Preserving Chili Peppers without Canning

mea2214(z5 Chicago)August 13, 2006

I made a mistake this year and instead of growing 4 chili peppers I'm growing 8. I wanted an extra 4 habeneros but accidently planted chilis instead. I still have a lot of habeneros but since they're so expensive I wanted to really grow a lot of them this year.

Last year I read about canning hot peppers and concluded it's way too complicated for me -- especially since if you do it wrong and you eat a bad canned batch you can die of botulism. No thanks. I had success in freezing the habeneros last year.

The chili peppers are a different matter. I'd prefer if I could pickle them somehow and store them in the refrigerator and at least keep them from spoiling so fast. Right now when I pick them they spoil so fast and I'm getting too many to eat myself and no one particular wants chili peppers.

For my purposes simplicity is paramount. All the recipes I've read so far are too complicated. What I was thinking of doing is filling a jar with vinegar perhaps 1/3 and then every time I harvest the day's crop I just chop the stem off , thow them in the jar, and leave the jar in the fridge. After that jar fills up start the same process with another jar.

Will this process work and how long will the chilis store in the regular refrigerator. I don't require them to last all winter -- a couple months would be perfect. Does anyone else pickle this way?

A couple of weeks ago I bought some green "sports" peppers from the grocery store. These are the peppers you put on "Chicago style" hot dogs. It sure looks like these peppers were just soaked in vinegar, water, and salt but it's hard to tell what other prep they did before packaging.

Again, I've been searching the web and this forum for recipes and ideas on pickling but they have all been way too complicated. I just need a way to collect these chili peppers so they don't spoil so fast. Right now they spoil within a week just sitting open in the fridge.

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100% vinegar should preserve most things. I would cut the pepper in half to expose the inside to the vinegar. adding a little salt will help also.

your way should work. but here is a good way.

1 cup kosher salt per gallon of water.

drop in peppers and put a plate over the top to force the peppers below the top so they are under water. they will ferment at room temperature. when done remove and drop into vinegar and they will keep for a very long time. best to cut in half so the salt and vinegar gets to the inside of the pepper. best to keep below the surface of the vinegar also.

fermenting or pickling the peppers first and then put in vinegar they can last for years. a little sugar in the vinegar will sweeten the vinegar flavor.,7518,s1-4-64-793,00.html

you can also do a google search.

Here is a link that might be useful: or click here

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 10:53PM
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mea2214(z5 Chicago)

Thanks for the info. I assume that when you said they can last for years you meant years in the refrigerator? I do not plan on doing any kind of canning where I assumed allows you to let the bottles set out at room temperature.

It would be nice to have a bunch of bottles of these chili peppers in the fridge to eat as snacks throughout the winter.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 1:21PM
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pepperhead212(6b / S Jersey)

I freeze or dry peppers, as most of the foods I want to use them in I do not want vinegar in. I freeze a large amount of green, ripe ones of various types, and habs. I have found habaneros keep their flavor and heat very well for a few months, then the heat starts decreasing some, but I have also found that freezing them in a foodsaver vac-pack keeps them longer - I think the lack of air keeps the oxidation at a minimum. I always freeze enough peppers to last me until next harvest + 20%, and dry all the rest.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 12:23AM
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michaelnohio(z6 OH)

I mix 1 cup sugar with 1 cup plain white vinegar for keeping peppers in the refridgerator. I have had peppers last from one season to the next in the fridge. I used to mix my habs,jalapenos and wax peppers but the combination was too hot for some guest. I now keep them seperate. The peppers do have a sweet /sour taste from the mix but I now have peppers all year

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 6:12PM
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byron(4a/5b NH)

If you dry and grind them into powder, they will keep for several years w/o refrigeration.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 6:20PM
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mea2214(z5 Chicago)

The climate here in Chicago is too humid and not hot enough to dry peppers outdoors. I'd have to get a dehydrator in order to dry them which might not be a bad kitchen appliance to take up space.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 1:47PM
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ucovinero(7 Atlanta, GA)

It all depends on what you want to do with them. You go with several different options, drying, freezing, or canning(my personal fav & very simple). With canning you can either use them as pickeled habs or blend em up after a bit of aging and have sauce. Its up to you.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 2:26PM
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irisgirl(Z5 - CO)

We have been buying and freezing our chilis from vendors for most of the past 10 years or so. This came on the advice of Hispanic employees where I was working back then.

The vendor roasts them up & sacks them, we take them home, pack them in 1 qt freezer bags (6 or 8 chilis each depending on size). Then we put 4 or 5 filled quart bags (squish the air out) inside a 1-gallon freezer bag. They last beautifully, have not lost any to freezer burn.

Tried drying some but they don't reconstitute as nicely for green chile. No time to can chilis, too many tomaties! LOL!

Now we are growing our own, but not quite the quantity we'd like. Takes practice. Have Fun!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 9:16PM
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cmpman1974(Zone 6 MI)

Thanks Irisgirl. Really like the idea about sealing a smaller freezer bag in a larger one!


    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 11:15PM
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shelbyguy(z5 IL)

funny, my cayenne is drying just fine out here in the suburbs.

are you picking your peppers too ripe? mine last for weeks just in the fridge.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2006 at 10:31AM
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mea2214(z5 Chicago)

Last year when I researched canning of hot peppers via google I stumbled upon an Illinois extension site that explicitly said that the climate here in Chicago is not suitable for drying peppers by hanging them upside outdoors. Apparently you need a bunch of over 90F days and below a certain percentage humidity in order for that to work and 1) we seldem get that many days in a row over 90 and usually when we do get those temps the humidity is through the roof.

So I tried to look this up again and couldn't find the link of the rules that I read. I swear I didn't dream this. :-) And I recall that I read these rules on multiple sites.

That research also turned me off on canning hot peppers but I might consider doing tomatoes this year since I did buy two cases of canning jars last year that went unused.

The chili peppers do last a few weeks in the fridge but right now they're coming in faster than I can eat them and 4 of my chilis haven't yet started producing so I expect to be deluged with chili peppers in the coming weeks.

I freeze and use habeneros for cooking chili but the chili peppers aren't hot enough to cook with and I eat them raw as a snack which is why I'd just prefer to pickle them and keep a bunch of non-canning jars of them in the fridge.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2006 at 3:19PM
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For the last ten years I have been keeping my Chilis' in Sherry . I have topped and de-seeded them, then thrown them in a large 4.5l jar of sherry (Fino). I learnt this technique from a cook on Mustique, who also uses the liquor to improve soup in the Winter, it works. Some of the bite has gone from the Chili but I am pleased with the result. This year, next week I wil try Vodka.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2006 at 12:11PM
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Hi to all!
I'm new here and need some info. If it has been answered before, please bear with me as I have scanned the messages and gotten wonderful info but haven't seen my answer. So here it is.

I wanted initially to "can" my chili peppers but read that using regular metal lids (Ball. Mason, etc.) would not do because of the interaction with the vinegar. I am not new to canning but AM new to working with vinegar. So here is my question.

My mom canned all sorts of pickles with metal lids. But as I am reading the dangers, I went to preserving with vinegar only. But I still am using the metal lids that came with the jars! So what's the difference? Can I not do this either, for the interaction? Also, after using just vinegar and no heat processing, do I have to refrigerate? Or can they be kept in the pantry?I'm confused! LOL! Any help?
Thanks very much,
From the DEEP south,

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 12:25PM
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There is a very easy solution to your problem mea2214, just put them spread out in a pan with the stems cut out around the top so the inside is open to the air and place the pan in the oven on the lowest setting. If you have a gas stove you can often just have the pan set in there with just the pilot light on...if you have electric just have it on the lowest setting and after they become brittle you can put them in a spice mill or manually grind them into powder which keeps without refrigeration for years if you place it in a jar.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 7:25PM
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Yes alcohol preserves even better than vinegar. but it is more expensive. and it also can get you drunk. which can be good or bad depending hahaha.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2008 at 7:41PM
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I adapted a bread and butter pickle recipe, sustituting pepper-- mostly jalapenos. They are very tasty and can either be stored in the fridge without processing--they stay crispy-- or proceessed in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes and stored at room temp.
I usually increase the amts for the brine to be sure I have enough to cover the peppers
1 1/2 to 2 lbs peppers sliced 1/4 " thick
2 medium onions sliced thin
6 ice cubes
1/4 cup coarse ( Kosher ) salt
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

In large bowl combine peppers, onions, salt, and ice. Let stand 1 hour tosssing occassionally.

Fill bowl with water and drain vegetables in a colander. Rinse and drain three times to rinse off all salt. Drain well.

In large pan combine vinegar, sugar and spices. Bring to a boil. Add the vegetables and when the liquid barely begins to simmer remove from heat. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.

Put in jars with enough brine to cover vegetables and store in the fridge. Ready to eat the next day but I have kept in fridge for many months. really good--crunchy-not too sweet--not too sour.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 7:41AM
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Dehydrating (drying) and putting in shakers, or rehydrating works extremely well. Most of the peppers I freeze or pickle I blanch for 10 seconds in Boiling water whole. Works great too. I get left over hot sausage 1 gallon jars complete with vinegar from a friend as well as pickled egg gallon jars. I keep some of the other product in the jars, and presto!! Bhut heat red hots!! Or hard boiled eggs with sonic heat!! heheheheh. The ways to use your peppers are endless. I also freeze some, then slice them and add them to my homemade venison sausage mix!! Fandamtastic!! TiMo

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 9:09AM
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fiedlermeister, Those peppers look utterly scrumptious! Lucky you, you get to eat them whenever you want!

lisae_grower, we regularly preserve both shredded cabbage and pepper halves. Not in the same jars though! What we have found is that we can mix a cup of storebought vinegar with 3 cups water. That is our pickling brine. Each quart jar initially gets a tsp of salt and 2 cups brine. Then we add shredded cabbage until the jar is full. Done this way there are no air bubbles in the cabbage, and maximum picklage is achieved. Before we put on a lid, we stretch a double layer of vegetable bag (like the kind on a roll in the produce isle) over the mouth of the jar, then a mason lid, then the mason ring. The plastic prevents any vinegar from ever touching the metal lid. Then just trim off excess with scissors and put the bottle in a frig. This product will last around 2 years in a cold state like this. We also like to put a couple tsp's of caraway seed in with the cabbage. Goes excellent on any ruben style sandwich.

Red cabbage is easy to grow and makes an oh-so-pretty pickled cabbage, and we much prefer the taste of it to saurkraut.

Peppers can be done almost identically. Half a jar of brine, tsp of salt, then add pepper halves until top of jar is reached. Double layer plastic, lid, then into the frig it goes.

I must say that we have 4 refrigerators total. I keep the cabbage and peppers in the same frig as my winter stored scion wood. No ethylene gasses from ripening fruit etc to deteriorate my scionwood.

Oh, Dill Pickles can be done in the exact same manner as the cabbage and peppers. I use cucumber halves and pickling spice. They are wonderful and also last around 2 years like this. I love "no canning" type recipes!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 12:27AM
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brien_nz(New Zealand)

Btw if you preserve your peppers in vinegar, don't throw the pickling brine away after you eat the chiles - it makes a wonderful condiment! I made a recipe for Swiss Chard w Serrano Vinegar from the Food Network. You are supposed to make the Serrano vinegar but I used the pickling liquid from a bottle of store bought jalapenos. Delicious!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 6:07PM
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I hung my Chili peppers upside down to dry in the shed. They were there all winter. Some of the pepper are a beautiful red color, but other are red or orange with black areas. They are not brittle as I would have expected them to be. I had planned to grin them up to make a powder.
My Question: are they still usable?
Should I try to dry them till they become brittle?

I have pictures but can't seem to add them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden galleries

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 4:18PM
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I freeze chilies and grate them frozen on my food. I think that is better than dried chili powder because I am preserving volatile constituents that add aroma.

Buying a chest freezer was the best investment I ever made. I bought mine at Montgomery Wards in 1981 for about $200 and it has been operating without problems ever since. Shortly after I bought it, agents of the store unsuccessfully tried to sell me an extended warranty for about 1/3 the cost of the freezer. Suckers! The freezer is quiet, consumes little electricity, and I use the top as a counter.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 6:01PM
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I'm planning to pickle a lot of jalapenos, habaneros and cowhorns using the "fiedlermeister" method described in a previous post. But I read the whole chain of comments and does that recipe get rid of the dangers described in earlier posts for making pickles and keeping them in the refrigerator? I don't want to screw up and make something that will me kill me and my family! I'm new at this but the pepper crop was so abundant this year that I don't want to see them go to waste. Also don't want to do anything complicated to prepare them for long term/winter storage.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 9:53AM
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Hello all,
I'm new here and stumbled on your guy's great forum"and had to be a member :) ", I'm a first time hot sauce maker, "not pepper grower :)" and after reading your guys comments, i was wondering, an old friend of mine said he used to soak his peppers in a pint jar with vinegar, produce protector (dextrose,ascorbic acid,citric acid), and salt for 2 weeks before making hot sauce. what do you guys think? is it safe to do it that way before making it?

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 10:24PM
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