We eat a lot of chiles in our house. As a New Mexico native, chiles are simply an essential part of my diet. Even though I'm a midwesterner now, I've never let go of my chile-loving roots.
In fact, my favorite gift ever from home was when I received an express shipment of freshly roasted Hatch green chiles. In late summer, big roasters are set up in the parking lots of many grocery stores in New Mexico. Everyone in my home town lines up to stock up on freshly roasted Hatch green chiles. It smells amazing. One year, my dad & step-mom froze a bunch in ziptop bags, packed them in a cooler, and overnighted these chiles to me in St. Louis. I did a happy dance when I opened the box. My freezer was stocked with the tastiest chiles in the world. BEST GIFT EVER.
That was my first experience with frozen chiles. They thawed and maintained their flavor and texture surprisingly well.
I was inspired to start growing, roasting, peeling, and freezing my own chiles to last throughout the year. I've experimented with different methods, and it turns out that there are several ways that produce successful results. Which method you choose depends on how you expect to use the chiles. So, I'll describe several options. I normally freeze Anaheim or Hatch green chiles because that's what most of the common canned brands use, so they work well in recipes.
If you don't garden, fresh chiles are often available at farmer's markets and grocery stores. Buy them fresh while they're in season, follow my simple instructions, and you'll be able to enjoy your own flavorful chiles throughout the year. You can say ADIOS to those cans!
WEAR PLASTIC GLOVES when you're working with chiles. The hot residue is difficult to wash off of your hands. If you accidentally touch your face or eyes, you may feel a very unpleasant burning sensation. Even seemingly mild chiles can pack more heat than you may think.
Here are my tested and recommended methods for freezing chiles.
That's right. You can pick them right off of the plant (or bring them home from the market), wash and dry them, and put the chiles in a freezer ziptop bag. That way you can pull 1 or more chiles out of the freezer whenever you need them. The chiles will loose their firm texture when they're frozen raw, but their flavor is unchanged.
This is definitely the easiest freezing method. You can use these chiles when texture doesn't matter; for example, thaw these to dice and add to a pot of chile or other cooked recipes. However, I wouldn't recommend them for use in a fresh salsa like Pico de Gallo. The chiles pictures below were a 2nd crop of Anaheims and jalapenos I had in my garden at the end of the summer last year. I'd already done all of my salsa making and canning, so I threw these in a bag in my freezer and have used them throughout the year. They are starting to get a little bit frosty, but they're still good to use. I've been amazed at how well they've held up after 11 months in the freezer.
I have a separate post with a step-by-step tutorial on how to roast and peel chile peppers. So, check that out if you don't know how.
After roasting them, let them cool and place the chiles in a single layer in a ziptop freezer bag. (This is how my gift box of Hatch chiles were frozen.) You can remove 1 or more at a time from the freezer as you need them. Peel them before freezing them if you like, although it's fine to leave the peel on and remove it after they're thawed. Either way they get peeled, it's just a matter of when.
view on Amazon: quart freezer Ziploc bags
The photos below illustrate how I prepare most of my Anaheim and Hatch chiles. These are the kinds of chiles used in a typical can of green chiles and are commonly called for in recipes.
This size of mason jar is freezer safe and exactly the same size as canned green chiles. That makes them perfect for freezing chopped chiles. I like to use these white plastic lids on my jars; they're durable, dishwasher safe, and easy to screw off and on. Mine are labeled with a Sharpie marker and blue painters tape--it works great and can be removed easily without leaving behind a sticky residue.
If you have limited freezer space, these are great because they are stackable, snap together so they don't tip over, and have a small footprint. You can squeeze a stack of these into the corner of your freezer without taking up much space at all.
View on Amazon: stackable plastic containers
Whichever method you choose, it's great to have chiles roasted and ready in your freezer. Here are a few of my recipes that use green chiles:
Make it a Yummy day!