Pepper Basics

This information has been reviewed and adapted for use in South Carolina by P.H. Schmutz, HGIC Food Safety Specialist; J.E Campbell, graduate student; and E.H. Hoyle, Extension Food Safety Specialist, Clemson University. (New 10/01. Revised 03/05.)

HGIC 3535

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Purchasing & Preparing Peppers

  • Sweet peppers should be fresh-looking, firm, thick-fleshed and a bright green or red color, depending on the stage of maturity.
  • Avoid peppers that are soft and dull-looking.
  • At home, keep sweet peppers cool and humid and use them within a few days for maximum freshness.
  • To prepare peppers to stuff or bake, cut off tops and remove seeds and membrane from inside. Cook peppers in a small amount of boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain, stuff and bake as your recipe directs.
  • When working with hot peppers, always wear plastic gloves or coat hands with fat to avoid burns.

Pepper Tidbits

  • For a spicy side dish, sauté sliced peppers with minced fresh garlic in olive oil.
  • Cut fresh green or red sweet peppers in quarters, remove seeds and membrane, and stuff each quarter with seasoned cream cheese for a colorful hors d’oeurve.
  • Add ¼ cup finely chopped green pepper to 1 pound of ground beef for extra pep in hamburger or meatloaf.
  • Sauté sliced peppers with fresh mushrooms and onions to top steak sandwiches, hamburgers and hot dogs, subs, or any favorite sandwich.
  • Raw pepper rings are delicious on sandwiches.
  • Wrap crisp pepper strips in plastic to preserve fresh taste and crisp texture and pack into lunch bags for a healthful and delicious snack.
  • Chop fresh sweet peppers into tuna or egg salad for bright color and terrific taste.
  • Stir-fry sweet peppers with beef or chicken for quick and easy cooking.

Pickled Peppers (Hungarian, Banana, Other Varieties)

Makes about 8 pint jars

Wash 4 quarts long red, green or yellow peppers and drain. Cut 2 small slits in each pepper. Dissolve 1½ cups salt in 1 gallon water. Pour over peppers and let stand 12 to 18 hours in refrigerator. Drain peppers, rinse again and drain thoroughly.

Combine 2 tablespoons horseradish, 2 cloves garlic, 10 cups vinegar, 2 cups water and ¼ cup sugar; simmer 15 minutes. Remove garlic. Pack peppers into hot jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Bring liquid to a boil. Fill jar to ½ inch from top with boiling liquid. Remove air bubbles, wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath at altitudes up to 1,000 feet. At altitudes between 1,001 and 6,000 feet, process for 15 minutes.

For more information on peppers, request HGIC 3440, Pickled Peppers, or HGIC 3300, Preserving Vegetables.


Reynolds, Susan and Paulette Williams. So Easy to Preserve, Bulletin 989. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Fourth edition revised by Elizabeth Andress and Judy Harrison, 1999.

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This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement of brand names or registered trademarks by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied, nor is any discrimination intended by the exclusion of products or manufacturers not named. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.