It happens to the best of us: you bought a whole bunch of fresh vegetables and completely forgot all about them. When you reach into your refrigerator, the beautiful jalapeno peppers have become wrinkled and shriveled up.
So what do you do: toss them in your mouth, or in the trash? Can you eat wrinkled jalapeno peppers?
Wrinkled jalapeno peppers are safe to eat as long as there isn’t any mold or slimy soft spots. Although safe to eat, wrinkled jalapeno peppers will not taste as good as fresh peppers since the skin will develop a rubbery feel. The best ways to use wrinkled jalapeno are in cooked meals.
Some great cooked meals with wrinkled jalapenos are stir-fries, soups, and omelets. The flavor of a cooked wrinkled or fresh jalapeno will be the same and cooking removes any texture differences.
Now that we know how to use a wrinkled jalapeno pepper, let’s cover why they even get wrinkled in the first place. After all, you won’t need to save them if your peppers never get wrinkled.
Why Do Jalapenos Become Wrinkled?
Just like raisins, jalapeno peppers become wrinkled over time because they have lost moisture.
It happens naturally due to evaporation. This process can be sped up if the jalapenos are left out on the kitchen counter. Jalapenos will stay fresher longer if stored in the fridge.
Be careful when determining if your jalapeno pepper has wrinkled skin versus white lines and textured skin.
The wrinkles we’re talking about are from the jalapeno pepper getting older. As the peppers gets older its skin tends to get soft, mushy, and wrinkly.
If your pepper has white lines or turning red then it is likely still a fresh pepper.
Why Do Jalapenos Have White Lines?
Do not mistake an older wrinkled jalapeno pepper for a ripe and spicy jalapeno pepper with white lines and flecks on the outside. These white lines or “stretch marks” are typically a sign of a hot jalapeno that can be of young age.
These white lines are known as corking and occurs when the inside of the jalapeno pepper grows faster than the skin can stretch.
Jalapeno peppers with these white lines tend to be spicier and more flavorful than the peppers that have unblemished skin.
What’s The Best Way To Eat Wrinkled Jalapenos?
The good news is that wrinkled jalapenos aren’t spoiled yet. The peppers have just lost some of their crispiness and spiciness, but can still be safely eaten.
However, wrinkled jalapeno peppers will not be as good raw as a fresh pepper. Wrinkled jalapenos might feel mushy which is a very off putting texture when eaten raw.
The best way to use a wrinkled jalapeno pepper is to include it in any cooked dish. The flavor between a wrinkled and fresh jalapeno pepper are the same in a cooked dish. Plus cooking removes any texture differences.
Sautes, Soups, and Stir Fries
Wrinkled and fresh jalapenos are great additions to any cooked dish such as sautes, soups, and stir fries.
You can cut the peppers into small squares or slices while removing any bruised, soft, and mushy parts. You won’t taste any difference in the quality of the dish because the heat will actually cause any vegetable to lose moisture.
By the time you serve your food, nobody will know that you salvaged a wrinkled jalapeno pepper—it’ll be our little secret.
Roasting Jalapeno Peppers
Another fantastic way of using your wrinkled peppers is to roast them.
Roasting jalapeno peppers will actually make the pepper less spicy and add a sweet and smoky flavor.
Just put whole peppers on a baking sheet, sprinkle some olive oil, and place in an oven set at 450 F. You know they’re ready to take out when they have become charred, and start to collapse.
You can also place jalapeno peppers directly onto a BBQ grill and rotate them when the outside becomes charred. Remove when all sides have become charred.
This is a great way to add some smoky heat to your favorite salsa or sauce. See your wrinkled jalapeno peppers have transformed into a gourmet ingredient.
Dehydrating Jalapeno Peppers
Since the jalapenos are already getting dehydrated and turning wrinkly – why not finish the dehydration job?
Dehydrating jalapeno peppers are a great way to have a little spicy flavor on hand at anytime. There are a few ways to dehydrate these peppers.
I prefer the air dry method or using a dehydrator (if you have one).
You don’t need any equipment in order to air dry jalapeno peppers. Just hang the peppers or place them in a hanging basket where there’s plenty of air flow. You can also hang the peppers on a string outside in the sunlight.
The peppers will take a few days and even weeks to fully dry out. You’ll know they’re ready when the peppers have no moisture left and can snap or are crunchy when you fold the peppers.
You can chop or crush up the peppers to store them in a small container to save space.
Dehydrated jalapeno peppers can be rehydrated by letting them soak in hot water for 10-20 minutes. The rehydrated pepper will return to their normal size and will be soft which is perfect for cooking.
This means jalapeno peppers are ready-to-go peppers that can be easily added to soups, stews, and pastas.
How To Store Jalapenos So They Don’t Go Bad
A good method to prevent jalapeños from drying out is to store them in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator in clean, dry and airtight plastic containers or bags.
You will notice the difference between a properly stored jalapeno in the fridge versus one left on the counter. The jalapenos in the fridge will have more firm skin and the seeds will remain closer to white compared to the jalapeno on the counter.
In fact, a study published in the Journal of Food Protection found that whole jalapeno peppers stored at 44°F did not grow any foodborne pathogens like salmonella. This only emphasizes the importance of storing your jalapenos properly in the fridge.
I’ve found that placing a folded paper towel inside the container will draw out moisture, and keep the jalapeño seeds fresh and light coloured and delay the browning process.
How To Tell If Jalapenos Are Bad?
The most important signs of a rotten jalapeno pepper are slime and mold.
If they feel wet and sticky when you touch them, or if they have already burst open and turned into a watery mess, then toss them immediately.
Jalapeno Pepper Seeds Have Turned Black
Sometimes when you cut open the pepper, you will notice that the seeds have turned black.
Do not be alarmed if the seeds have turned black. This means the seeds have gone bad but it doesn’t mean the pepper itself has gone bad.
You weren’t going to eat the seeds anyway so just remove them as you normally would and chop or slice the rest of the pepper. Just check that the rest of the pepper does not have any slime or mold.
Throw away the pepper if you notice any slime or mold anywhere on the jalapeno.
Saving Jalapenos Before Going Bad
Before placing the jalapeno peppers in the freezer, be sure to cut or dice them to your desired size. This will allow you to easily dump the frozen peppers into stews or hot pans when you want to cook them.
A pepper that is frozen whole can be more challenging to use since you need to thaw it out before being able to cut it.
Just put the diced peppers into a zip lock bag and place them in your freezer. When properly stored, these jalapeno peppers can last anywhere from 6 months to 1 year in the freezer.
Just check for freezer burn before using these frozen jalapenos.
Dehydrating Jalapeno Peppers
As mentioned above, you can also dehydrate jalapeno peppers to preserve them for up to a year in the pantry.
So are wrinkled jalapeno peppers bad? No wrinkled jalapeno peppers are not bad and are safe to eat.
Wrinkled jalapeno peppers are safe to eat as long as there isn’t any mold or slimy soft spots. Although safe to eat, wrinkled jalapeno peppers will not taste as good as fresh peppers. In fact, the skin tends to get tougher which can cause a rubbery feel when chewing.
However, wrinkled jalapenos can still be used in cooked meals such as stir-fries, soups, and omelets. The flavor of a cooked wrinkled or fresh jalapeno will be the same and cooking removes any texture differences.
Wrinkled jalapeno peppers are safe to eat raw but it’s not recommended. It’s best to throw wrinkled jalapeno peppers into a cooked dish so the rubbery texture of the skin gets broken down.
If your wrinkled jalapeno pepper is beyond saving due to mold or slime then try composting it!
Jalapeo peppers are great compost material that can break down into rich fertilizer for your plants. If you don’t have a composter then bury the old jalapeno pepper into the ground.
Nature will turn your spoiled produce into next year’s bounty.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are Jalapenos With Brown Seeds Bad?
A: Jalapenos with brown seeds are not bad. Similar to wrinkled skin, brown seeds are a sign of the pepper aging. Be sure to use the jalapeno soon before it goes bad. You can learn more about jalapenos with brown seeds in this article.