Learn how to save a wrinkly or shriveled bell pepper from ending up in the trash. No reason just to toss them out, they are often still safe to eat! We also talk about other types of peppers like jalapenos.
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No one likes wrinkles.
Well maybe if your an elephant you are cool with it, but us humans hope to avoid wrinkles in our lives as long as we can.
One of the foods that often fall victim to wrinkles is the pepper. Do wrinkly peppers still have culinary usefulness or is their destination the trash?
❓ Why Do Peppers Wrinkle?
Why do they wrinkle? The reason is moisture loss. It's the same reason raisins are wrinkly but that is done on purpose. Despite our best efforts with time wrinkles are going to develop, whether it's on our face or our peppers.
Now some peppers look naturally wrinkled. I have looked through seed catalogs with peppers shown and seen some long green hot peppers and others that appeared like they already had wrinkles. They weren't really wrinkles though.
🔥 Cook Them
I never, ever throw out any pepper because it is wrinkly. That isn't enough. They are still very much edible. When you cook them I don't really tell anything is different about them. It's the perfect time to make some fajitas!
When I worked at a grocery store we would remove the peppers with wrinkly or softer skin from the displays and give them to the kitchen to use in their prepared dishes. No reason to waste.
🌶️ What About Jalapenos?
This applies to Jalapeno, Poblano, Serrano and other hot peppers are well.
If you go to a grocery store that sells reduced priced produce and there is a big bag of jalapenos that look a little wrinkly, buy them up and freeze them in a reusable freezer bag for later use in any dish you want to add some heat to.
🔪 Cut Off the Wrinkled Part
Peppers don't wrinkle all over at once either. You could cut part of the pepper off that is wrinkly and save the rest for cooking. If you don't have enough, just freeze them.
I would slice them up how you would for cooking, so that they are ready to go. You can throw them right into the pan frozen, they will heat up fast.
☝️ How to Revive
Want to still try to eat them raw? If you want to try to revive the peppers that are wrinkly or looking limp you can try putting them into a bowl of water with ice for about 10 minutes or so.
When I worked at an organic grocery store we cut off the ends of greens like kale or romaine and then dunk them into cold water. Then they go into the cooler right away. This helped to crisp them up and made them appear more appealing to the customer. The same concept can work for sliced peppers.
⚫ What If Black Inside?
Sometimes you will open up the pepper and find that is it black inside. This is usually the seeds have gone bad. If the rest of the pepper looks fine and you don't see any mold, then remove the seeds and cut the pepper up to use as normal.
You see any mold, anywhere on the pepper that I would caution to throw it out. Use your best judgment.
🟤 Brown Spots
Sometimes you may see peppers developing brown spots. This is more observed with a pepper still growing on the plant. Usually these peppers don't make it into stores, but if they do it's often a nutritional issue with the plant or the work of bugs. Discard the brown areas and still eat.
🐌 Slimy or Soggy
If a pepper is feeling slimy on the outside, I would be hesitate to save them. If you wash them off and they feel normal still, then go ahead and use them, but if they are slimy that they are getting mushy, it's time to toss them.
When peppers really go, they become soggy and deflate. That's a point of no return.
📅 How Long Do They Last?
What's the shelf life of a pepper? After you buy them from the store, you might get a week or two out of them before wrinkling starts to happen. It really depends on how fresh they were at the store to begin with. Ones I have grown myself lasted for several weeks in the fridge without any blemish.
In my experience the smaller, sweet snacking peppers that have become popular can last longer in the fridge without wrinkling.
If you cut the peppers, you need to use them up or freeze them within 3 days or quality will begin to diminish.
🌈 Changing Colors
Green bell peppers tend to last longer than peppers of other colors. Why? Because peppers change color. If the skin of pepper is green it could turn other colors, although it's not a guarantee. Many peppers start out green on the vine before turning.
It's possible that you can buy a green pepper that is actually a red pepper that was picked unripe. I believe this is why green bell peppers seem to last longer than other colors.
Don't use color alone as a determining factor in if you are going to keep or toss a pepper.
🗑️ More Toss or Keep
Check out more posts in our Toss or Keep series.
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