How To Preserve A Whole Season Of Hot Peppers With Virtually No Work

  • By: Linda Simpson
  • Date: November 11, 2023
  • Time to read: 20 min.

Discovering the Joy of Pepper Preservation: A Personal Journey

Preserving hot peppers has always been a passion of mine, and I’ve discovered a wonderfully simple way to do it. In this article, I’m excited to share with you my method that captures the full season’s bounty with hardly any effort.

Whether you’re new to preserving or an experienced hand, I promise this guide will make keeping those delicious hot peppers a breeze, ensuring you can enjoy their fiery taste all year long. Let’s dive into the world of pepper preservation together!

Preserving Peppers as Nature’s Clock Ticks

Even though we’re transitioning into winter, it still feels oddly like spring… after months of staring at dead grass and star thistle, it’s like a breath of fresh air to look at the ground and see actual green stuff coming up:

Around now, I try to be vigilant in keeping all of the vegetables in the garden ultimately picked.

It could theoretically frost at any time, and these days the farm is way too big to wait until a frost warning to start picking everything.

Also, if there’s a frost warning, it’s probably chilly as hell and I’d rather pick peppers on a sunny afternoon than in the dark, bundled up in winter clothes with mittens and a headlamp.

Simple and Efficient: My Approach to Preserving Peppers

I’m yearning for the post-frost relaxation that’s just around the corner.

I’m way too busy for really complicated preserving projects, so I had to deal with these peppers in the fastest, most efficient way possible.

Here’s everything I’ve learned in my years of preserving about how to get it done.

Freezing: The Quick and Easy Preservation Method


Making the Most of Your Harvest: See Why Freezing is Beneficial

Hot peppers freeze really, really well. In general, I try to stick to one method of preservation, meaning that I don’t like canning out of the freezer.

In my experience, canned goods taste the best when you get the produce from the field to the jar in as little time as possible.

While I ordinarily favor other methods of preservation, hot peppers are a delightful exception. Freezing these fiery morsels is notably time-efficient and unexpectedly simplifies my interactions with them. After they’ve hardened in the chill, hot peppers become less resilient, thereby easier to handle in a variety of culinary or preservation endeavors – from dicing for a spicy dish to preparing for a hot pepper jelly following trusty pectin box protocols. This process of freezing peppers not only benefits me practically but also highlights the unique characteristics of these vibrant vegetables.

Practical Tips for Freezing Peppers

To freeze the peppers, either vacuum seal them or put them in thick Ziploc bags designed for the freezer. Label and date and throw ’em in the freezer. When you want to use them, don’t thaw them first. They’re much easier to seed and mince while they’re still rock hard, and since they’re so small they often thaw right on the cutting board when you’re working with them.

To seed the peppers, cut the stem end off first, then slice the pepper in half lengthwise, and then run a (gloved) finger down each half to brush the seeds out. All hot pepper varieties freeze well, whether they’re thick or thin-skinned. Note: Frozen peppers will lose a lot of their crunch, so the only project you won’t really be able to do later makes pickled peppers.

Hot peppers freeze really, really well. In general, I try to stick to one method of preservation, meaning that I don’t like canning out of the freezer.

In my experience, canned goods taste the best when you get the produce from the field to the jar in as little time as possible.  

Hot peppers are my exception, though. The advantage of freezing hot peppers (other than the time) is how much easier they are to work with when they’re frozen.

  • To freeze the peppers, either vacuum seal them or put them in thick Ziploc bags designed for the freezer. Label and date and throw ’em in the freezer.
  • When you want to use them, don’t thaw them first. They’re much easier to seed and mince while they’re still rock hard, and since they’re so small they often thaw right on the cutting board when you’re working with them.  
    To seed the peppers, cut the stem end off first, then slice the pepper in half lengthwise, and then run a (gloved) finger down each half to brush the seeds out.
  • All hot pepper varieties freeze well, whether they’re thick or thin-skinned.
  • Note: Frozen peppers will lose a lot of their crunch, so the only project you won’t really be able to do later makes pickled peppers.

Ristras: The Art of Drying Peppers


Dryed red-pepper-ristras

Thin-skinned red chilis dry very well and look wonderful strung into ristras.  

Red chilis, notable for their thin skin, are excellent for drying, and exhibit an arresting beauty when assembled into ristras. The kitchen space illuminates with an artistic flare when adorned with my collection of culinary projects – the interweaving garlic braids, the fragrant bouquets of bay laurel and blooming marjoram, along with an assortment of dried pepper ristras including jalapenos, bell peppers, and serranos.

You might also find accents of edible flowers like the subtly sweet pineapple weed or vibrant calendula, wonderful for brewing into a warm tea. Actively engaging in such projects allows us to confront the impending cold weather head-on, by preserving the bountiful harvest for the months to come. Notably, the drying process should be carefully managed. Select the ripest of red chilis for the optimum result.

From drying to pickling or even transforming the chilis into a spicy jelly, each method presents a unique sensory adventure that is both informative and delightful.

When cultivating your own peppers, you might find suggestions in your seed catalog indicating which varieties excel in drying. However, in the absence of such guidance, varieties like cayenne or Thai are reliable go-tos.

These peppers are often favored due to their unique characteristics, such as their thickness, size, and heat level, which make them ideal for drying. For instance, cayenne and Thai peppers are slender with a thin cell wall, which allows them to dry thoroughly and evenly.

The heat level can also intensify during the process, resulting in a more flavorful dried pepper.

With the transition of weather from hot to cold, you can dry these peppers ensuring their preservation amid changing conditions. In the following segments, we’ll walk you through the steps to properly dry these varieties for optimal results.

Steer clear of jalapenos and other green chilis or any of the mild Italian frying peppers- their flesh is too thick and will mold before it dries.

Shopping at a farmers market, keep your eyes peeled for piles of red chilis.  

This time of the year, you can usually get ridiculous deals for huge amounts of peppers.

For crafting ristras, a pepper preservation method, a sturdy sewing needle and some fishing line are essential. The role of the needle is to string the peppers onto the fishing line, allowing them to be hung up for drying. This additional information makes the project requirements clearer and gives helpful context to our readers.

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As weather patterns shift, the efficient preservation of peppers is essential. This is not your traditional New Mexican braided ristra style. We’ve opted for the Busy Preserver Method due to its simplicity and speed. This prepares us to optimize our harvest before the frost arrives.

Start off by picking out a needle with an eye big enough to accommodate the fishing line. It is advised to use fishing line because it provides strength and resistance, making it ideal for pepper preservation. You start by threading through the stems of the peppers with the needle already threaded with fishing line. String each pepper onto the line, making sure to leave adequate space in between to aid in the peppers’ drying process.

For the creation of ristras, accurately measure a length of fishing line about the length of your arm to thread and hang the peppers.

Start your ristras creation by threading your needle. Carefully guide the needle through the very top of the chili pepper, ensuring to avoid puncturing the pepper’s flesh. It’s crucial to make sure the needle penetrates through the pepper’s stem, thus providing secure hanging for the drying process.

With care, shift the chili peppers to the far end of the line, ensuring a few extra inches of space. This strategic arrangement aids in the adequate drying of the peppers when crafting ristras, a critical step when preserving these fiery gems during season shifts.

Tie the fishing line in a loop around the top of the chili so it stays in place.

Now just thread the rest of the chilis onto the fishing line until you get a length that you like.  

Ristras are essentially strings of chilies traditionally used in various cuisines but also hold a special place in home decorations, especially in southwestern American households.

Starting off with making ristras, loop the top chili for proper grip. Ristras require a warm, dry initial hanging spot. Ideal locations could be a sunny window or a dry attic that ensures adequate heat and freedom from moisture.

On sunny days, do not hesitate to let the ristras bask fully in the sunlight. Keep a close watch for the right time duration and signs of readiness, which typically include a deepening of the color and a stiff feel of the peppers.

If it’s sunny they can even go right out in the full sun.

With proper drying, these peppers can be preserved for over a year. I love adding these dried chili peppers to a variety of recipes. From a smoky lentil soup to a hearty beef stew, a feisty salsa to a rich tomato sauce, they truly enhance the flavor. Let me share a couple of my favorite recipes.

Also, in terms of pepper preservation, it’s key to keep the peppers in a cool, dry area for optimal longevity. And do you know when’s the perfect time to start this preservation process? It aligns with the changing seasons! Lastly, to ensure that your peppers are fully dried before storage, look for…

Ever wondered why you might want to rehydrate chili peppers? Well, it’s a fantastic method to preserve them just before the dreaded first frost hits in Mendocino. The process of rehydrating these little firecrackers can be broken down into just three simple steps. Step one: Find a suitable bowl and place your chilis inside. Step two: Submerge them completely with boiling water. Finally, step three: Let your chilis bask in the heat for a good 20 minutes. Upon completion, you’ll discover your chilis revived ready for cooking – soft, juicy, and full of flavor.


Embracing Autumn in Mendocino: Peppers Pickled the Italian Way

As the autumn colors start to paint Mendocino, it’s time to ponder about the preservation of your peppers. Ever noted the hardy thick-skinned peppers or the mellow Italian frying ones? These are uniquely more compatible for pickling than other varieties. If you’re reluctant to freeze your peppers, here’s a snappy pickling solution. Doubtless, you’d be keen to learn the secret to ace the quick pickle? Stay tuned!

This cherished recipe takes me back to those crisp fall evenings at my dad’s Mendocino home. As the landscape transformed and began to bloom with newfound life, we’d plant ourselves at the kitchen table, carefully salvaging the season’s final harvest of garden peppers. With glasses of rich red wine and an array of cheeses by our side, we would prep jars brimming with peppers, accentuated by fragrant garlic and olives, gently bathing them in freshly boiled vinegar. All the while, we’d relish these delightful pickles, born from the same family recipe.

It’s quite a sight to see preserved peppers beautifully arranged on a sizeable antipasti platter, accompanied with salami, prosciutto, marinated artichoke hearts, and a variety of cheeses. A platter of these garden preserves truly brings a delightful, vibrant, and flavorsome treat to the table during the cooler fall months.

To prepare for your pickling endeavor, you’ll need several pint jars. Sterilize these jars in boiling water to kill off any potentially harmful bacteria that could compromise your preservation. The specific number of jars required will be based on the number of peppers you’re planning to pickle.

Italian Pickled Peppers Recipe

Italian peppers recipe


  • Mixed peppers (red, green, yellow): 2 pounds
  • White wine vinegar: 2 cups
  • Water: 2 cups
  • Salt: 2 tablespoons
  • Minced garlic: 4 cloves
  • Bay leaves: 2-3 leaves
  • Whole black peppercorns: 1 tablespoon
  • Extra virgin olive oil: Enough to cover the top of the peppers in the jars


  1. Preparation: Wash the peppers and dry them. Cut into strips or rings as preferred.
  2. Making the Brine: Combine equal parts of white wine vinegar and water in a pot. Add salt to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Cooking Peppers: Add the peppers to the boiling brine. Cook for a few minutes until they soften slightly, ensuring they retain a bit of crunch.
  4. Adding Flavors: Introduce minced garlic, bay leaves, and whole black peppercorns to the mix for added aroma and flavor.
  5. Jarring: Carefully place the cooked peppers into sterilized jars. Pour over the hot brine to cover the peppers. Then, top with a layer of extra virgin olive oil to seal in freshness and flavor.
  6. Sealing and Storing: Seal the jars tightly. Store in a cool, dark place. Let the peppers marinate for at least a week before enjoying.

Detailed Guide to Pepper Preservation

Initiate your pepper pickling process by getting your boiling water canner to a boil. To avoid bacterial contamination, it’s essential to cleanse your lids and jars thoroughly in warm, soapy water right before you start.

Begin by pouring your choice of vinegar—the type is up to you, but different varieties will alter the flavor—into a non-reactive pot, such as glass or stainless steel, which won’t respond to the acidity of the vinegar. Bring the vinegar to a boil, making sure to use ample volume to completely submerge the peppers. If you’re not certain about how much to use, fear not! Simply ensure it’s enough to cover the peppers fully. Next, it’s time to prep your peppers. Wash each pepper thoroughly. If you’re unsure whether to do this before or after you’ve cut them, it’s generally easier to wash the peppers before slicing. And remember, wash your hands immediately if you’re handling hot peppers to prevent unwanted spicy encounters!

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Understanding how these steps fit into the overall process of preserving peppers can truly enhance your pickling prowess. By executing these initial steps properly, you’re setting yourself up for a successful preservation process. Now, let’s move forward with the rest of the steps in this guide to preserving peppers.

After properly sterilizing the jars to remove any harmful bacteria, proceed by meticulously filling them with whole peppers. For a fusion of savory flavors, intersperse layers of piquant peppers with olives, aromatic garlic, and zesty peppercorns. Ensure each ingredient is compactly stacked, for optimal immersion once the scalding vinegar is introduced. To maintain harmony in taste, one might want to consider the quantity or ratio of olives, garlic, and peppercorns to the peppers. Emphasize that pickling is a prime preservation method particularly adept at enduring the chill of winter months, aligning well with the article’s context on seasonal change and early frost preparation.

Start by fully immersing the peppers in boiling vinegar, making sure to keep around a 1/2″ gap from the top of your container – this is known as the ‘headspace’. Use a sanitized chopstick to stir within your jar gently, this helps in removing any trapped air bubbles. Remember to measure and readjust the headspace if necessary, after eliminating the bubbles.

To avoid contamination, it’s crucial to wipe the jar rims clean before securing the lids. Finally, allow the jars to undergo a 10-minute processing duration for optimum pickling results. Note, the processing time may require alteration if you reside in a high-altitude region. An essential tip – always harvest your peppers before the frost season for the best preservation outcome.


Year after year, I apply straightforward preserving techniques such as freezing, crafting ristras, pickling, or morphing peppers into jelly. I’ve refined these methods to perfection, and I’ve never looked back!

Firstly, I preheat my oven to a moderate temperature and place the jars inside to sterilize them for an optimal duration. This procedure ensures the jars are bacteria-free. After sterilizing, I carefully place the peppers into the jars for the pickling process. It’s important to pick a quality vinegar, as it greatly impacts the taste of your pickled peppers.

Pour boiling vinegar over the peppers, ensuring that they are fully submerged. Once done, ensure the jar is cooled before you seal it tightly. It’s crucial to secure the lids properly, as it helps to preserve the peppers and maintain their taste.

Do note that the shelf-life of the pickled peppers is based on how well it was sealed, how it is stored, and it’s always advisable to be aware of any signs that the peppers might have gone off, such as changes in color, odor, or texture. Understanding these nuances will give you a well-rounded view of the pickling process.

As the weather in Mendocino begins to change, it is essential that we carefully harvest and preserve our peppers. Part of this process involves the practice of pickling, specifically a method where the lids are sealed while the vinegar is still piping hot. Ideally, these should be stored as refrigerator pickles, not shelf-stable canned goods.

Despite deviating from the standard, my family has been utilizing this preparation for years without any issues. As per conventional knowledge, such methods could raise eyebrows among food safety authorities like the USDA. Nonetheless, the outcome of this process is worth it – an annual produce of pickles that are rich in crunch and flavor.

To prepare, consider a balanced ratio of peppers, garlic, olives, and peppercorns and the type and amount of vinegar to be used. This method might seem unconventional, yet it serves a practical purpose during the seasonal transition in Mendocino. It’s not just about making pickles; it’s about effectively preserving our harvest for the inevitable frost.

Crazy. The USDA would say I’m going to die, but the pickles are crunchy and delicious every year.

Quick note – my apologies for the noticeable absence of images for this recipe! I haven’t yet had the chance to make these this year. When I do, trust that I’ll update the post immediately with snapshots of the process and final output. Now, let me give you some hints and vivid descriptions that may help you visualize the recipe better in the meantime.

When we transition from the scorching and arid summertime towards the cool and misty fall, preserving peppers becomes a crucial task. Here’s where vacuum sealing or bagging the peppers comes into play – my preferred method for preservation. It’s not just about convenience; there are tricks to do it efficiently and I’ve picked up a few over the years.

Apart from this, I dive into the adventures of pickling the peppers and crafting jelly out of them. I never shy away from experimenting with different flavors and unique ingredients, it’s all a part of the fun! Lastly, I can’t stress enough the importance and urgency of plucking all vegetables before the first frost hits. It’s not just about preserving the fruits of your hard labor, it’s a race against nature’s clock, which comes with its own triumphs and hurdles.

Seize the changing of seasons and transform your bountiful pepper harvest into an irresistibly tasty hot pepper jelly.

This unique blend, a fusion of the spicy fresh peppers and the delectable sweetness of jelly, is an extraordinary addition to your breakfast toast or pairs brilliantly with cheese and crackers.

Adhere to the pectin box instructions, utilizing your stored peppers you can luxuriate in your garden’s flavors long past its harvest season.

Each year following the harvest, I find myself with a surplus of frozen peppers. There’s something intensely satisfying about turning these peppers into a sweet, tangy, and spicy concoction – hot pepper jelly. If you have never tasted it, you’re in for a treat. It’s a unique mix of flavors with a burst of spicy heat that might surprise you. Each pepper lends its own distinct taste, so it’s a different experience every time.

My love affair with this jelly started with my first taste some years back. Now, making this jelly has become a cherished activity during the transition from hot to cold weather. It’s the perfect condiment on a chilly day, and it’s simply magical when the sweet heat warms you up from the inside.

Joining me in Mendocino and turning homegrown peppers into jelly has become a fall tradition. It’s not just about preserving the harvest, but also about creating memorable experiences and flavors. While we mostly use a mix of peppers, you can experiment with your favorites. The beauty of hot pepper jelly is its versatility – no two batches are ever the same.

Remember, the joy of food is not just about eating, but also about sharing and connecting with others. So I invite you to try making your own batch of pepper jelly. It’s not just a recipe; It’s a story waiting to be told.

If you want to savor the goodness of your preserved peppers, try pairing them with cream cheese and crackers. How about breakfast quesadillas with scrambled eggs, homemade hot pepper jelly from my last year’s preserved harvest, cheddar cheese, and cilantro? It’s a delicious way to start the day and make the best use of preserved peppers.

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Adding preserved peppers to a pot of chili and spreading it over warm, buttered cornbread creates a satisfying and cozy meal perfect for a chilly Mendocino autumn.

Use your preserved peppers to create a delicious dipping sauce by melting them down. Elevate the flavor by introducing finely chopped garden-fresh herbs.

Consider adding preserved peppers to heartwarming dishes to add a little zest, such as enriching soups and stews, perfectly suited for Mendocino’s chilly and misty climate.

Imagine diversifying your cooking repertoire with a vibrant addition: hot pepper jelly. Collected from our garden’s harvest, it’s not merely a substitute for hot sauce but rather an enhancement.

Take, for example, a stir-frying dish of green beans and tofu; the hot pepper jelly introduces a tantalizingly unique flavor. Conjuring up the warmth of fall, it finds its rightful place in a myriad of dishes, your culinary creativity being the only limit.

Why not try a simple dish specifically designed to showcase this delightful gem from our garden? Hot pepper jelly, with its blend of heat and sweetness, adds warmth and depth to your fall dishes, making them all the more special.

There’s not really any need for me to write out the recipe, it’s in the pectin box.

I’ve tried almost all of them: Ball (high and low sugar), liquid Certo, Pomona’s. They’re all delicious.  

If preserving peppers at home is what you fancy, consider using Pomona’s natural pectin. This low-sugar solution is available at most health food stores and is perfect for crafting a tasty pepper jelly that lasts. It ensures your jelly sets correctly while preserving the authentic taste of your homegrown peppers. Truly a must-have ingredient for your homemade pepper jelly.

As the summer gives way to fall in Mendocino, the thrill comes from experimenting with a spectrum of home-grown peppers in your cooking. From mild bell peppers to fiery habaneros, the possibilities are endless for adding a unique twist of flavor to your meals. But don’t forget, preserving those autumn-harvested peppers is key – and truly simple—to savor your garden’s rewards all through the colder periods.

So, let your creativity flow with freezing, crafting ristras, pickling, or making jelly as you brace for the cool weather.

Every pectin box, which plays a crucial role in preserving flavors of peppers in the jelly, suggests specified quantities of sweet bell peppers and spicy peppers. However, I personally tweak these ratios to my preference.

For example, for a mild jelly, I might increase the proportion of sweet bell peppers, or for a fiery twist, add more hot peppers. It’s also imperative to mention which types of peppers are used, as they each introduce different flavor profiles.

Interestingly, I gravitate towards freezing peppers for my jelly. This method aligns best with the pectin preservation process and ensures a consistent taste in the jelly. Yet, why I prefer this over other preservation methods, is a topic of its own.

A crucial preservation detail is to ensure the recipe’s requested quantity of prepared peppers (e.g., 4 1/2 c.) is met with your choice of peppers. Notably, peppers like Jalapenos and Bell peppers are suitable for Mendocino’s variable climate.

Preparation involves washing, deseeding, and chopping the peppers to the size required by your selected preservation method before measurement.

Stick to the specific proportions of peppers, liquid and sugar as outlined in the original recipe—for instance, you might need a cup each of peppers and sugar, and two cups of liquid.

The exact measurements provide the right balance of flavors and ensure optimal preservation during the preparation of your peppers. Altering these ratios could potentially affect the taste and texture of the dish.

The possibilities are endless using the different pepper varieties and heat levels available.

Make it fresh if you want, but pulling the frozen peppers out in December to make jelly for holiday gifts makes for a really great afternoon project.

Additional Methods of Preserving Peppers

Preparing your favorite hot peppers for the winter is an excellent way to make sure you can still enjoy their spicy flavor even when it’s cold outside.

Hot peppers are a great addition to any meal, as they have numerous nutrients that are essential for a healthy lifestyle.

Red pepper and green pepper both come with benefits.

Hot peppers are packed with vitamin C and capsaicin, which has numerous health benefits such as reducing the risk of cancer, lowering blood pressure, and burning fat faster.

They also taste amazing in almost any food! In this article, you will learn about the best ways to preserve hot peppers for winter so that you can enjoy their spicy flavor all year long. Starting today, let’s explore more about

Preserving Hot Peppers Using Oil

If you like to make hot pepper sauce, you can preserve peppers in oil, which makes a perfect gift for your loved ones!

The hot peppers will last longer when preserved in oil, and the sauce will remain flavorful even after several months once you open it.

Hot peppers will taste amazing with oil even after 4 months. The best part is that you can save even more money by making your own pepper sauce.

To preserve hot peppers in oil, all you need is a large clean jar.

Make sure you choose a jar that is large enough to fit all your peppers with some extra room.

Wash the peppers thoroughly and remove the stems.

Next, pour the hot peppers into the jar and pour the oil of your choice over them until the jar is full.

Once the jar is full, close the lid tightly and store it in a dark and cool place.

Make sure the jar is not placed in direct sunlight or it may get spoiled.

Preserving Hot Peppers in Vinegar

If you love eating peppers as a salad, you can preserve them in vinegar and have them all year long.

This method is similar to preserving peppers in oil, except that you need vinegar instead.

Once you’ve preserved your peppers in vinegar, you can use them to create delicious salad dressings, marinades, and even cocktails!

You can also use them to make your own hot pepper vinegar, which is great for a variety of different uses.

Start by cleaning and cutting the peppers into smaller pieces, and then add them to a jar or a sealable container.

Make sure you choose a container that is large enough to fit all your peppers with some extra room.

Pour the vinegar of your choice over the peppers, and seal the container tightly.

Next, store the container in a dark and cool place until the peppers are completely submerged in vinegar.

Make sure the container is not placed in direct sunlight or your peppers may get spoiled.


Now that you know how to preserve hot peppers, let’s explore more about the process.

First, you need to decide how you want to preserve your peppers.

Once you’ve decided between oil, vinegar, or drying, you need to clean and cut the peppers.

Next, you need to pour the preservation medium over the peppers and store them in a dark and cool place.

You will be able to enjoy the spicy flavor of hot peppers throughout the winter if you follow these simple steps!

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