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How Long do Carolina Reapers Stay Fresh and How to Store Them

Carolina Reaper peppers are lava red in color, medium in size, and have a wrinkled, blistered, gnarled, glossy appearance. Carolina Reapers look like a pepper that can melt your face right off and they sure can. They are the hottest pepper in the world with Scoville units measuring between 1.6 million and 2.2 million, verified by Guinness World Records.

Carolina Reapers have a sweet, fruity flavor which all but lasts a few seconds before being replaced by the feeling of hot magma igniting your entire mouth and throat on fire.

Carolina Reapers are also known as HP22B peppers. The pepper was created by Ed Currie in South Carolina by crossing a La Soufriere pepper from St. Vincent and a Naga Viper pepper from Pakistan.

How long do fresh Carolina Reaper peppers last?

Fresh Carolina Reaper peppers, when stored at room temperature or in a pantry, have a shelf life of around 3 to 5 days. When Carolina Reapers are stored in a fridge, their shelf life is extended to 2 – 3 weeks. When stored in a freezer, you can extend a Carolina Reaper’s shelf life to 4 – 6 months.

Carolina Reaper peppers will eventually expire, but the length of freshness can be extended, depending on the storage method used. For the longest shelf life before expiration you can either freeze the peppers whole, which will make them last around 4 to 6 months, or dry the peppers and grind them in a spice mill to extend the shelf life to 3 to 4 years.

See below for a table on the shelf life of Carolina peppers in different forms, based on storage method:

 Pantry (room temperature)FridgeFreezer
Whole Carolina Reaper3 – 5 days2 – 3 weeks4 – 6 months
Sliced Carolina Reaper2 hours3 – 4 days4 – 6 months
Chopped Carolina Reaper2 hours3 – 4 days4 – 6 months
Cooked Carolina Reaper2 hours3 – 4 days4 – 6 months
Roasted Carolina Reaper2 hours3 – 4 days4 – 6 months
Ground Carolina Reaper Powder3 – 4 years

I used to store my peppers in the fridge using single use zip lock bag. I would feel so guilty about throwing them out but they weren’t durable enough to reuse. I have since found these reusable freezer safe storage bags which are far better for the environment and work just as well. Click the link to check the current price on Amazon.

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How to store Carolina Reaper peppers in the fridge to lengthen their freshness and flavor

The best way to maximize the shelf life of Carolina Reaper peppers, while at the same time not compromising their freshness or flavor, is to refrigerate them. See below for an easy three-step guide on how to refrigerate Carolina Reaper peppers:

1. Dry and clean off the peppers

Dry your Carolina Reapers with a paper towel before storing them. Even if they are not wet, you should still wipe them down with a paper towel to remove any dirt or dust before storing them. Since Carolina Reapers are gnarled with deep wrinkles you can use a clean, soft bristled toothbrush to gently clean out the crevasses, if needed.

2. Place the peppers in a sealable plastic bag

Once the Carolina Reaper peppers are dried, open a plastic bag, and put them inside and seal or tie off the plastic bag. The sealed plastic bag will limit the humidity in the peppers’ environment which helps maintain the freshness of the Carolina Reapers.

3. Place the peppers in the fridge’s crisper drawer

Place the Carolina Reapers near the front part of the crisper drawer because it is a little warmer in temperature than the middle or rear part of the drawer. Carolina Reapers, like many hot peppers, are sensitive to the cold, so not exposing them to extremely cold temperatures is especially important.

Pro tip: Do not let your Carolina Reaper pepper pod touch any of the cold surfaces inside your fridge. If the Carolina Reaper pepper’s skin brushes against a very cold surface, it can develop cold spots, which are not only unsightly but do not taste good.

How to store Carolina Reaper peppers in the freezer to lengthen freshness and flavor

1. Wash your Carolina Reaper peppers thoroughly to remove any excess dirt and debris

Pre-washing your Carolina Reaper peppers before storing them is also helpful because they can be used immediately after removing them from the freezer without having to clean them again. Sometimes rewashing peppers that have been frozen causes them to become excessively soft and mushy.

2. After washing the Carolina Reaper peppers, dry them until they are completely dry

We recommend wiping them down with paper towels and then letting them air dry for an hour to ensure they are completely dry. This is especially important for Carolina Reapers because moisture can get stuck in the pepper’s crevasses.

3. Open a large freezer safe Ziplock bag or freezer safe container and fill it with the peppers

Once the bag is filled, squeeze out as much air as possible and seal the freezer-safe bag tightly. If you are like me and are trying to use alternatives to plastics I recommend these large glass freezer-safe containers which can be found on amazon.

4. Place the peppers in the freezer

Place your Carolina Reapers inside your freezer and keep them there until you are ready to use them.

For maximum freshness, use your frozen Carolina Reaper peppers within six months after freezing. Carolina Reapers, when frozen, can be consumed even if they have been frozen for more than six months but they are at greater risk of developing unappetizing freezer burn and losing their heat.

How to tell when Carolina Reaper peppers are going bad

When Carolina Reaper peppers start going bad, like all peppers, they start to show some key characteristics. Below are some of the signs that indicate that your Carolina Reaper peppers could be going bad:

Excessive wrinkled and/or shriveled skin

Carolina Reapers naturally have a shriveled, wrinkled appearance. The peppers are still good even if they start wrinkling a little bit more than expected. The wrinkling just means the Carolina Reapers are starting to dry out a little. But when the wrinkling becomes excessive, that indicates that the Carolina Reaper is losing a bit too much moisture. Instead of a firm and crisp texture, the Carolina Reaper will have a soft and squishy texture.

Soft surface spots

When touching the Carolina Reaper pepper, if you notice spots on the pepper pod’s surface which feel soft or give in when put under a bit of pressure from your finger or thumb, throw out the pepper. These excessively soft sections in peppers are a common early sign of rot.

Fuzzy mold

Fuzzy or furry looking patches on Carolina Reapers, which are usually found near the stem, are a common form of mold that often develops on fruits and vegetables and is a sign that the produce is going bad.

Dark or brown spots

Dark specks or brown and black spots, which often look like dirt but cannot be wiped away, is an indication that the Carolina Reaper has a disease and is starting to spoil and is inedible.

Lack of spice or heat

If you dare to take a bite of the raw Carolina Reaper pepper (which we do not recommend doing, since these peppers are crazy hot!) and notice reduced spice or heat, this means the pepper is getting old. Even as a Carolina Reapers gets old and loses some of its heat, they are still wicked hot.

What happens if you eat a Carolina Reaper pepper that has gone bad?

If you eat a Carolina Reaper that has gone bad, you will most likely be fine, but try not to eat spoiled fruits and vegetables.

Eating spoiled Carolina Reapers probably will not make you sick, but they will taste disgusting. If the Carolina Reaper pepper you consumed had mold, do not panic, the mold that commonly grows on spoiling produce is usually harmless.

Some folks have mold allergies and mold growing on Carolina Reaper peppers can cause an unpleasant allergic reaction. So, it is best to dispose of the pepper in the garbage or compost heap if you notice any mold growing, instead of cutting out the moldy parts.