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Safety tips for freezing green chile

It is that time of year again where our senses of smell are hit with the amazing aroma of a New Mexico staple – red and green chile. It is officially chile season in the Land of Enchantment, and if you’re like Chad Brummett, you can’t just get a little bit of chile. So how can we ensure that all that chile we buy will stay good, particularly green chile? Cindy Davies, Bernalillo County Cooperative Extension Service Program Director, discussed some safety tips for freezing green chile.

Commercial Chile Roasting Precautions

Commercial roasters are a convenient and economical way to handle large volumes of chile peppers. Some vendors use garbage bags to hold roasted peppers. However, this practice is dangerous because plastic polymers and chemicals such as pesticides imbedded in the plastic can be released into the peppers when the bag is exposed to heat from the peppers. Therefore, it is best to use a food-safe container such as a large roasting pan, pillowcase, or cooler/ice chest to collect roasted peppers, then transport to your home in a chilled ice chest. Transfer into smaller containers as soon as possible. Remember to place packaged, roasted peppers under refrigeration within 2 hours of exposure to heat.

Peeling After Blistering

Removal of the outer skin is easier after freezing. If freezer space permits, cooled, blistered chiles may be packed and frozen. As the chile is peeled, either before or after freezing, slit along the sides and remove seeds and veins. Stems may be left attached for chiles rellenos.

Packaging

Pack whole, unpeeled chiles in plastic freezer bags or wrap in heavy aluminum foil or freezer wrap. Press down to remove all air and seal. Peeled chiles, whole or diced, can be packaged in plastic bags or rigid containers of glass, metal, or plastic. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace and seal.

Freezing and Storage

Freeze chiles immediately after packing. Freeze at 0°F (-18°C) or below. Put no more food into the home freezer than will freeze within 24 hours. Usually, this is about two or three pounds of food to each cubic foot of freezer capacity. For quickest freezing, place packages against freezing plates or coils and leave a little space between packages so air can circulate freely. After freezing, packages may be stored close together. Store them at 0°F (-18°C) or below. Frozen chiles should be used within 12 months.