Jalapeno peppers are a popular chili pepper that can add a nice kick of heat and flavor to many dishes. While they are great when fresh, you may want to freeze some jalapenos for later use. Stuffing and freezing the peppers is a great way to preserve them for several months. Here is a complete guide on how to properly stuff and freeze jalapeno peppers.
Stuffing and freezing jalapenos is a relatively simple process that involves the following steps:
- Choose fresh, undamaged jalapeno peppers.
- Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove seeds and membranes.
- Make the filling of your choice.
- Gently stuff each pepper half with the filling.
- Place stuffed halves on a baking sheet and freeze until solid.
- Transfer frozen stuffed jalapenos to freezer bags or containers.
- Store in freezer for up to 6 months.
The key things to keep in mind are choosing high-quality fresh peppers, removing the seeds and membranes for less heat, and freezing the stuffed peppers properly so they retain texture and flavor. With the right technique, you can enjoy homemade stuffed jalapenos even when they are out of season!
Selecting the Right Jalapeno Peppers
Choosing fresh, high-quality peppers is important for the best results when freezing. Here are some tips for selecting jalapenos:
- Pick firm, smooth peppers that feel heavy for their size.
- Avoid peppers that are shriveled or have soft spots.
- Select peppers with vivid green color without brown spots.
- For milder heat, choose smaller 3-4 inch long peppers.
- For hotter flavor, opt for larger 5-6 inch peppers.
- Pick peppers that are smooth and shapely for easier stuffing.
Premium quality, peak freshness jalapenos will hold up best when frozen and stuffing. Lower quality peppers may turn mushy or watery when thawed after freezing.
Preparing the Jalapeno Peppers
Once you have collected high-quality jalapenos, the next step is prepping them for stuffing. Here is how:
- Rinse the peppers under cold running water.
- Use a sharp knife to slice them lengthwise down the middle.
- With the knife tip, scrape out the seeds and membranes.
- Optionally, rinse inside the pepper halves to remove any remaining seeds.
- Pat the outside and insides dry with paper towels.
Removing the white membrane and seeds significantly reduces the heat and also allows you to fill the cavity with stuffing. Leave a small portion attached at the stem end so the halves hold together.
Tip for Less Heat
If you want a very mild stuffed pepper, you can soak the prepped halves in ice water for 5-10 minutes which helps wash away some of the capsaicin oil that gives jalapenos their kick.
Making the Filling
One of the great things about stuffed peppers is you can get very creative with the fillings! Here are some delicious options:
Melted cheese makes a simple and tasty filler. Options include cheddar, Monterey jack, cream cheese, goat cheese, or Mexican queso. Grate or dice the cheese small to make filling the pepper easier.
Cook and season ground beef, turkey, chicken, or sausage then mix with shredded cheese for a hearty stuffed pepper. You can also use deli meats like ham.
Chopped shrimp, crab meat, tuna, or salmon mixed with cream cheese ormayo makes a nice light seafood filling.
Beans and Rice
Combine cooked rice, beans, corn, and seasonings for a vegetarian southwest black bean and rice filling.
Onions, garlic, corn, diced tomatoes, spinach, or diced peppers can be sauteed and seasoned for an all-veggie mix.
Feel free to get creative and use ingredients you have on hand! Just avoid very moist fillings that may turn watery when frozen.
Stuffing the Jalapeno Halves
Once your filling is ready, it’s time to stuff the peppers. This part requires some gentleness and patience. Here are some tips:
- Use a small spoon or paring knife to fill the cavity generously without over-stuffing.
- Press the filling in gently without tearing the pepper half.
- Mound the top of the filling slightly higher than the edges.
- As you fill each half, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- The stuffed halves can touch but should not be crowded together.
Take your time while stuffing to prevent ripping the peppers. Place batches in the freezer as you stuff more so they freeze individually instead of sticking together.
Wearing disposable gloves helps keep your hands clean while stuffing many jalapeno halves.
Freezing the Stuffed Jalapenos
Freezing the stuffed peppers correctly is vital for preserving texture and flavor. Follow these steps:
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place stuffed jalapeno halves on the sheet without crowding.
- Put in freezer for 2-3 hours until completely hard and frozen solid.
- Transfer frozen peppers to zipper freezer bags or airtight containers.
- Remove excess air and seal bags or lids tightly.
- Return containers to freezer immediately.
Freezing in a single layer first prevents the stuffed halves from sticking together so you can take out only the amount needed later. Packaging in bags or containers protects them from freezer burn.
- Label bags or containers with contents and date frozen.
- Place freezer bags in rigid containers for added protection.
- Use frozen stuffed peppers within 6 months for best quality.
Thawing and Using Frozen Stuffed Jalapenos
Accessing those frozen stuffed jalapenos is easy and convenient when you’re ready to cook with them. Here are some tips:
- Remove desired number of pepper halves from the freezer container.
- Place in the refrigerator overnight to thaw gradually.
- For quicker use, run under cool water until thawed enough to separate.
- Gently peel halves apart if they stick slightly when thawed.
- Use in recipes, on pizzas, tacos, nachos, etc. just like fresh stuffed peppers.
The frozen and thawed jalapenos will be slightly more tender than fresh. Their stuffing may also be looser. But the peppers will still have the same great flavor!
Cook Them Up!
Now comes the best part – cooking up those stuffed frozen jalapenos! Here are some tasty ways to use them:
- On nachos – top with shredded cheese and bake.
- Breakfast tacos – add to scrambled eggs.
- Chili – mix into the pot towards the end.
- Quesadillas – place halves inside before frying.
- Casseroles – mix into enchiladas, lasagna, etc.
- Salads – dice up and mix with greens and dressing.
- Pizza – arrange halves on homemade or store-bought pizza.
The stuffed jalapenos add a kick of flavor, heat, and texture to so many dishes! Use within 6 months before the texture and flavor declines.
Enjoy Your Handy Frozen Stuffed Jalapenos!
With the proper technique, you can easily freeze stuffed jalapeno peppers to have them conveniently stocked for 6 months. Just remember:
- Select the freshest, firmest jalapenos.
- Seed and clean thoroughly before stuffing.
- Fill with your desired ingredients without overstuffing.
- Freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet first.
- Store in zipper freezer bags or airtight containers.
- Label and use within 6 months.
Now you can add jalapeno poppers and other stuffed pepper treats to meals anytime with your frozen stash. Feel free to experiment with new creative fillings too. Enjoy!
Can you freeze raw jalapeno peppers?
Yes, you can freeze raw jalapeno peppers. Simply rinse and pat dry the fresh peppers. Cut off stems, slice or leave whole, then place in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze solid. Transfer to freezer bags or containers for long term storage. Raw jalapenos last 4-6 months in the freezer.
Do you need to blanch jalapenos before freezing?
Blanching is not necessary when freezing raw jalapenos or stuffed jalapenos. The key is freezing them quickly at peak freshness. Blanching can actually cause them to become too soft when thawed.
Can frozen jalapenos be canned or pickled?
It is not recommended to can or pickle previously frozen jalapenos. They may become too mushy. Only can or pickle fresh raw jalapenos, then freeze if desired. The canned or pickled jalapenos can be thawed and used as stuffed pepper fillings.
How long is the shelf life of frozen stuffed jalapenos?
Properly frozen, stored, and thawed stuffed jalapeno peppers will retain optimal quality and flavor for about 6 months in the freezer before starting to degrade. After 6 months, they will become progressively more mushy and less flavorful.
What’s the best way to thaw frozen stuffed jalapenos?
For best results, move frozen stuffed jalapeno halves from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight which allows them to thaw gradually. For quicker use, hold them under cool running water for a few minutes until pliable enough to separate. Do not thaw at room temperature.
Can you re-freeze previously frozen jalapeno peppers?
It is not recommended to freeze jalapeno peppers more than once. Re-freezing after thawing will degrade the cell structure. They will become mushier and lose flavor. For best quality and texture, only freeze peppers once.