Peppers are a joy to grow and always tasty in a variety of dishes! They come in many different varieties, from bell to spicy chili. They can be the key ingredient in your meal or a yummy side dish -from sauces and salsas to salads and soups.
While you may be an avid fan of canning this versatile treat, do you know how to preserve peppers without canning, too?
Preserving fresh peppers is a great idea if you know you’re going to be serving up pizzas, curries, jambalayas, and more in the months to come. However, you don’t necessarily need the fanciest canning equipment, or the best canning know-how, to keep them fresh.
Stick around, and I’ll take you through how to preserve peppers easily – without needing to reach for that canner.
Why preserve peppers without canning?
While canning is an incredibly handy way to seal and store food for months (even years) to come, there may be occasions where doing so simply isn’t convenient. If you’ve grown tons of peppers this past year, too, it may be that you simply don’t have enough canning jars available!
Great ways to preserve peppers without canning
Let’s run through a few ways to preserve peppers that I have personally tried at home – which always provide quick, tasty additions to a whole host of family meals.
Freeze your peppers
One of the best and easiest ways to preserve any pepper is by freezing it. Your peppers may not be as crunchy when you defrost them, but they will retain their taste and spicy kick.
The best thing about freezing peppers is that, unlike many other vegetables, peppers do not need blanching before freezing.
You can freeze the whole pepper, or, to save yourself time in the future, and space in your freezer, chop the peppers into strips and remove the seeds.
Place them into freezer bags or even freezer-safe storage pots, and they’ll be ready to use in all of your stir-fries, burritos, fajitas, salsas, soups, and more!
This technique works for all kinds of peppers and is a great and easy way of keeping them fresh for longer.
For extra flavor, you could also roast the peppers beforehand, then freeze them. Go wild!
Preserve peppers by drying out
Dry peppers are ideal for adding some extra spice and kick to your meals. Many of us buy them pre-dried and ground, but did you know that it is incredibly easy to dry them yourself?
If you happen to be in a dry climate or have a warm, dry area in your home (above 68 degrees F, ideally), then you can easily air dry them.
Air drying works best for thinner peppers, such as chillies – any thicker, and you’re at risk of your peppers going moldy before you can enjoy them.
Keep the stems on the peppers, and use a needle and some string to tie them together. There should be enough space between each pepper, ideally a few inches, to ensure that there is plenty of airflow between them and that they do not compromise each other.
Hang the peppers up, ensuring that they get plenty of sunlight.
It should take up to a month for your peppers to dry out completely. Once they are brittle to the touch, they will be ready for you to enjoy!
You can leave the dried peppers on the string, but do take them away from sunlight when they have finished drying. You can also untie them and place them into jars, again, keeping them away from the sunlight.
While you’re making use of jars, you’re not having to travel the full canning route. Simple!
Alternatively, you could also dry the peppers quickly using your oven. Set your oven to about 150 degrees F, and place the peppers individually spread across a baking sheet.
Place them in the oven, keeping the door ajar to allow any excess moisture to escape. Keep checking on the peppers roughly every 30 minutes, ensuring that you rotate them when necessary.
Completely drying out your peppers can take up to two hours, so clear your schedule! When they are done, place them in a jar away from the sunlight.
Finally, you can, of course, dry your peppers out using a food dehydrator. Using a dehydrator is definitely the quickest and easiest way, although the other two methods aren’t too technical or time-consuming.
What’s more, this method requires you to invest in some extra kit – the choice is yours!
Preserving peppers as sauce
If you like using peppers as ingredients, then the chances are that you already have plenty of signature pepper recipes in your cookbook!
As it happens, plenty of sauces can be frozen and kept for another time. This is an excellent way of saving perishable ingredients and giving your future self a great home-cooked meal without having to lift a finger.
Can you imagine? Coming home from work too tired to cook, but your past self has you covered with something warm and filling that’s good to go in a matter of minutes!
All it takes is a little planning, and you can pop some of your favorite homemade sauces into the microwave, ready to eat.
Sauces such as roasted pepper pasta sauce or even fajita sauces taste as good as fresh when defrosted, and make for ideal bulk meals that you can freeze in batches for different occasions.
Have you ever heard of chipotle peppers? Now’s the time to make your own in the comfort of your own kitchen.
For this particular twist, you will need a smoker – again, an extra investment, but one I seriously recommend if you want to make the most of your peppers in creative new ways.
While smokers can be expensive, you can also get some great stovetop smokers, like this one, which will do the job.
Chipotle peppers can only be made using over-ripe jalapeños. You will be able to tell them by their deep shade of red. Take the whole over-ripe pepper and place it in the smoker. Cook them at a low temperature until they are completely dried.
Then, as you would with air-dried peppers, simply place them in a jar in the cupboard until you are ready for that sweet and smoky taste!
There are multiple ways to preserve peppers without having to can them. In fact, canning them isn’t even the tastiest way of keeping them fresh! From roasting and smoking to dehydrating and air-drying, there’s no end to the ways you can get the best out of all of the different flavors in various peppers.
Thankfully, none of these methods take very much time. As long as you are willing to put in a little effort, you could have flavourful and readily-prepared peppers right at your fingertips, all year round.
So, forget throwing away all of your ripe peppers and use them to make something a little bit different. At the very least, you could place them as-is into your freezer, ready for another day. Either way, you should never have to throw out a pepper again.