The Ultimate Guide to Storing Dried Chiles

Usually, you only need to store dried chili peppers (like chipotle, ancho, or another type) if you have a lot more than you can use in a few months. It is true that drying peppers makes them last longer because they don’t go bad as quickly, but if you don’t store them properly, they can still lose their flavor. If you do store them with the right methods and in the right environment, they can last indefinitely. To get the most use out of your peppers for as long as possible, here are some tips.

Dried chiles are a pantry staple for many home cooks. Their intense, fruity heat can transform the flavor of soups, stews, salsas, and more. However, improper storage can lead to mold, premature spoilage, and loss of flavor. Follow this guide to learn the best practices for storing dried chiles to keep them fresh and vibrant.

Why Proper Storage Matters

Dried chiles are susceptible to humidity and moisture. If stored improperly, they can quickly develop mold, get soggy, or become stale Proper storage is key to preserving their signature flavor, heat, and aroma. It also prevents waste, saving you money

By keeping your dried chiles in a cool, dark space in an airtight container, you can extend their shelf life from several months to over a year. With the right storage methods, you can keep a stash of dried chiles on hand to spice up meals anytime.

The Best Storage Containers for Dried Chiles

The first step is choosing the right storage vessel The best containers for dried chiles are airtight and block light Recommended options include

  • Glass jars – Classics like Mason jars create an impenetrable seal that locks in freshness Their transparency allows you to view contents easily

  • Opaque plastic containers – Durable plastic bins with tight lids block moisture and light ideal for storage. Popular brands are Rubbermaid and Lock & Lock.

  • Mylar bags – Mylar bags are impermeable to create a strong barrier. You can squeeze out excess air before sealing.

  • Vacuum sealed bags – Vacuum sealing removes oxygen to prevent oxidation and stall moisture absorption.

  • Storage canisters – Locking canisters with rubber gaskets seal in freshness effectively while looking great on the countertop.

No matter which container you choose, ensure it closes tightly. The airtight seal is key to preventing humidity and extending shelf life.

Storing Dried Chiles in a Cool, Dry Place

Once you have an airtight container, the next factor is finding the ideal storage location. Dried chiles do best in a cool, dry spot away from light. Recommended storage places include:

  • The pantry – A dark kitchen pantry is ideal, as it’s easily accessible when cooking.

  • Cabinets – Inside cabinets works well if your kitchen lacks a pantry.

  • Cellars or basements – These spaces tend to be cooler and drier, which helps preservation.

  • Non-climate controlled areas – Attics, garages, and sheds can work if cooled properly in summer and heated in winter.

Avoid storing chiles anywhere with excess moisture or humidity, like above the stove or near a sink. The ideal conditions are below 75°F with a relative humidity around 60-65%. Getting close to this helps maximize freshness.

Storing Different Types of Dried Chiles

Not all dried chiles have the same properties. Here are some tips for storing common varieties:

  • Ancho and mulato chiles – Their thin skins are prone to moisture damage. Store in opaque airtight containers away from light.

  • Chipotle chiles – Wood-smoking gives them a lower moisture content. Store in breathable bags or jars.

  • Arbol, pequin and bird’s eye chiles – Their smaller size makes them apt to lose moisture. Vacuum sealing or Mylar bags work best.

  • Guajillo and pasilla chiles – Their thicker flesh retains moisture well. Store loose in jars or bags.

  • Whole pods vs. crushed – Crushed chiles lose flavor and aroma faster. Store whole when possible, and crush as needed.

  • Chile flakes and powders – Prone to clumping when exposed to moisture. Use sealed bags and shake well before use.

Follow any special storage guidance from the manufacturer or vendor for best results. Certain varieties may have unique storage requirements.

Storing Dried Chiles Safely With Other Foods

Storing dried chiles alongside other pantry staples requires some care. Here are tips for safe, effective co-storage:

  • Keep away from high moisture foods like onions, garlic, potatoes, and mushrooms to avoid sogginess.

  • Store out of reach of pets, children, and pests. The spices can cause gastrointestinal issues if ingested in large amounts.

  • Avoid proximity to natural fats and oils. Dried chiles can absorb organoleptic compounds that alter flavor.

  • Store out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources like the oven or fridge exhaust.

  • Transfer chiles to smaller containers for sharing space efficiently. Large bins of chiles can overwhelm companion foods.

  • Clean containers thoroughly between replenishing. Avoid cross-contamination with food allergens.

With some care, dried chiles can safely share shelf space with herbs, spices, grains, and more. Just be mindful of potential moisture transfer, aroma absorption, and contamination.

How to Tell If Dried Chiles Are Still Good

To test if your dried chiles are past their prime:

  • Inspect visually – Look for mold, excessive moisture, and other damage. Discard any compromised chiles.

  • Take a whiff – Dried chiles should still smell vibrant and fragrant. Musty, stale chiles should be discarded.

  • Rub between your fingers – Brittle, crumbling texture means the chiles are overly dry and past their prime.

  • Taste test – Rehydrate and taste a small piece. Fresh chiles will still have a bright, robust flavor.

  • Check the expiration or best-by date – This can provide guidance on when deterioration may begin.

With the proper storage methods, dried chiles can retain optimal quality for over a year past any best-by date. If you notice any signs of spoilage, it’s best to throw them out and start fresh.

Reviving and Using Stale Dried Chiles

If your chiles are a little stale but not fully spoiled, there are some reviving techniques to try:

  • Rehydrate in hot water or broth – The liquid may redistribute moisture for improved texture.

  • Roast briefly – A few minutes in a hot oven or pan can brighten up flavor.

  • Grind into powder or flakes – Grinding masks textures and blends flavors.

  • Infuse in oil – Steeping stale chiles in warmed oil extracts compounds.

  • Simmer in sauces or stews – Slow braising coaxes out moisture and flavor.

While revived chiles won’t be as vibrant as fresh ones, these tricks make stale chiles usable. Really old, severely dried out chiles are likely past saving and best discarded though.

Getting the Most out of Your Dried Chiles

Follow this advice to make your dried chiles last:

  • Buy in bulk and divide – Large bags are economical, but repack into smaller batches for less air exposure.

  • Minimize openings – Limit air flow in by keeping containers closed when not in use.

  • Use older chiles first – Practice first in, first out for optimum freshness.

  • Portion for recipes – Only take out what you need as you go to avoid contamination.

  • Shop from reputable sellers – Higher turnover means you get the freshest dried chiles.

With the right storage setup and habits, you can maximize dried chile lifespan and quality. A good stash of dried chiles can take your cooking to the next level.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do dried chiles last?

Stored properly in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, dried chiles can last 1-2 years. Whole pods maintain quality longer than crushed or ground.

What temperature should I store dried chiles at?

Ideally below 75°F for best preservation, but they can withstand temps up to 85°F if needed. Avoid temperature swings.

Can I freeze dried chiles?

Freezing is not recommended. The moisture of the freezer can cause condensation issues and ruin the chiles. Refrigeration is also not advised.

Is it okay to store chiles in plastic bags?

Thicker plastic bags can work for short term storage if sealed tightly. For long term storage, rigid containers are best to prevent accidental tearing.

How can I revive stale dried chiles?

Try rehydrating in hot water or oil, roasting briefly, grinding into flakes/powder, or simmering in sauces. Severely dried out chiles may be beyond reviving though.

What’s the best way to store chile powder?

Chile powder is prone to clumping from moisture. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry spot and shake or sift before use.

Can I store multiple types of dried chiles together?

Yes, provided you separate the varieties into clearly marked bags or containers so you can tell them apart and account for any unique storage needs.

With the tips in this guide, you can master the art of storing dried chiles. Proper storage helps dried chiles retain their signature flavor and heat far longer. So stock up on a range of dried chiles to keep your cooking full of southwestern and Asian flair.

Keep dried chilies away from light

Airtight containers are not enough since dried chilies also degrade quickly in the light. If you keep chilies somewhere bright, like in a clear container on the counter, the bright colors will fade to a dull gray. Ensure that your airtight container is either opaque or that you store it in a dark place.

Store in an airtight container

You will often see it recommended that dry herbs and spices be stored in airtight containers. This is as true for dried peppers as it is for cumin or basil. The reason is that an airtight container keeps the herb or spice from losing the compounds responsible for its flavor. If you were to store dried chili peppers in a porous container where air could circulate freely, it would be less hot and less flavorful by the time you got around to using it. The longer it is stored like that, the more flavor it will lose. Store Your Dried Chilies Well

Ceramic storage containers with airtight lids are among the best ways to store dried peppers. They keep direct sunlight away from the chilies, while also keeping moisture out of the picture.

Along with helping to keep your peppers flavorful, an airtight container will also help the texture. If you want to use dried pepper, it needs to still be somewhat soft. You want it to be leathery, not hard. It should soften completely when rehydrated. When hot peppers are stored outside or in containers with lots of holes, they can get so dry and hard that they are almost impossible to rehydrate. These peppers will remain hard even after lengthy soaking.

An airtight container will also keep your dried chilies away from moisture. Moisture will get absorbed by the pepper so that it becomes partially rehydrated. Even partial rehydration can eliminate the advantages of drying the peppers in the first place. Partially rehydrated peppers can develop mold and eventually spoil, just like fresh peppers.

Mason jars and resealable plastic bags are two of the best airtight containers you can use, but you need to be careful about light exposure.

How To Store Dried Chiles – Tips On How To Preserve Dried Chiles

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