Living on a farm in Brazil, I've gained local in-depth knowledge of food, plants, and traditions, which I share through my articles.
Why I Freeze Chillies
The first question you may have is "Why freeze them?" My answer to that would be, "As a means of preserving them." You see, where I live in Brazil, I am not able to buy chilies locally. I have one plant that looks to be on its way out at the moment. It is becoming scraggly. It is now producing what I assume will be its last flurry of chilies, so I will remove them and freeze them for use at a later time.
The type of plant I am growing is called a malagueta. It is a popular variety here in Brazil and one that is commercially bottled into a sauce. I prefer to cut them up and use them in my cooking instead of using a bottled sauce. Unlike some chilies, the skin of this variety is quite thin and fragile.
When I bought the seeds for the pepper a couple of years ago, the packet said the malagueta ranks as a 9, I am assuming this is on a scale of 10. I have included a table below listing some of the popular chilies with the Scofield rating.
- Kitchen shears
- Ice cube tray
Step One: Preparing Chilies for Freezing
I first cut the chilies off the plant using a pair of kitchen scissors. Because the skins are thin, I don't want the chili to come in contact with my skin. Gloves could also be worn for his procedure.
Once in a bowl, it is into the kitchen.
At this point you can wash them if you wish. If you have used any insecticide/pesticide or live in an area with pollution, I would suggest that you do this. I personally don't for a few reasons. One is I don't use anything to kill bugs, plus our air is about as clean as it gets living so close to the beach. Another reason is that if I try to wash these chilies, they will disintegrate because, as I have mentioned before, they are fragile. I do wipe them and check for insects, or any damaged ones.
If concerned, you can wash and dry them or simply wipe them.
Step Two: Put Them in an Ice Cube Tray
Next, place the chilies in an ice cube tray. Depending on the size of the chilies, you should be able to get a few in each section. Remember if they are wet or damp, they will freeze together which you don't want. A bit of patience now will pay off later. This is a good time to inspect each chili. I like to leave the stem attached because when it comes time to use them, I can hold the stem and cut the chilies using my kitchen scissors into my curries, burgers or salsa.
Once you are satisfied, carefully place in the freezer. Leave until frozen. Depending on the size of your freezer, you can use multiple trays for the entire harvest.
Step Three: Airtight Bags
The next step is simply to place them in a freezer bag. Squeeze out any remaining air and return to the freezer. They will now be ready for you to use whenever you need fresh chillies. According to The Old Farmer's Almanac 2017, these can be kept frozen for 10 months.
Some people recommend blanching before freezing. This is something I personally don't do and have seen no degradation in them by not doing so.
The Scoville Scale
The Scoville scale, named after its creator, Wilbur Scoville, in 1912, is a method for determining the heat of chilies. Although this method has been used for many years, it is thought to be flawed as it is based on human opinion. Taste testers try a prepared sample and give it a rating. The problem with this system is that there is often a huge variation on the results in different laboratories.
The American Spice Trade Association use their own rating system resulting in pungency units. This measures the amount of heat producing chemical in the various varieties.
Scoville Rating of Peppers
|1,500,000-2,000,000||Law enforcement pepper spray, Trinidad Moruga Scorpian|
Naga Viper Pepper, Infinity Chili, Bhut Jolokia chili pepper, Trinidad Scorpion Butch T pepper, Bedfordshire Super Naga, 7 Pod's Chili
Red Savina habanero
habanero chili, Scotch bonnet pepper, Datil Pepper, Rocoto, Piri Piri Nudungu, Madame Jeanette, Peruvian White habanero, Jamacian hot pepper, Guyana Wiri Wiri, Fatalii,
Byadgi chilli, Bird's eye chili (aka. Thai Chili Pepper), Malagueta pepper, Chiltepin pepper, Piri piri (African bird's eye), Pequin pepper
Guntur chilli, Cayenne pepper, Ají pepper, Tabasco pepper, Cumari pepper (Capsicum Chinese), Katara (spicy)
Serrano pepper, Peter pepper, Aleppo pepper
Espelette pepper, Jalapeño pepper, Chipotle, Guajillo pepper, New Mexican varieties of Anaheim pepper, Hungarian wax pepper, Tabasco sauce
Anaheim pepper, Poblano pepper, Rocotillo pepper, Peppadew, Sriracha sauce
Pimento, Peperoncini, Banana pepper
No significant heat
Bell pepper,Cubanelle, Aji dulce
© 2013 Mary Wickison
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on July 28, 2013:
Freezing them makes it much more convenient, at least for me. I think I will need to start another plant as yesterday my husband declared he wants to make a Thai BBQ sauce and try to sell it! Much like your husband and growing mushrooms.
Thanks for the vote.
Dianna Mendez on July 27, 2013:
I love a bit of heat from chili peppers, but not where it kills my enjoyment of the food. Great chart on the heat factor. I didn't know you cold freeze them. That will be useful when we get an overabundance from a harvest. Voted up.
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on July 25, 2013:
That can be frustrating. I find that different people seem to taste them differently as well. My husband says I use too few, and my lips are tingling from them.
When using chilies that I am familiar with (heat wise), I tend to lean to the the side of caution. Additional chilies can be chopped and place on the table for those that like their food spicier.
Thanks for stopping by.
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on July 25, 2013:
Hi Ms Dora,
In the past, I would get my husband to try a pepper and tell me if it is hot. He seems to have a higher tolerance than I do.
I do miss the availability of fresh chilies in the store, however one plant seems to take care of our needs.
Thanks for reading.
Pauline Davenport from Isle of Man on July 25, 2013:
i agree with MsDora - a really good lesson in the freezing and the heat content.
I've been so frustrated in the past, expecting some lovely warm heat from a chilli dish, only to find it tastes far too bland, or find that I've used far too much and the food really is too hot to enjoy.
This is a brilliant hub for me and will be very useful for future coooking endeavors. Thanks a lot Blond Logic
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 24, 2013:
This is my new lesson for today--freezing and determining the heat of chili peppers. Thank you!