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Keeping the Freshness in Fresh Chiles

By Cook's Illustrated Published May 2011

Fresh chiles have a relatively brief shelf life in the refrigerator. Is there any way to make them keep their crisp texture and fresh flavor longer?

Fresh chiles like jalapeños and serranos have a relatively brief shelf life in the refrigerator. We tried four different refrigerator storage methods to see if any would help these chiles keep their crisp texture and fresh flavor longer. We sealed whole chiles in a plastic bag; left them loose in the crisper drawer; sliced them in half (to allow liquid to penetrate) and stored them in plain white vinegar; and sliced them in half and submerged them in a brine solution (1 tablespoon salt per cup of water). In both the bag and the crisper, the chiles began to soften and turn brown within a week. Storing in vinegar was also not ideal; after about a week, the chiles began tasting more pickled than fresh. The brine-covered chiles, however, retained their crispness, color, and bright heat for several weeks and, after a quick rinse to remove excess brine, were indistinguishable from chiles when we sampled them raw and in salsa. After a month they began to soften, but they remained perfectly usable in cooked applications for several more weeks.

Halved and stored in brine, fresh chiles will keep their crisp texture and bright flavor for up to a month.