Whether you are growing ghost peppers for commercial reasons or personal use, proper storage is critical to gaining the full benefit of the one time world’s hottest pepper—Bhut jolokia. However, since they are hybrid and possess both hotness and a fruity flavor, they can quickly lose their intense heat if not properly stored.
Storing your ghost peppers without losing their heat depends on your storage capacity to control elements like temperature, pepper processing, humidity, sunlight and air. Fresh ghost peppers are refrigerator suited, while dry ghost peppers are not fit for storing in the freezer or refrigerator.
Although ghost peppers are insanely hot, their heat is not as long-lasting. So, it would be best if you had proper storage conditions to protect and retain their spiciness. Since the essence of ghost peppers lies in their flavor (heat), this article will enlighten you on how to store your ghost peppers without losing their heat. Here we go!
What Storage Conditions Are Best for Retaining Ghost Pepper Hotness?
Storing ghost peppers in ways that retain their heat and preserve their flavor means paying attention to their storage environment and condition. Ideally, you should not wash your ghost peppers after harvest, as washing them can speed up spoilage.
Instead, you should use a soft brush to brush away the dirt and store it immediately after harvest. Usually, a temperature of about 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit is excellent for ghost pepper storage.
Here are some storage conditions you should give maximum attention to keep your ghost peppers in good condition during storage.
Storage Factors That Can Cause Ghost Peppers To Lose Their Heat
- Storage temperature
- Time at when you began storage
- Ghost pepper outer wall of flesh thickness
Both fresh and dried ghost peppers are different and will not conform to the same storage conditions. Also, peppers with thicker flesh will keep longer than those with thinner flesh.
How To Store Fresh Ghost Peppers Without Losing Their Heat
Fresh Ghost Pepper Storage by Refrigeration
Refrigeration is one of the best ways to store fresh ghost peppers while preserving their heat. It is an excellent method to extend the shelf life of ghost peppers in their fresh state. Below are critical steps to follow for proper ghost pepper refrigeration.
- Clean your ghost peppers with a paper towel to remove surface dust, particles and moisture.
- Place clean, fresh ghost peppers in an airtight plastic bag and seal them to reduce humidity
- Place sealed fresh ghost pepper in the crisper drawer or outer compartment of the fridge to avoid over freezing.
Fun Fact: Fresh ghost peppers are cold-sensitive and will develop unsightly and poor tasting cold spots if sufficiently exposed. Unless you mean to freeze them.
Fresh Ghost Pepper Storage Using the Freezer
Here is how to store fresh ghost peppers in the freezer.
- Properly wash your fresh ghost pepper to remove dirt and keep them clean and ready-to-use.
- Dry them with a paper towel and allow them to further air dry for about an hour.
- Secure fresh ghost peppers in a freezer specific ziplock bag.
- Place the bag in your freezer till you want to use the frozen ghost peppers.
Fun Fact: Frozen ghost peppers are palatable until after six months.
Now that you know how to store your ghost peppers when fresh without losing their heat. It is time to learn how to keep dried ghost peppers and still have them in excellent usable condition.
How To Store Dried Ghost Peppers Without Losing Their Heat
Drying ghost peppers allows them to hold on to most of their capsaicin, which is somewhat hotter than fresh ghost peppers. The reason is that dehydration makes them retain a concentrated flavor.
Here are practical steps to store dried ghost peppers to retain their heat.
- Cut ghost peppers into smaller sizes, for example, 3.8-inch strips.
- Place cut ghost peppers in a food dehydrator and allow two to four hours. Oven drying on a cookie sheet is also excellent for ghost peppers.
- Secure dried peppers in an airtight bag, jar or container and store them in a cool, dry and dark place.
- You can also further process the dried ghost pepper into pepper flakes or powder for better long-lasting dry storage.
Different Methods for Drying Ghost Peppers
The whole idea of drying ghost peppers before storage is to dehydrate them. Dehydration removes moisture content to delay or eliminate the decay process. However, you should be careful with exposing the dried ghost peppers to excess air, especially after processing them into powder.
Here are more methods for drying ghost peppers that also yield excellent results.
If you are using an oven, you should reduce it to the lowest temperature, about 140 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit and leave the door slightly open to allow free circulation of air. You should oven dry for three to six hours until complete dryness is achieved.
Air drying allows you to string ghost peppers onto a thread and place them in a warm, dry room for several weeks.
You can also sun dry ghost peppers as an intense form of air drying when you leave them in the hot sun for several days till they are crisp and dry.
Unless you grind your dried ghost peppers into powder, you will have to reconstitute them every time you need to use them. You can soak them in warm water for about 30 minutes to loosen them up, after which you may grind them into a paste. Although reconstituted dried ghost peppers will not appear like the fresh ones, they still retain their fresh flavor and taste.
Other Methods of Preserving Ghost Peppers and Their Heat Retention Effet
Besides refrigeration, freezing, and drying, there are more methods for keeping ghost peppers. However, they may significantly reduce their heat retention compared to the conventional ghost pepper preservative methods.
Here is a table highlighting other methods of preserving ghost peppers and their effect on heat retention and flavor.
|Ghost Pepper Methods of Preservation||Description||Heat/Flavor retention|
|Refrigeration||Fridge storage/Relatively long duration/Suitable for fresh peppers.||Retains maximum heat/Flavor.|
Freezer storage/More extended storage duration/Suited for fresh peppers.
Retains full heat/Flavor.
|Storage by dehydration/Eliminates moisture content/Fitting for dried ghost peppers.|
Retains more heat/flavor than fresh peppers.
Preservation in concentrated salt solution/loses fruity flavor.
|Retains considerable heat/Flavor.|
|Cooking||Cooking into hot sauce/Suited for fresh peppers.||Retains significant heat and flavor.|
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does Ghost Pepper’s Heat Last While Eating It?
Ghost peppers are hot with an intense spicy yet sweet and fruity flavor. You can feel the intensity of the heat while consuming ghost peppers for about 30 – 45 minutes. However, the heat peaks within 10-15 minutes after it kicks in. Your body will respond immediately to the capsaicin by causing you to feel hot, sweat, experience teary eyes and sometimes hiccups.
For How Long Can You Freeze Ghost Peppers?
You can safely freeze ghost peppers for as long as nine months. However, the duration depends on whether you are freezing them in the freezer or the refrigerator. Freezer freezing lasts for nine months, whereas the fridge can only last for a few days. It is better to chop your ghost peppers and secure them in an airtight freezing bag before freezing.
What Is the Storage Limit of Fresh Ghost Peppers?
Fresh ghost peppers can last for two to four hours at room temperature or in the pantry and about five to seven days when refrigerated. Further storage of fresh ghost peppers will increase spoilage and decay beyond these time limits. However, freezing fresh ghost peppers will keep them for about six to nine months. You should secure your fresh ghost peppers in a freezer bag before keeping them in the freezer.
Storing ghost peppers without preserving their heat seems pointless because the heat is what gives ghost peppers their essence. You can keep your ghost peppers fresh or dried, provided you take solid environmental precautions. Furthermore, if you have purchased dried or processed ghost peppers, you will find additional storage guidelines and shelf life information on their container label to guide you.