Ghost peppers are fiery red in color, medium in size, and have a wrinkled, blistered, glossy appearance. They are extremely hot peppers: like ‘in the top 20 hottest peppers in the world’ hot. Ghost peppers taste a little sweet and a bit fruity but a few seconds after the initial flavors set in, all you will taste is searing hot pain.
Also known as the bhut jolokia (which means ghost pepper in Assamese) or naga jolokia, this pepper originates from the states of Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur in India. Unsurprisingly, this makes it a bit difficult to find in grocery stores here in the U.S. That’s why, if and when you finally get your hands on some, you want to make sure you store them correctly, so that they last long and still taste fresh and spicy!
How long do fresh Ghost peppers last?
Fresh Ghost peppers, when stored at room temperature or in a pantry, have a shelf life of around 3 to 5 days. When Ghost peppers are stored in a fridge, their shelf life is extended to 2 – 3 weeks. When stored in a freezer, you can extend a Ghost pepper’s shelf life to 4 – 6 months.
See below for a table on the shelf life of Ghost peppers in different forms, based on storage method:
|Pantry (room temperature)||Fridge||Freezer|
|Whole Ghost Pepper||3 – 5 days||2 – 3 weeks||4 – 6 months|
|Sliced Ghost Pepper||2 hours||3 – 4 days||4 – 6 months|
|Chopped Ghost Pepper||2 hours||3 – 4 days||4 – 6 months|
|Cooked Ghost Pepper||2 hours||3 – 4 days||4 – 6 months|
|Roasted Ghost Pepper||2 hours||3 – 4 days||4 – 6 months|
|Ground Ghost Pepper Powder||3 – 4 years|
How to store Ghost peppers in the fridge to lengthen their freshness and flavor
A great way to maximize the shelf life of Ghost peppers, while at the same time maintaining freshness and flavor, is to follow these steps:
- Dry your Ghost peppers with a paper towel before storing them. Sometimes peppers are wet from produce aisle misters when bought at a grocery store. If they are not wet, you should still wipe them down with a paper towel to remove dust and dirt before storing them.
- Once the Ghost 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 Ghost peppers.
- Place the Ghost peppers in the fridge’s crisper drawer. Place the peppers near the front of the crisper drawer because it is slightly warmer in temperature than the middle or rear of the drawer. Ghost peppers are sensitive to the cold, so this is especially important.
Pro tip: avoid letting your Ghost peppers pod wall touch any cold surfaces in your fridge. If the Ghost pepper’s skin touches a very cold surface, it will develop cold spots, which are unsightly and do not taste good.
How to store Ghost peppers in the freezer to lengthen freshness and flavor
- Wash your Ghost peppers thoroughly to remove any excess dirt and debris. Pre-washing your Ghost peppers before storing them is also helpful because they can be used immediately after removing from the freezer without having to clean them again.
- After washing the Ghost 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.
- Once the Ghost peppers are dry, open a large freezer safe Ziplock bag and fill it with the Ghost peppers. Once the bag is filled, place it in your freezer and leave them there until you are ready to use.
For maximum freshness, use your frozen Ghost peppers within six months after freezing. They are still safe to consume if stored for longer than six months, but they are at greater risk of developing unappetizing freezer burn and losing their heat.
How to tell when Ghost peppers are going bad
When Ghost peppers start spoiling and going bad, they show some key characteristics. Below are some common signs that indicate that your Ghost peppers could be going bad:
- Excessive wrinkled and/or shriveled skin – Ghost peppers are still good even if they shrivel a little bit. The wrinkling just means they are starting to dry out. But when the wrinkling becomes excessive, that indicates that the Ghost pepper is losing a bit too much moisture. Instead of a firm and crisp texture, the Ghost pepper will have a softer and squishy texture.
- Soft surface spots – When feeling and touching the Ghost pepper, if you notice spots on its surface that feel extra soft or give in under a bit of pressure, throw out the pepper. These soft sections are an early sign of rot.
- Fuzzy mold – Fuzzy or furry looking patches on Ghost peppers, especially near the stem, are a common form of mold that often develops on produce.
- Dark or brown spots – Dark speckled or brown spots, which sometimes look like dirt but cannot be wiped away, is an indication that the Ghost pepper is diseased and is starting to spoil.
- Lack of spice or heat – If you dare to take a bite of the raw Ghost pepper and notice reduced spice or heat, it means the pepper is getting old. Fresh Ghost peppers are crazy spicy and should make your mouth burn and water.
What happens if you eat a Ghost pepper that has gone bad?
If you eat a Ghost pepper that has gone bad, you will probably be fine, but try not to eat spoiled produce. Eating spoiled Ghost peppers probably will not make you sick, but they will taste gross. If the Ghost pepper you consumed had mold, the mold that commonly grows on spoiling produce is usually harmless to consume, so do not panic.
Some people have mold allergies and mold growing on Ghost peppers can cause an allergic reaction. So, it is best to dispose of the pepper in the trash or compost heap if you notice any mold growing, instead of cutting out the moldy parts.