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How to Tell if Bell Peppers Have Gone Bad (with photos!)

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Here's how to easily tell if bell peppers have gone bad! Bell peppers can last for a week or two in the refrigerator but it's important to know the tell-tale signs that fresh peppers are about to go bad or should be discarded.

Bell peppers are a versatile vegetable - they are great in stir-fry dishes, appetizer platters, added to chili, or stuffed with meat in rice. They're not an inexpensive vegetable, especially if you buy organic peppers, so you'll want to use them before they turn.

Old, rotting bell peppers don't taste good and aren't safe to eat, so here's how to check to make sure yours are okay.

A wrinkly red bell pepper.
A wrinkly red bell pepper.
A yellow bell pepper with dark spots.
Yellow bell pepper with dark spots and mold.

Signs of Rot in Bell Peppers

Look for these signs of spoilage to see if your bell pepper has gone bad.

  1. Mold - the easiest way to spot a rotting bell pepper is if it has white, brown, or green mold. Mold may be on the interior or exterior of the pepper. Any peppers with mold should be discarded.
  2. Firmness - one of the first signs a bell pepper is getting older is wrinkly skin or soft spots. Bell peppers with a little bit of wrinkly skin don't necessarily need to be discarded but they should be used quickly. Bell peppers that are wrinkly all over and feel mushy should be discarded.
  3. Sliminess - if there is a small amount of sliminess on the exterior (and none on the interior) of the pepper and it easily washes away, the bell pepper is probably okay to eat. If the pepper is slimy and quite wrinkly, you should toss it.
  4. Discoloration - if the interior or exterior of the bell pepper has black or brown spots it is too old to eat and should be discarded.
  5. Smell - if your bell pepper has a strong acrid smell it should be discarded. It won't taste good.
The interior of a yellow bell pepper with mold.
The interior of a moldy red bell pepper.

The Best Way to Store Bell Peppers

Fresh bell Peppers are best when kept in the refrigerator in a loose or perforated bag that allows for some air movement. Keep them in the crisper drawer if possible.

Don't wash your bell peppers before putting them in the fridge, they should remain dry until you are ready to use them and then can be washed.

In general, green bell peppers have a slightly longer shelf life than red and orange bell peppers.

Bell Pepper FAQs

How long do bell peppers keep in the fridge?

Whole bell peppers, when stored properly, will keep for one to two weeks in the refrigerator.

Sliced bell peppers will usually keep for up to 4 days when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Cooked bell peppers will keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.

Do you need to store bell peppers in the fridge?

Ideally, bell peppers should be refrigerated. If that's not possible, store them at room temperature in a cool, dry place.

Green peppers will last a bit longer than yellow, orange, or red peppers.

You can also freeze bell peppers if you can't immediately use them.

Are bell peppers with a bad smell okay to eat?

Bell peppers with an acrid smell or unpleasant odor should not be eaten.

How long do cut bell peppers last?

Cut bell peppers will keep for up to 4 days when stored in the refrigerator. Store them in an airtight container like a plastic bag or Tupperware.

Pat them dry with a paper towel before storing them.

Can you freeze bell peppers?

Yes, you can freeze bell peppers. I recommend slicing or dicing them before freezing them in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container.

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