A Paper Bag Is Key To Making Jalapeños Last Longer In The Fridge

Fresh jalapeños might be one of the most frustrating peppers to store in the kitchen. These chilies last less than a handful of days on the counter before they begin to mold, giving the average home cook a relatively short time window to incorporate them into a variety of recipes. Thankfully, they can be popped into the fridge to extend their shelf life for up to two weeks. However, storing fresh jalapeños in the fridge isn't as easy as just tossing them into the back and hoping for the best. You'll need a paper bag to properly stash these chilies away.

All peppers, including jalapeños, are incredibly sensitive to humidity. Their delicate flesh will start to soften and rot if they are not thoroughly dried, so you must ensure that you ward off excess moisture for as long as possible. A paper bag does wonders here, as it essentially wicks off any condensation from your peppers as they sit in the crisper drawer of your fridge.

Once they have been properly stowed away in the fridge, watch for any signs of spoilage in your jalapeños. Wrinkling in peppers typically does not indicate they're going bad — in fact, slight scarring usually indicates a riper, spicier chili. On the other hand, any soft spots, rancid smells, or surface mold means that your jalapeños are rotting and should be promptly discarded.

Pickle jalapeños to make them last even longer

If a week or two doesn't sound like enough time to use up your jalapeños, pickle them instead. The brine will act as a preservative that will stop foodborne pathogens from growing in your peppers, allowing you to enjoy them for up to six months. Most home cooks find that pickling is much easier than it seems, especially if you plan to store your marinated jalapeños in the fridge.

To pickle jalapeños, start by either chopping or slicing them into pieces. This will ensure that your chilies will quickly absorb the brine. Most recipes primarily use white vinegar, but other variants such as apple cider work just as well and can add complexity. When you combine the pickling juice with salt and (optionally) some sugar over low heat, use this time to sanitize the glass container that your chopped jalapeños will be stored in. A quick, 15-minute boil should kill off any germs on the surface of your mason jar that could later cause your food to mold. Once everything's sanitized, you can pour your jalapeños and pickle mixture and store it in the fridge once it cools. 

If you want to pickle your jalapeños but don't want them particularly spicy, cut their spice out by removing their white pith. Contrary to popular belief, the placenta of a pepper typically contains the most capsaicin.

Other ways to make fresh jalapeños last awhile

Freezing remains another excellent way to extend the life of fresh jalapeños that, unlike pickling, does not affect their flavor or heat level greatly. To properly store these chilies in the freezer, you'll have to do a bit of prep work to prevent them from clumping or developing freezer burn. First, you'll want to remove their woody stems. Once that's done, flash-freeze each pepper on a baking tray for an hour to prevent them from sticking to each other. They can then be kept in a sealable plastic bag and kept in storage for up to six months. Your frozen jalapeños won't go bad if you use them after, but you might notice their flavor and heat have dulled.

Jalapeños are also great when dehydrated, as this makes them pantry-stable for approximately 12 months. You can slowly roast them at your oven's lowest setting until they reach the texture of jerky, or dry them further until they are brittle and able to be pulverized into chili powder. For a less conventional but equally tasty preservation method, turn your extra peppers into cowboy candy. Their sweet kick makes them an excellent party dip, but they also work beautifully as a garnish for burgers or hot dogs.