Sweet, crisp and juicy bell peppers can be prepared in a variety of ways. They can be stuffed, sautéed, baked, pureed, or simply eaten raw. With so many delicious ways to prepare them, it's easy to grab a few too many when you're at the store. To keep all those peppers from shriveling or rotting prematurely, we've outlined our best tips on how to store them.
How Long Do Bell Peppers Last in the Fridge?
The shelf life of your bell peppers will depend on whether they are whole, cut or cooked. The color of your peppers may also determine how long they stay fresh.
When stored properly in the refrigerator, whole bell peppers are best used within five days, according to the USDA, although they may last longer. Usually, green bell peppers (which are picked before they are ripe, hence their green color) will last longer than red, orange, yellow, purple and brown peppers (which are picked after they've become ripe).
Prepped and cut bell peppers do not last as long as ones that have been kept whole. They should keep for about two days in the refrigerator as long as they've been kept in an airtight container with a paper towel. Again, green bell peppers will probably last longer than other colors of peppers.
Leftover cooked bell peppers that are stored in an airtight container will last for about three to four days in the refrigerator, according to the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. In this case, the color of the pepper will not change how long it lasts.
Bell peppers can also be frozen and will keep for a year in the freezer.
How to Select the Freshest Bell Peppers
The freshest bell peppers will not only taste the best, but they'll also allow you to store them for longer at home. A fresh bell pepper is firm and feels heavy for its size. It should be smooth and shiny with a rich and vivid color. An old bell pepper will usually have dark spots, holes and/or wrinkled skin. Avoid peppers that exhibit any of those signs.
How to Properly Store Bell Peppers
Bell peppers come off as tough and sturdy, but they can easily shrivel if they're not stored properly. The best way to keep bell peppers fresh is to store them whole, in a plastic bag inside the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. This will help your bell peppers retain their moisture and preserve their flavor and texture.
For cut bell peppers, make sure to place the pieces in an airtight container or zip-top bag with a paper towel. The paper towel will prevent the pieces from drying out.
Cooked bell peppers can be stored in an airtight container or bag in the refrigerator as well.
How Long Do Bell Peppers Last When Left Out?
If you're lacking space in the fridge, bell peppers can stay fresh at room temperature for a few days. Make sure to store them in a cool spot away from sunlight. Placing them inside a paper bag will also help keep your bell peppers crisp and firm.
What If My Bell Peppers Are Wrinkled but Not Spoiled?
Wrinkled skin is a sign that your bell peppers have begun to lose their moisture. Unless there's visible mold or an off smell, your peppers should still be perfectly safe to eat. Although they can still be eaten raw, their shriveled appearance may not be aesthetically pleasing. We prefer incorporating these bell peppers into a cooked dish such as a sauté or casserole, or just simply roasting them for a salad.
If you find that you've come home with a few more bell peppers than needed, don't worry, as they will keep in the refrigerator for at least five days if kept whole. That's enough time to figure out which recipe you want to cook with them. To give you a head start on your search, here's our popular recipe for Roasted Red Peppers Stuffed with Kale& Rice, or try this super-simple Sheet Pan Ratatouille.