Dried chili peppers belong in a well-stocked spice cabinet. They are versatile and add a pinch of spice to any dish no matter what the cuisine. You may ask how long dried chili peppers can be stored before they go bad. It sounds like a simple and logical question. However, the answer isn’t quite as clear-cut. It depends on what form the chili peppers were in when they were dried. Here’s everything you need to know about storing Dried Chili Peppers.
Do Dried Chili Peppers Go Bad?
Almost every food has a shelf-life. They display an expiration date or a “best by” date. But spices and dried chilies don’t expire like a bottle of milk does. They don’t start rotting or looking moldy like your fresh produce does. Dried peppers don’t “go bad” like many other foods, but they can be not quite as good as they were.
Dried chili peppers have a shelf-life. What does that really mean? Shelf life for all types of dried peppers means the length of time that they remain the most aromatic and flavorful to use in cooking. Most dried seasonings like dried peppers last between one and two years.
- 3-4 Years: Whole dried chili peppers and peppercorns
- 2–4 Years: Ground peppers including various types of chili powder and paprika
- 2–3 Years: Crushed pepper flakes
Whole dried chili peppers and unground peppercorns have the longest shelf life. They can last up to four years. Why is that? Because less of their surface area is exposed to moisture, light, and air. They retain their natural oils and flavor compound longer than crushed or ground peppers.
How Would I Know If My Dried Peppers Were Bad?
Dried chili peppers, ground peppers, and crushed peppers don’t exactly expire or go bad. When dried peppers have gone bad, it means they lost their flavor, color, and potency. It’s not likely to make you sick if you consume any kind of dried pepper that’s expired. However, you will miss out on the fullness of their flavors.
If you are not sure how long you have had your dried peppers, there is a way to tell if they still have their flavor. To check a dried chili pepper, crush a small amount in your palm. If you notice the aroma is weak, the flavor is likely missing too. When the flavor and scent have died out, it’s time to replace them.
Storing Dried Chili Peppers: How Do I Do It to Maximize Their Shelf Life?
The key to maximizing the shelf life of all your spices is to minimize exposure to light, heat, air, and moisture. Here are a few tips for storing your dried peppers.
- Keep your dried chili peppers, pepper flakes, and ground peppers in tightly-sealed non-porous containers. Glass or ceramic are the best options. They are easy to clean and keep moisture and air out. Plastic is good too, but they are not quite as airtight, and they are more difficult to clean for reuse.
- Stainless steel and tin containers work well too. However, these containers must be stored far away from your cookstove. Metal is conductive and heat is not good for dried peppers.
- Refrigeration is not necessary. However red-colored spices like cayenne pepper and paprika retain their pigment longer in a colder environment.
- Moisture degrades the flavor and texture of dried peppers and they can mold. If mold occurs, discard the entire container.
- Keep your dried chili peppers and powders dry by using a spoon to remove them from the container. Sprinkling them into hot foods straight from the container can expose the peppers to moisture.
Tips for Organizing Peppers and Other Spices
If you use a lot of spices like dried peppers, crushed peppers, or chili powders, you want them handy when you are cooking. They need to be within reach so you can grab them and easily add them to your dishes. Here are some tips for how to organize them so they are convenient when you want them.
Tip 1: Try a Wall Shelf for all Your Spices
Mount the wall shelf away from the stove and out of direct sunlight. The convenience of a wall shelf is that your dried peppers and other spices are in plain view and easy to use. Remember that they will last longer in a dark cabinet than out in the open. However, you are more likely to use them more often so shelf-like may not be an issue at all.
Tip 2: Mark the Date
Use a sharpie, or permanent marker to write the date you open the jar of dried chili peppers. You can write it on the lid or the bottle so you will know exactly when it was opened.
Tip 3: Don’t Store Dried Peppers on Top of the Stove
Repeated exposure to heat is an enemy of dried peppers whether they are whole, crushed, or powder. The ledge on the top of your stove or a shelf too close to the stove can expose them to heat over and over. It will sap them of their flavor.
Enjoy Your Dried Chili Peppers Longer
You use dried chili peppers because they had flavor variety and spice to your meals. In general, they have pretty long shelf lives. However, this varies with the way the peppers were processed and how they are stored. Learning how storing dried chili peppers works and storing them away from heat, air, moisture, and light will preserve them for the longest time so you can enjoy them to the fullest!