easily freeze and stick together. If you want to be able to remove only as many peppers as you need, flash-freezing the pieces is a crucial step.
Line the baking sheet with a layer of parchment paper then spread a thin layer of the pepper pieces on the sheet. Try to make sure that they’re only in one layer and that no pieces are stacked on top of each other. You may need multiple trays depending on how many peppers you are freezing.
After the peppers are spread out you’ll place them in the freezer for at least 1-2 hours. This will freeze the moisture in the peppers and keep them from sticking together.
Once two hours have passed the peppers should feel frozen and should no longer feel damp to the touch.
- Store in the Freezer Bags
After the peppers have been fully flash-frozen, it’s time to transfer them to the freezer bags where they will be stored for the next several months.
Since the peppers have been flash frozen you can pack as many of them into the bags as you want without the risk of them freezing together. Just make sure to transfer them quickly so they don’t begin to thaw before you return them to the freezer.
Once the bags are packed you should squeeze all of the air out of the freezer bags. This will help to keep the peppers from drying out and losing too much of their texture. It will also prevent freezer burn which occurs when the outer layers of food begin to dehydrate while the inside stays moist.
- Put Bags in Containers (Optional)
Now that the bags are all packed up you can either throw them directly into the freezer or put the bags into an airtight container. Doing this will help to protect the bags from breaking while they’re in the freezer and give the peppers an additional layer of protection.
- Use gloves when handling sliced peppers
- Make sure to flash freeze in a single layer
- Transfer peppers quickly to avoid thawing
Is It Possible to Use These Methods for Other Peppers As Well?
It is definitely possible to use these methods for other types of peppers as well. As long as the peppers are small, you can freeze them whole without consequence and use the exact same methods listed in this article.
If the peppers are larger, like bell peppers, it may be better to slice them up before freezing them. This will save space and keep the peppers from collapsing in the freezer.
You should also be careful when freezing extremely spicy peppers to use gloves. Some peppers have a chemical that can burn your skin if you are not careful. Wearing gloves can help to prevent this and also maintains sanitation.
If you’d like to preserve fresh jalapeno peppers to be used during the winter, the best way to do this is by freezing the peppers. Frozen jalapeno peppers can stay fresh for up to 1 year when stored correctly and will maintain their spice level and most of their flavor during this time.
You can either freeze jalapeno peppers whole or slice them into pieces before you freeze them. Either way, you’ll want to make sure you flash-freeze them before storing them. This will keep the peppers from sticking together and make it easier to thaw individual peppers.
You should also wear gloves when freezing the peppers. This will prevent the juices from the peppers from irritating your skin.