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Freezing Hot Peppers

Helena, MT

I have received several complaints about my canned hot sauces for chili and Italian dishes being too hot. Even the hot variations are never hot enough for me, so I find myself adding cayenne or pepper seeds for my alequates of these sauces.

I have heard mention storing hot peppers by freezing them in a zip type freezer bag, and I'm wondering if it's just that simple, or if there are some prepatory procedures that need be followed.

I personally go through several of the store bought gallon jars each year of diced Jalapeno's. In storage I have six of these gallon Jalapeno jars which I would like to use for canning hot peppers and any recipes on this would also be greatly appreciated.

As you can tell from the poor quality attached pic, I am serious about my hot peppers. With the exception of the onion seedling flat, these are all pepper plants, and possibly as many as a hundred of these will go into the garden or 2.5 gallon plastic pots. There are over a dozen varieties of hot peppers and several not so hot. I'm certain this whole thing sounds absurd to most of you, but I suffer from a short growing season for hot peppers in the garden. If and when they produce by the end of the growing season, they are harvested similar to determinate tomatoes...all at once!

Thumbnail by mraider3
Alfred, ME(Zone 4a)

Have been freezing mine like that for 15 yrs.. Like you I have a short season so they are pretty much harvested all at once. When I'm tired of covering to protect from frost here is what I do. Pull plant and all right up, pick off peppers, put in 1 gal. zip lok bags ( I use the ones w/ a slider loc as it is quicker ) put bags in freezer and mix a drink. Usually have 30 or so bags. When I need some I just take out what I need, Rinse them at that time and use. After being frozen they will be soft but ok for cooked dishes, salsa, etc.. Still pickle some for quick use in salad, sandwich. Sound Absurd You Say? Hey were gardeners here, all non gardeners think all gardeners are absurd if not totally crazy. This can be good thing cause we don't get bothered much, just looks and little smiles. :::))) kdcon

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

We always freeze a bunch of peppers, they carry us through the long season when they're not available fresh in the garden. I raise and freeze mostly sweet peppers, but some hot ones too.

During the months when I'm getting a "pepper surplus", my wife just washes them, cuts the stems off, takes the seeds and soft inside membranes out, and dices them up. We put them in freezer bags and use them in all kinds of dishes all year long.

We don't bother about skinning them, because freezing makes them soft enough even for uncooked salsa.

Helena, MT

kdcon...30 1-gal freezer bags...good job. I leave the plastic cover on the cages and remove only the night covering during the day. What method do you use to cover your plants? Last year I purchased the blue quart sized zip type Glad bags for freezing. Saw a test on freezer bags by some chef on a tv cook show and convinced me so I bought a five year supply! Quart size is about the right size for two people on corn, peas & green beans. Interesting to note peppers don't stick together when unwashed and frozen...good tip. Would you mind my asking how you pickel yours? about a note on your wife's uncooked salsa. I finally got a couple of Pizza Pepper plants to grow from two year old seed. They have been tougher than habs to germinate. Wife and I like home made pizza and I want to try some of these...not considered too hot peppers. Normally I get jalapeno's from the jar on my half. Just doen't seem right to make pizza from scratch with jar jollys.

kdcon...certifiable indeed. Use to think 10% of the population was crazy. Now I'm beginning to thing we are the only real sanes on the planet. My back yard garden sits next to a two lane highway. I get plenty of those looks when people think your not watching. Once in a while I get the passerby who can't resist any longer, and drives up to my house to ask a question. Even neighbors who have not spoken to me in the six years I have lived here are beginning to talk to me..."What about those food prices?" Certifiable Indeed

Alfred, ME(Zone 4a)

I just use one of those blue tarps or some poly to cover at nite.

The jalapenos that I pickle are just put in a pint or quart jar w/ bout 2/3 rd. water, vinegar and a spoonfull of olive oil. Not very scientific.

The frozen whole peppers thaw very quick. I rinse them in hot/warm water and cut them up for whatever I'm making right then while they are firm cause they haven't thawed completely yet.

The only reason I don't cut and seed them before freezing is the time factor. In the fall the is no time for me to do that, so I just pluck and freeze. The ones I pickle ( only 6/8 jars ) get done in Sept. when I make pickles.

Yeah I have found all those folks that oooh & aaahh over fresh grown veggies want them a certain way.
I have called them when things are ripe to come pick their own. No Show

I call to say they are all picked, in a bag on the doorstep. No Show

Here is how they like them....

You grow them, You pick them, You Deliver them, You clean and cook them, You do the dishes, Read the people a goodnite story, You go home.

::)) kdcon

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

" about a note on your wife's uncooked salsa."

Ha - my wife likes to cook and she makes all kinds of great dishes, but I make the salsa.

Every batch of my salsa is different, depending on what's available and plentiful. In the off-season, I'll use veggies we've frozen from the garden or even some canned ingredients from the supermarket. When I've got garden produce, the salsa comes from that.

Salsa operates on GENERAL rules:

(1) You've got to use fresh cilantro, and it's hard to put too much in.
(2) Lots of onions, too.
(3) Same with sweet peppers and the juice - lots.

The main ingredient of course is tomatoes - and they can be in any form. Fresh from the garden is best, but canned or frozen will work in the wintertime. I've even made salsa verde using all unripe green tomatoes, and it's good.

The rest is all seasoning. Add "heat" to taste with hot peppers, add a little lime juice, a little garlic, salt, seasoning salt, I like to add a dash of red wine.

Salsa isn't a recipe, it's a general concept. LOL

Helena, MT

kdcon...true-true-true. We had to hand deliver the tomato requresters and put them in their vehilces. My two teenage nieces came last year for two weeks during bean picking season. After two days of picking their backs hurt so bad they would not go near the garden for the rest of their stay. They had the solution...It's much easier to go to McD's. Like the pepper pickle recipe...keep it simple is my moto. Fortunately I like my peppers muy picante and seeds stay in.

Ozark...Thanks for the recipe. Like you I tend to vary things and go by gut feel, or like you say what's available. Cilantro has been a problem for me. Several years ago a friend gave me a case of pint jars of 'hot picanti salsa' made locally. The 'hot' part was a complete myth, and the cilantro lay in large chunks at the bottom of the jars. Possibly the bottom of the batch, but the stuff was nasty. Threw the sauce and kept the jars. I blamed the cilantro for the awful taste, but I could well be in error on that call. What does cilantro do for the salsa Sam?

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Cilantro makes salsa taste soapy! Yum! (not)

My point is that like many herbs, liking cilantro is an individual sort of thing... if you love it, there may be no such thing as too much of it in your salsa. I'm not a fan, but I'll add a bit of cilantro to certain recipes just for a little note of flavor... but more than a bit, and I start wanting to make faces at the flavor!

I'd say, make a batch of fresh salsa, and take out a little bowl of it... taste, then mince and add a bit of cilantro, and taste again. You'll know when you've got a flavor you like, and if you keep track of how many "bits" you added to your bowl, you can estimate how much to add to the rest of the batch.

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

Our supermarkets here have little bundles of fresh cilantro in the produce section - it's usually 69 cents, sometimes 50 cents. I've tried growing cilantro, and there's not much use. It bolts to seed as soon as the weather gets the least bit warm.

My wife and I lived in SoCal for over 30 years, and we developed a real taste for Mexican food. There are regional differences, and we like California-style Mexican food better than Tex-Mex.

Mexican food is beans, rice, cheese, shredded beef, cheese, cornbread (tortillas), tomato sauce - if you think about it, it's not much different from native Missouri/Oklahoma dishes. What makes it Mexican, in my opinion, is the addition of hot chiles and cilantro.

I just wash off a bunch of supermarket cilantro and cut it up as fine as possible with a knife, starting at the leafy end. I discard most of the stems. Sometimes in the winter I'll get a big jug of Pace medium hot sauce at the store (I think that's a national brand), add a bunch of chopped cilantro to it, and put it back in the jug in the 'fridge. That comes out about the same as the "chips and dip" at Mexican restaurants. In fact, I think that's the way the restaurants do it.

Helena, MT

Well thanks for the input critter...I will give the ilttle bit a try...soapy just about describes the taste of the case of picante I received.

Ozark...I have tried Mexican food all over the country and Mexico. Can't say that any of them are alike, or that any of them compare to authenic Mexican. The closest I ever came was in grad school when I had lunch and supper with a local Mexican family. Six tacos for a dollar, cheese, lettuce and tomato were 10 cents extra per taco. Mrs. Rodregues made her shells from corn flour, stuffed them with potato, carrot, and pea mix. No meat! She then folded the shell over the mix, stuck in several tooth picks to hold everything together, and fried them in an iron skillet with just a little Crisco. She made her own sauce with green tomato and some very hot peppers. Tacos were small but six just about did it. Have never tasted Mexican as good as that...anywhere.

Pretty sure your right on the Pace. I like the stuff, but I always carry a small shaker jar of ground cayenne pepper when I go out for Mexican. Get some interesting looks from both clientel and staff. Chipotles in Colorado Springs is where my kids take me when I go for a visit. I like their salads with lots of black beans and their muy picante sauce. "Dos cupa por favor", as a side. And more cayenne of course.

Speaking of mixing stuff with your Pace...I use one of those little electric choppers to grind up the Jalapenos, fresh onion and carrots to add to Pace or any taco sauce. Can't wait to try some fresh Jalapenos or Habs in that blend this fall. You probably use deer meat as I for your choice of taco meat Sam. I've even had wild boar which was interesting. Currently I use the large store bought taco powder mix to simmer with the meat. Once I get a decent crop of hot peppers I plan to experiment with those in place of the store bought mix. How do you prepare the meat for tacos and burritos?

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

mraider - In my mis-spent youth in SoCal I spent a lot of time in Tijuana. The beer-drinking age was 21 in CA, you see. I loved the street-vendor tacos there, and I still make them that way.

Yes, I know it wasn't safe or sanitary, and the meat was of unknown origin and species. The asking price was 25 cents, but you could always get them down to a dime - no lower. Those tacos were GREAT, and my young age and alcohol influenced my decision to keep eating the things. I never got sick from them, anyway.

I usually use pork for my tacos. Dice up pork roast or chops into small pieces, 1/4" to 1/2", and put them in a pan with some cooking oil to fry. I use a stove, not a fire of burning 2-by-4's as in the original.

In a separate pan, cut up hot chiles and cilantro into little-bitty pieces and boil them in water. Use enough water that it's very runny, but the little chile and cilantro pieces still come with it when it's poured. Add some salt and a little onion and/or garlic to that. The street vendors always had two different pans of this salsa - and they'd ask "gringo or Mejicano". I like hot stuff, so I always got the "Mejicano" version.

When the meat is brown and done, put it on a corn tortilla, dribble the "salsa" on it generously, and roll it up into a cylinder. That's it - and it's GOOD.

This is authentic, and it's what they called "tacos" in TJ. Mexican restaurants now would call it a carne asada burrito, I guess.

Helena, MT

Well there you go again Sam, messin with my head. It's just now 6:00 AM here and I have to go dig through my freezer for some 'Rosalita's' pork tamales for breakfast. Ariba, ariba...endelay. Catch ya later!

Mena, AR(Zone 7a)

Hola muchochas y muchochos. Coma esta? that is about all the espanol I know. Just thought I would tell you about how I like to preserve my peppers. I have a Dehydrator and I use it for my Habernaro and Hot Red Peppers and then put them in proccessor and grind them up. I put them in the Glad freezer plastic bags. Have not tried on the Jalapenos yet. I usually can those or put in the freezer. I freeze quite a lot of my bell peppers. I also make a lot of bell pepper sweet relish and my husband likes his salsa a lot hotter than I do. So he gets out a jar of the sweet relish and puts the habernaro flakes in it. He is like a child in a candy store with his own relish. I haven't tried it but it must be good.
Talk to y'all later.

Helena, MT

marionr...thanks for the comment on dring peppers. Your husband and I would get along just fine. Wife made some tamalie soup yesterday and told me to go and 'kick mine up a notch'. Don't have any idea where that expression came from, but its fitting. I like that method of grinding first then new meaning to freeze dried. I had been meaning to ask jleigh, the person who Dmailed me recently on the same subject, the question about removing the stems before dehydrating the whole pepper.

jleigh's comment on dehydrating hot peppers..."I'll be joining soon, I just wanted to try it out as a free member first to see just how helpful and informative it could be. So far it has surpassed my expectations.

For the drying and grinding of HOT peppers you may need a few extra things I didn't previously mention.
1. You will have to do it outside or in a garage. I've found that dehydrating and grinding indoors produces a not so pleasant experience. There's nothing like laying on your floor coughing and crying for three hours while your Red Savinas are drying.
2. When you grind the peppers I recommend using a fan to blow the dust away from you.
3. I also recommend wearing protective eyewear such as shop goggles, disposable rubber gloves and a dust mask, I learned the hard way.
4. Keep a bit of milk and a few dixie cups handy in case you get some in your eye. It helps, a little. Not sure how to get habanero powder out of a nose though...
and last but not least
4. Invest in a second coffee grinder if you choose to turn your peppers to powder or flakes... my relatives like hot peppers, but not in their coffee when they visit.
I'm glad I could be helpful. There are so many helpful and interesting people on here, I am looking forward to everything DG has to offer." Thanks jleigh for letting me post this even though I did not ask first...know I'm going to get busted for this sort of thing soon.

I have a dehydrator which has been sitting on a shelf in my garage for about six years unused, but no more.

marionr...your Spanish surpases mine big time, but I learned early to say 'Muy picante...por favor. Not sure I spelled any of that correctly, or even pronounce it right...but it gets me some smiles and the hot stuff at the Texican Tacarias.

The wife does a great sweet corn relish as well as some bean relishes. I'm not really into that stuff but a dose of hab pwd should kick it up a notch. Just a note on the bean thing. I ordered a dozen or so pkgs of dried beans for the garden this year. Plan to make chili, burritos, soups, etc., with my own beans next fall. That got some raise eyebrows and a couple of guggawhs when I mentioned it before, but like anything else its far superior when you raise it yourself, and what could be easier than dried beans to raise, store, and cook?

While on the subject of grinding hot peppers I would like to check out some taco powder recipes. I purchase several large plastic containers of this each hear. No reason not to make my own if I can locate some recipes to try, and I'll wager Dave's the place!

I here those blue Glad freezer bags are the best for storage. I cleaned out Wally World of the quart sized ones last year, and 'glad' I did. Anything petroleum related is going biserk. Gasoline $10 a gallon next year..shish! I think that translates to $75 for a bag for groceries.


Mena, AR(Zone 7a)

Here is a picture of the molcajete (mortar & pestle) the DH uses to grind his hot peppers on an as needed basis. It is not as bad as grinding up a lot of peppers at one time. I have a little trouble with the dust when I wash it out. I do have lots of protection when doing a lot of peppers at one time and I use all of your methods. I have watery eyes even when I chop a few onions so you know what it is like with the peppers.

This message was edited Apr 23, 2008 7:47 PM

Thumbnail by marionr
Helena, MT

marinor...great picture there of the mortor and pestal...looks like it belongs in the wife's antique collection. The idea you suggest reminds me of the cast iron skillet principal. You never use soap when cleaning a cast iron skillet. Scrape it clean under hot running water, dry and put it away. I am allowed one cast iron skillet for browning deer meat for my chili. Fix a grilled cheese sandwich in it and you still have the pepper heat. A dedicated mortal and pestal for grinding small amounts of hot peppers makes good sense. Where can I get a molcajete (mortar & pestle)?

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