The serrano is a long, thin pepper that originates from Mexico. If you are growing this variety of pepper in your own garden, you’ll want to know how to preserve it, especially if you have a bumper harvest.
Serrano peppers only have a shelf life of around 3 to 5 days if you keep them on your kitchen counter at room temperature. For this reason, we’re going to explain how to extend the life of your peppers by storing them in various ways.
Store Your Serrano Peppers In The Refrigerator
If you store your serrano peppers in the refrigerator, they can stay fresh for around 1 to 2 weeks. Put your peppers into a sealed bag, expel any excess air and then put this into the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
Store Your Serrano Peppers In The Freezer
To extend the life of your serrano peppers, you can also store them in the freezer. This will extend their life to around 6 to 8 months. Here’s a quick guide to preparing and freezing your serrano peppers. This method works equally well for green, red, or orange serrano peppers.
- Wash your peppers to remove any dirt.
- Wipe the peppers dry with some paper towel or let them air dry for around an hour.
- Place the washed and dried peppers into a freezer or Ziploc bag.
- Make sure that you expel all the air from the bag before sealing it.
- Place the peppers in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.
Here’s a similar method on how you can prepare sliced and cooked serrano peppers in the freezer.
- Slice your serrano pepper after removing the seeds and white membrane. Remember that it’s the seeds that contain most of the heat.
- Place your pepper slices onto a flat tray or baking sheet.
- Put this into the freezer until the slices are frozen.
- Take the frozen slices out of the freezer and pop them into a freezer or Ziploc bag.
- Squeeze the air out of the bag before sealing it and placing it into the freezer. Sliced serrano peppers will last for around four months before losing some of their flavor and heat.
How To Preserve Your Serrano Peppers Using The Cold Pack Method
Cold packing involves putting your sliced serrano peppers into brine and storing them in jars.
Here’s what to do:
- Slice your serrano peppers after removing the seeds and white membrane.
- Place the pepper slices into clean, sterilized jars. Mason jars or Ball canning jars are ideal for this.
- Fill the jars with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of pickling salt, 3 cups of distilled white vinegar, 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, and 8 cups of filtered water. Make sure you leave a ¼ inch gap at the top. This mixture should make enough for around three one-quart jars.
- Put the jars with the peppers into the refrigerator after sealing them tightly with the lid.
- You can also add additional spices like garlic, mustard seeds, dill, and peppercorns to the water in the jars if you wish.
- Your serrano peppers should last for at least 6 months in the fridge in jars that remain sealed. Once you’ve opened a jar, you should use the contents within 6 weeks.
Preserving Serrano Peppers By Drying Them
One of the oldest methods of preserving peppers is to air dry them. Here’s what you need to do:
- Thread a long needle with some strong thread, twine, or fishing line.
- Push the needle through the stem of each pepper to string them together. Make sure that you leave some space between each one to facilitate good airflow.
- Hang your string of peppers in a warm, dry spot that is well-ventilated.
- It will take around 3 to 4 weeks for your peppers to dry completely.
- Once the peppers are completely dry and brittle, you can put them into some clean jars and store them in the pantry or store cupboard. They will keep for around one year.
Preserve Your Peppers By Turning Them Into Hot Sauce
Another way to use up and preserve a bumper crop of serrano peppers is to make them into a hot sauce that you can then use to spice up any dish. All you need are a few basic ingredients and a few different peppers. Here’s what to do:
- 1 cup of chopped onion
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 large peppers like poblanos, chopped
- 2 to 4 serrano peppers, minced
- 1 pound chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- Saute the onions, garlic, and peppers until they start to change color.
- Add the tomatoes, vinegar, salt, and sugar and simmer until the tomatoes start to break down.
- Let the mixture cool a little, and then puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.
- Pour the mixture through a sieve into some clean and sterilized bottles or jars.
- Seal tightly and place in the refrigerator.
- This hot sauce will keep for around 1 month in the refrigerator.
- You can also store the sauce in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Dehydrate Your Serrano Peppers To Make Chili Flakes Or Powder
If you have a home dehydrator, you can easily use it to dehydrate your serrano peppers to make chili flakes or chili powder. Here’s what to do:
- Wash and dry your serrano peppers.
- Cut them into uniform slices after removing the seeds and the white membrane.
- Line your dehydrator trays with parchment paper, as this will make it easier to remove the dried pepper slices.
- Lay the pepper slices on the trays in a single layer, ensuring a little space between each slice.
- Set the temperature of your dehydrator to 135 degrees Fahrenheit (55 degrees Celsius).
- Put the prepared trays into the dehydrator and turn it on.
- Leave the peppers in the dehydrator until they’re completely dry and brittle.
- Once dry, take them out and let them cool slightly.
- When the peppers are cool, put them into a plastic bag and smash them up into flakes.
- Alternatively, you can pop them into a grinder and grind them into powder.
- Store your flakes or powder in a clean jar and keep this in the pantry or the store cupboard.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can also dry your serrano peppers in the oven at the lowest possible temperature – 150 degrees Fahrenheit or 65 degrees Celsius. Check them often to make sure that they’re not cooking. It’s a good idea to keep the door of the oven ajar slightly to allow any moisture to escape.
This process may take up to 3 hours for the peppers to be completely dehydrated. Keep checking them after about 30 minutes and remove any that are dry.
Char Your Serrano Peppers Before Freezing Them
Instead of freezing raw serrano peppers, you can also char them first. This will give the peppers a smoky flavor. Here’s what to do:
- Clean and dry the peppers.
- Place them under the grill and cook them until they just start to blacken. Make sure that you turn them in order to char all sides.
- Cool them in a bowl that you’ve covered with a clean tea towel.
- Once cool, gently peel off the skins and remove the seeds.
- Put your serrano peppers into a freezer or Ziploc bag.
- Expel excess air from the bag and seal it.
- Store this in your freezer for up to 8 months.
Preserving Your Serrano Peppers In Oil
Another way to preserve your serrano peppers is to store them in oil. Here’s the easy method:
- Wash and dry your serrano peppers and remove the stems.
- Pack the peppers into clean and sterilized jars such as mason jars.
- Fill the jars with the oil of your choice. Olive oil is always good for this.
- Put the lids on the jars and seal them tightly.
- Keep the jars in the dark, cool place, or store them in the refrigerator. These will keep for around 3 months when stored in the pantry or longer when you keep them in the fridge.
You can also skin and deseed your peppers first and cut them into strips before placing them in jars and preserving them with oil.
If you want to store your peppers in oil for longer than 3 months, put them into an airtight container and store them in the freezer for up to 1 year.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a dried serrano pepper called?
Dried serrano pepper is known as Chile Seco.
Can you eat serrano peppers raw?
Serrano peppers can be eaten raw or used in many different types of dishes.