If you like a bit of spice in your food, add a dash or two of chili. It is commonly used in Mexican dishes such as enchiladas, chili con carne, and burritos. It is also widely used in Indian cookery, but you can add it to many other dishes if you want a bit of heat and warmth in your food.
However, is there a way that you can ensure that you have a constant supply of chilies without having to go to the store all the time? The answer is simple; you can freeze fresh chilies and have them on hand whenever you need them.
There are different ways of freezing them and in this article we will go through these and we will also tell you how to defrost them.
How to Freeze Fresh Chilies
There are three ways in which you can freeze chilies. You can freeze them as they are, in other words, whole. Alternatively, you can freeze when cut up which is the better option.
Another good way in which to freeze chilies is in an ice cube tray. Ice cubes are great as all you have to do is throw them into the dish. You can even add other herbs and spices into the ice cubes.
How to Freeze Whole Chilies
Freezing whole chilies is the easiest way to freeze chilies, but it only works if you think you need that many whole chilies. Just remember that they will only last for a couple of days in the fridge after being defrosted.
However, if you think that you can use them up, it is a fast way to freeze chilies. This is the way to go about it.
1. Wash the chilies
You don’t want to freeze your chilies with dirt on them as this dirt will end up in your dish. After you have washed them, dry them with a paper towel. If you freeze them while they are wet, you will probably end up with ice around your chilies.
2. Put the chilies in a freezer bag
When you put the chilies in a freezer bag, remember to squeeze out as much air as possible otherwise freezer burn may occur. This will mean that the chilies will lose flavor, color, and texture. They will still be safe to use in dishes, but they won’t give you the taste and heat you are looking for. The only problem with a freezer bag is that the chilies may stick together and you will therefore have to defrost all of them. One way around this is to flash freeze them first, but this is time consuming.
3. Put the bag in the freezer
How to Freeze Prepared Chilies
If you think that you don’t need to use a whole chili in a dish, then you can slice the chilies so that you can take out just as much as you need for your meal. This is the way to freeze chopped chilies.
1. Slice the chilies
You have the option of slicing or dicing your chilies or you could even cut them into halves.
2. Flash freeze the chilies
So that you can take out as much of the chilies as you need, you should flash freeze them first. Arrange them on a baking tray and make sure that the slices don’t touch each other. If they are frozen in this way and put in a bag, they shouldn’t stick to each other. When you have done this, wrap the tray in cling film and put it in the freezer.
3. Put the chilies in freezer bags
Take the baking tray out of the freezer and put the frozen chilies into a freezer bag. Make sure that you squeeze out all the air so that freezer burn doesn’t occur.
4. Put the bag in the freezer
How to Freeze Chilies in Ice Cubes
It’s a great idea to freeze chilies in ice cubes. Then all you have to do is throw the ice cube in the dish and it will easily melt. You can even freeze other herbs with the chilies. If you are making a Mexican dish, put in some coriander and if you are cooking Thai, lemongrass and ginger would be a good addition. Garlic is great with any dish (if you’re not a fan of how strong it can be, substitute it for wild garlic). This is the way to go about freezing chilies in ice cubes. It is a little time consuming, but it is worth it in the end.
1. Wash the chilies and any other herbs and spices you are using.
2. Cut your ingredients
Slice the chilies and other ingredients into small strips so that they will fit in the ice cube tray. It is a good idea to cut the strips in similar sizes. You could even grate the chilies.
3. Put the chilies in the ice cube tray.
You will need to put an average of two teaspoons of chili in each ice cube slot and then top up with water.
4. Put the ice cube tray in the freezer
Cover the ice cube tray in cling film and put it in the freezer for a few hours.
5. Put the ice cubes in a freezer bag
You can then put the freezer bag in a container and then put it in the freezer. You will be able to take out a cube whenever you need one.
Tips For Freezing Fresh Chilies
- Chop the chilies instead of freezing them whole. By doing this, you can defrost just as much as you need and you won’t waste any.
- Mix up other herbs and spices with your chilies in ice cubes. Then you will have a ready-made spice mix to throw in your dish.
- Put labels on your containers. If you are freezing different types of chilies, it is a good idea to put the name of the chile on the container. This also goes if you are freezing different spice mixes.
For How Long Can You Freeze Fresh Chilies?
You can freeze fresh chilies for around four months so you will have them for a good time to come. If you use a lot of chili in your cooking, it is worth freezing chilies in bulk. After about four months, the flavor will start to deteriorate and, as flavor is a key factor, you will want to throw the chilies away.
How To Defrost Fresh Chilies
If you have frozen whole chilies, it is best to defrost them in the fridge for a few hours. Don’t defrost them on your kitchen counter top as after two hours bacteria can start to form and you can be at risk of food poisoning.
If you have frozen your chilies in thin slices, you can put them straight into the pan and cook them off in oil with other spices.
If you have frozen the chilies and perhaps other herbs and spices in ice cubes, put the cubes in a pan and allow the ice cubes to melt over a low heat. Then, cook them off.
Can You Refreeze Fresh Chilies?
The thing that gives chilies their lick and flavor is the oil in them. If you refreeze chilies, the freezing process will draw out some of the oils and the chilies will become tasteless. It is best if you can freeze the chilies in portion sizes that you can use within a couple of days.
Is It a Good Idea to Freeze Chilies?
The simple answer is yes. If you freeze them fresh, they will be just as good as if you use them without freezing. It doesn’t matter if the color of the chilies change slightly as they are in the dish for flavor, not appearance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hopefully you now know all there is to know about freezing fresh chilies, but in case you want to know more, we have answered a few questions here.
What can I use frozen chilies in?
You can use defrosted chilies in anything that you would use fresh chilies in. Throw some in a curry (see also our article on freezing curry) or add to chili con carne.
Can I Freeze Dried Chilies?
There is no need to freeze dried chilies because they last for around six months at room temperature, even longer if you put them in an airtight container.
Can I Freeze All Varieties of Chili?
Yes, you can, even the really spicy ones such as habanero, scotch bonnet, and bird’s eye chilies. Just remember to label the containers so that you don’t defrost an extra spicy one when you want a mild chili.
Can I Freeze Chili Paste?
Chili paste is great rubbed on any types of meat and fish, can be used in salads, and used as a dip. It is easy to make. Put chili peppers, sliced onions, and garlic into a food processor and blend. Then heat it in a pot with olive oil for twenty minutes and you’re ready to go. However, can you make a batch and freeze it? The simple answer is yes. The best way to do this is by the ice cube method. Then you can defrost just as much as you need for a dish. Remember to label the container so that you don’t confuse it with something like curry paste.