How to Preserve and Store Green Chili in Colorado: A Complete Guide

How to Preserve and Store Green Chili in Colorado?

Green chili is a beloved staple in Colorado cuisine, adding a distinctive flavor to many local dishes. Preserving this flavorful ingredient allows you to enjoy it year-round, long after the harvest season has ended. This guide will explore various methods to preserve and store green chili in Colorado’s unique climate, ensuring you always have this versatile ingredient on hand.

1. Selecting and Preparing Green Chilies

When choosing green chilies for preservation:

  • Select firm, bright green chilies without blemishes
  • Wash thoroughly, soaking in vinegar water to remove dirt and potential contaminants
  • Remove stems and seeds (optional)
  • For enhanced flavor, consider roasting chilies before preservation

Safety tip: Wear gloves when handling hot chilies to protect your skin from capsaicin.

2. Freezing Methods

Freezing is one of the most popular and effective methods for preserving green chili. Here are three freezing techniques:a) Whole Chilies:

  1. Wash and dry chilies thoroughly
  2. Place in freezer-safe bags, removing as much air as possible
  3. Label with date and freeze for up to 6-12 months

b) Chili Paste:

  1. Blend chilies into a paste
  2. Freeze in ice cube trays
  3. Once frozen, transfer cubes to freezer bags

c) Diced Chilies:

  1. Coarsely dice chilies
  2. Freeze in measured portions using a greased measuring cup
  3. Store these convenient “pucks” in freezer bags

For all freezing methods, label bags with the date and use within 6-12 months for best quality.

3. Pressure Canning

Pressure canning is a safe method for preserving low-acid foods like green chili:

  1. Follow a tested recipe from a reputable source like Utah State University Extension
  2. Use new lids and rust-free bands
  3. Process at 15 pounds of pressure in Colorado due to high elevation
  4. Store sealed jars without bands in a cool, dark place

Pressure canning allows you to preserve green chilies without taking up freezer space.

4. Drying Green Chilies

Drying is an excellent option for long-term storage:

  1. Clean and slice chilies
  2. Use a food dehydrator or oven on lowest setting
  3. Dry until crisp (12-24 hours)
  4. Store in airtight containers in a cool, dark place

Dried chilies can be rehydrated or ground into powder for various culinary uses.

4. Short-Term Refrigerator Storage

For chilies you plan to use within a few weeks:

  1. Wrap in paper towels and place in a perforated plastic bag
  2. Store in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer for up to 2 weeks

This method is ideal for fresh chilies you’ll use in the near future.

5. Using Preserved Green Chilies

Preserved green chili can be used in various dishes:

  • Green chili stew
  • Enchiladas
  • Breakfast burritos
  • Chili verde

When using frozen chilies, thaw overnight in the refrigerator or run under cool water for immediate use.

6. Colorado Green Chili Varieties

Colorado is known for its diverse green chili offerings:

  • Some serve it as a chunky soup with pork
  • Others offer it as a sauce for dipping or smothering
  • Hatch chilies, popular in Colorado, come in different heat levels

Experiment with various types to find your favorite for preservation.

How can I tell if my green chilies are no longer good?

  1. Mold: If you see any white, brown, or green mold on the exterior or interior of the chili, it should be discarded immediately.
  2. Soft spots or wrinkly skin: While a little wrinkling doesn’t necessarily mean the chili is bad, it’s a sign that it’s aging. Chilies that are wrinkly all over and feel mushy should be thrown out.
  3. Sliminess: A small amount of sliminess on the exterior that washes away easily might be okay, but if the chili is slimy and very wrinkly, it’s best to discard it.
  4. Discoloration: If you notice black or brown spots on the interior or exterior of the chili, it’s too old to eat.
  5. Smell: If the chili has a strong, acrid, or unpleasant odor, it should not be consumed.
  6. Loss of firmness: Fresh chilies should be firm. If they’ve become soft or mushy, they’re likely past their prime.
  7. Time: For roasted green chilies, they typically need to be used within a week when refrigerated. If you’ve opened a jar of roasted green chilies, they should be used within 7 days after opening, even if refrigerated.

Remember, when in doubt, it’s better to err on the side of caution and discard chilies that show signs of spoilage to avoid any potential foodborne illnesses.


By using these preservation methods, you can enjoy the distinctive flavor of Colorado green chili throughout the year. Whether you choose to freeze, can, or dry your chilies, proper storage ensures you’ll always have this versatile ingredient ready to add a spicy kick to your favorite recipes.

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