Pepper is a low maintenance spice. It doesn’t take much effort to keep it fresh for years with a few simple steps:
Away from moisture
Pepper is hygroscopic, it interacts with the moisture in the air. It naturally absorbs moisture in the air, leading to flavor loss and weight changes.
Besides, moisture also encourages mold growth. Mold not only spoils peppers, but it also produces toxins. Many of these toxins, like aflatoxin, are considered to be carcinogens.
The ideal water content for pepper should be below 14%. And the relative humidity of the surrounding air should be below 65%.
Tip: Always keep pepper away from a high-humidity environment. Also, wetted pepper should be dried immediately.
Furthermore, we don’t recommend to shake pepper out of the bottle directly into something you are cooking as the cooking steam will introduce moisture into the pepper jar.
Away from light
Light facilitates the oxidation process. Which alters the color and the taste of pepper.
Furthermore, piperine (the chemical compound which is responsible for the pungency of the pepper) transforms into nearly tasteless isochavicine when exposed to light.
Tip: Using an amber bottle or opaque tin to store the pepper.
Away from heat
Similar to light, heat also facilitates the oxidation process.
Besides that, the pepper volatile oil evaporates at a faster rate at a high temperature.
Tip: Avoid storing pepper near the stove or anything that produces heat.
Also, the fluctuation of temperature can cause condensation and eventually mold. So If you store pepper in the refrigerator, keep it in an air-tight container and return it promptly after use.
Keep it in an air-tight container
Pepper loses its volatile oil through evaporation. Air-tight container helps minimize the loss of volatile oil into the air.
Tip: Avoid using PE and PP plastic containers for long term storage as they are porous.
Store whole pepper and grind as needed
Some volatile oil and most of the piperine are contained within the wall of whole pepper.
When grounded, pepper has more surface area exposed to the air. Hence, Oxidation and loss of volatile oil tends to be more pronounced. So, it loses flavor more rapidly than whole pepper.
Tip: It is always better to store whole pepper and grind them as required.