Serrano peppers are bright green or sports car red in color, medium in size, and have a smooth, long, and glossy appearance. Serrano peppers are often used raw in salsas and pico de gallo. They are hotter than Jalapeños with Scoville units measuring between 10,000 and 23,000.
Serranos have a fresh, crisp, Jalapeño-like flavor and their heat is intense, but not to the level where you will be reaching for the water pitcher to drown it out.
Serrano peppers originated in the Sierras mountains of Puebla and Hidalgo in Mexico. It also gets its name from these mountains. Serrano peppers are the second most used chili pepper in Mexican food.
How long do fresh Serrano peppers last?
Fresh Serrano peppers, when stored at room temperature or in a pantry, have a shelf life of around 3 to 5 days. When Serrano peppers are stored in a fridge, their shelf life is extended to 1 – 2 weeks. When stored in a freezer, you can extend a Serrano’s shelf life to 4 – 6 months.
Serrano peppers will eventually expire, but the shelf life can be extended, depending on the storage method. For the longest shelf life before expiration, try freezing 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.
Below is a table on the shelf life of Serrano peppers in different forms, based on storage method:
|Pantry (room temperature)||Fridge||Freezer|
|Whole Serrano||3 – 5 days||1 – 2 weeks||4 – 6 months|
|Sliced Serrano||2 hours||2 – 3 days||4 – 6 months|
|Chopped Serrano||2 hours||2 – 3 days||4 – 6 months|
|Cooked Serrano||2 hours||2 – 3 days||4 – 6 months|
|Roasted Serrano||2 hours||2 – 3 days||4 – 6 months|
|Ground Serrano Powder||3 – 4 years|
How to store Serrano peppers in the fridge to lengthen their freshness and flavor
The best way to maximize the shelf life of Serrano 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 Serrano peppers:
Dry and clean off the peppers
Dry your Serrano peppers 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 Serrano peppers are smooth and long, wiping them down is relatively easy.
Place the Serrano peppers in a sealable plastic bag
Once the Serrano peppers are dried, open a plastic bag, and place them inside and seal or tie off the plastic bag. The sealed plastic bag will limit the humidity in the Serrano peppers’ environment which helps maintain their freshness.
Place the Serrano peppers in the fridge’s crisper drawer
Place the Serrano peppers 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. Serrano peppers, like many chili peppers, are sensitive to the cold, so it is especially important to not expose them to extremely cold temperatures.
Pro tip: Do not let your Serrano pepper pod touch any of the cold surfaces inside your fridge. If the Serrano 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 Serrano peppers in the freezer to lengthen freshness and heat
Wash your Serrano peppers thoroughly to remove any excess dirt and debris
Pre-washing your Serrano peppers before storing them is helpful because they can be used immediately after removing them from the freezer, without having to clean them again. Sometimes rewashing peppers that were previously frozen causes them to become excessively soft and mushy.
Dry them with a paper towel 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 because any wet spots when frozen will led to freezer burns on your Serrano peppers.
Open a large freezer safe plastic bag or 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.
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Place the peppers in the freezer
Place your Serrano peppers inside your freezer and keep them there until you are ready to use them.
For maximum freshness, use your frozen Serrano peppers within six months after freezing. Serrano peppers, when frozen, can be consumed even if they have been in the freezer for more than six months but they are at greater risk of developing unappetizing freezer burn and losing their heat.
How to tell when Serrano peppers are going bad
Like all peppers, when Serrano peppers start going bad they start to show some key characteristics of spoilage. Below are some of the signs that indicate that your Serrano peppers could be going bad:
Excessive wrinkled and/or shriveled skin
Wrinkling usually means the Serrano peppers are starting to dry out a little. But when the wrinkling becomes excessive, that indicates that the peppers are losing a bit too much moisture. Instead of a firm and crisp texture, the Serrano pepper will have a soft and squishy texture.
Soft surface spots
When touching the Serrano pepper, if you notice spots on the pepper pod’s surface which feel soft or gives 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 or furry looking patches on Serrano peppers, 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 Serrano pepper has a disease and is starting to spoil and is inedible.
Lack of spice or heat
If you do not see any physical signs of spoilage, you can try tasting it to check to see if it is still fresh. If you take a bite of the raw Serrano pepper and notice reduced spice or heat, this means the pepper is getting old.
What happens if you eat a Serrano pepper that has gone bad?
If you eat a Serrano pepper that has gone bad, you will most likely be fine, but it is best not to eat spoiled fruits and vegetables.
Eating a spoiled Serrano pepper probably will not make you sick, but it will probably not taste great. If the Serrano 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 Serrano 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.