Bought a couple of bell peppers and wondering if leaving them on the counter is okay? Do you need to refrigerate bell peppers?
Let’s talk about storing bell peppers and what’s the best way to go about that.
Do You Refrigerate Whole Bell Peppers?
You don’t need to refrigerate them, but bell peppers keep for up to 2 weeks if you store them in the fridge instead of 3 to 5 days if you leave them at room temperature. Because of that, the refrigerator is a much better option than placing fresh bell peppers on the counter.
According to the UC Postharvest Technology Center, the ideal temperature for storing bell peppers is around 45°F (7.5°C). That’s slightly higher than the temperature in your fridge but much lower than your regular room temperature.
That makes refrigeration a much better option than leaving fresh bell peppers on the counter or even in the pantry.
In other words, leaving whole bell peppers unrefrigerated is okay if you plan to use them within 3 to 5 days. If not, place them in the fridge.
(You can also freeze bell peppers if need be.)
Storing Whole Peppers
The best way to store whole bell peppers is to store them unwashed in the crisper drawer. If your crisper is full, you can place them anywhere else in the fridge, but make sure they’re in an airtight container or freezer bag so they don’t lose water as quickly.
Slowing down water loss is the most important thing to keep bell peppers fresh. Water loss results in softening, the primary spoilage sign of bell peppers.
To do so, you can :
- Store them loose in the most humid place in the fridge – the crisper drawer. That’s my preferred way.
- Place them in a resealable container or plastic bag, either of which traps moisture quite well.
If you go with the latter solution, expect water drops in whatever you store the bell peppers. That water will cause soft spots to form more quickly and accelerate spoilage.
Because of that, it’s best to wipe the container or bag with a paper towel every 2 to 3 days or whenever you notice water buildup. Or place a paper towel that will soak up all that moisture beneath the peppers.
Now, what if you wash the peppers before storage?
Despite storing bell peppers unwashed is the recommended option, washing them before storage isn’t a big deal. Just make sure you let the veggies thoroughly dry before refrigeration.
If you leave bell peppers unrefrigerated, place them in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. A cold pantry is much better than a fruit basket on top of the fridge.
Storing Cut Peppers
Store cut or sliced bell peppers in the fridge in an airtight container or resealable bag. To extend the storage period, line the bag or container with a paper towel to soak up extra moisture and help the veggies stay fresh and crisp for longer.
Remember that water buildup we talked about in the previous section? That process goes into overdrive after cutting up the bell pepper.
Here’s what your cut-up bell pepper might look like after a couple of days in an airtight container in the fridge:
While it doesn’t seem like much, that small amount of water will accelerate the softening of the slices even further and noticeably shorten their storage time.
In other words, unless you plan on finishing the cut-up bell pepper within two to three days, using that paper towel is well worth it.
You can dry the paper towel you used for storing peppers and reuse it at least a couple of times.
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