If you planted your chili peppers early enough, you should have them in the ground by now.
In fact, you may see the fruits of your labor already. Newbies to chili growing will have just a few plants and it’s possible they’ll get through all their peppers before they go bad. But, if you have a large crop of chili plants, you’ll need to figure out how you’ll make the most of your chili peppers.
Preserving Chili Peppers
You can do a lot with a small crop of chili peppers. It’s not just about having them on hand to chop and cook as you please. Hot sauces and dried peppers extend the life of these fruits, but not indefinitely. The same goes for freezing, canning or pickling. Each one of these methods requires some level of work – and do-overs are difficult, if not impossible. You’ll need to pick your preferred means of preservation as you pick your peppers so you can make the most of them.
- Hot Sauces – If you’ve got a good DIY hot sauce recipe, you may just want to transform your crop into a few bottles of hot sauce. While these do make excellent gifts for friends and family, they just won’t last forever. And, homemade hot sauces don’t last as long as commercially-produced sauces with preservatives. If you have an excessively large number of pepper plants, you’re probably going to want to make at least a few bottles.
- Freezing – This is one of the easiest methods of preserving your chili peppers. Pop them on a baking sheet and into the freezer. You don’t want them touching until they’re completely frozen, but then you can bag chilies together in small packets to thaw and use anytime you like. The catch? You’ll be freezing and repeating this action for a while unless you have a lot of freezer space where your peppers will freeze without touching.
- Drying – If you tend to cook soups, stews, and curries throughout the winter, you’ll probably find dried peppers are more useful than defrosted ones. There are a couple of ways to dry chilies so you can store them in jars for later use. The easiest is probably the low-temperature oven method, but you could always hang chili peppers to dry using traditional techniques. You could always chop them for pepper flakes too, but you’ll probably have exhausted yourself drying them.
- Pickling – Several glass bottles and a vinegar brine (perhaps with a few herbs) is what you’ll need if you want to pickle your peppers. The chilies will keep for quite some time using this preservation method, but you will be limited in how you use them as the brine will seep into the chilies and change the way they taste.
- Canning – No really, you may be interested in home canning your chili peppers. This offers a lot of flexibility in how they can be prepared later and they’ll keep for a very long time. But, canning is a complicated process. You’ll need to put a lot of time and some resources into it. That said, it could be the thing that transforms your life.
Which Method Works Best?
Each and every means of prolonging the life of your chili peppers is a good one. You’ll need to make decisions based on how you want to use your chili peppers later. And, unless you only ever eat chilies in a particular dish or way, you’ll probably consider a range of preservation methods.
And, the best time to make that decision might just be now… while your chilies are still growing. It’ll give you an idea when you want to harvest – and how many peppers to pick on any given day. Whatever you do, don’t let those peppers go to waste; no one wants that!