Susan prefers to use natural ingredients whenever possible. It is usually cheaper, easier and greener.
When you buy fresh chillies for cooking, or if you grow your own, there is often too many of them to use straight away. I also buy mine at a discount 'yellow sticker' price when there is only a day left on the 'sell-by date'. I like a little bit of heat in my cooking, but usually I only need one chilli pod at a time, so I am often left with quite a few left over. I really don't like waste because it's not good for the environment, and it's not good for my wallet. So I freeze the chillies I don't use straight away to stop the waste and to save a bit of money. As with many frugal living ideas, it's all about a bit of preparation but taking a little time to do it pays in the long run.
How to Freeze Chillies
The oil from the inside of a chilli pod is pungent and will get on your fingers as you prepare them. Using soap and water to clean off the oil is rarely effective straight away, so I would recommend using food preparation gloves when handling the pods. If you don't have these then please make sure your hands a thoroughly cleaned before touching your face, lips and eyes and before going to the bathroom! Your skin will burn if you do not.
- Take the healthier-looking chilli pods from a packet or plant, ones that are not discoloured or damaged at all. They do not have to be a perfect shape, but ones which look diseased will not last well in the freezer.
- Using a chopping board and a sharp, small knife, remove the stalk and the other end of the pod.
- Cut the pods in half lengthways.
- With the knife scrape away the seeds and the internal membrane.
- Slice the chillies into thin pieces—the sort of size you want to use in your cooking. You can leave the pods in the two halves, or you can cut them into chunks if you prefer to cook with them this way.
- Spread the slices or halves onto a baking/cookie sheet. This is done for two reasons—spreading the pieces like this will mean they will not all stick together in a lump, and it also means they freeze quickly which preserves them better.
- Place the baking sheet in the freezer for approximately 20 minutes, until the pieces have hardened.
- Without allowing the pieces to thaw and stick to one another, put them straight into a freezer bag or airtight plastic container and store it in the freezer.
- When your recipe calls for chilli, spoon just what you need straight into your cooking pot and put the rest back into the freezer for next time. No waste!
How Long Can You Keep Chillies in the Freezer?
The chillies will last well for about 6 months in a freezer. Usually, it's best to use fresh vegetables and fruit within 3 months, but chillies seem to last a little longer. If the prepared pods were frozen as described they should not be watery or mushy when they are used in cooking.
© 2018 Susan Hambidge
Rod on May 06, 2020:
I grow as range of chillies to use in my cooking, Birds eye, Habanero, Naga Viper, and Naga Bhut Jolokia. Pick them as they ripen and what I don't use I just put them in separate freezer bags and freeze them without cutting up. Just take what I need through winter for my cooking straight from the freezer chop up as required, simple and no fuss. I do use an ULU to chop them that way you don't need to touch them. Google ulu got mine in Alaska but you can get them online, great for fine chopping of chillies I ions etc.
Susan Hambidge (author) from Kent, England on January 14, 2018:
Thank you for your comment S Maree. I will try freezing peppers too if it works well. I am really trying to waste nothing and have found my freezer to be a saviour!
S Maree on January 14, 2018:
I do the same with all kinds of peppers! They freeze well and are great in so many recipes! The really hot ones I mince superfine, spread thin on a sheet of plastic wrap & freeze. Break off as much as is needed & put the rest back in the freezer. Your method is a little simpler than mine, so I'll use it next batch! Thanks!
Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on January 14, 2018:
Absolutely. I keep some frozen, and generally have some pickled too.
Ashutosh Joshi from New Delhi, India on January 14, 2018:
Do they retain the kick this long?
I usually prefer breaking the stalk (not cutting) and then keeping in air tight container, again no freezing. They last longer than usual and remain fresh for weeks.