How long does pepper last? (+3 Ways to tell)

In this article, we will answer the question “How long does pepper last?”, and how to tell If pepper is bad?

How long does pepper last?

The following table shows an estimated shelf-life of pepper in the pantry.

In the pantry 
Whole peppercorn (green, black, white pink)3-4 years or Best-by date 
Ground pepper 1-2 years or Best-by date 

Old pepper won’t be as intense in flavor as the fresh ones. So if you are using peppercorns that are past their Best-by, use a little more than what’s called for in the recipe.

In the fridge 
Type of pepperPast printed date 
Fresh (whole) Green Bell Peppers2-3 weeks 
Fresh (whole) Red Bell Peppers 1-2 weeks
Fresh Orange Bell Peppers 1-2 weeks
Fresh (whole) yellow bell Pepper1-2 weeks
Cut Bell Pepper (any color)1-3 days 
Frozen Chopped Bell Pepper4-6 months in the freezer

How to store pepper?

  1. Whether it is ground or whole pepper, it needs to be stored in a dry, dark, and cool place. Keep it away from the sink to avoid moisture. The heat from the stovetop and sunlight should be avoided.
  2. A dark kitchen cabinet, spice rack, or spice drawer are all good places to store pepper.
  3. Keep the pepper stored in an air-tight container. Keeping the whole pepper in capped pepper mill is a great idea to enjoy fresh spice flavor.

How to tell If pepper is bad?

  1. If the pepper has wet clumps and seems off, discard it. Moisture leads to the growth of fungus. 
  2. If you notice any signs of mold growth, throw all the pepper in the bin.
  3. Old pepper that is way past its Best-by no longer retains the heat. It can be discarded for quality reasons. If you still want to use it, you can revive it by roasting it on a skillet on low-medium heat until fragrant. Transfer the roasted pepper to an air-tight container.

Other FAQs about Pepper which you may be interested in.

Does Black Pepper go bad?

How to pick a pepper?

How to fix too much pepper?

How to preserve peppers?


Green peppercorns have an unripe taste and are best preserved through brining. Pepper is submerged in s salt solution. The salt penetrates the tissues softening the pulp. Brined peppercorns have a tangy and salty taste. Eat them as is or add them to meat marinades. Brined peppercorns will last 3 months if stored correctly.

Oil extraction

Peppercorn essential oil is frequently used in haircare and skincare products as well as cooking. To extract oil, red peppercorns are picked. They should be clean and free of any blemishes because the impurities will affect the quality of the finished product. The oil extraction process is based on steam distillation.

Peppercorn oil provides the following health benefits:

  • It has excellent pain-relieving properties.
  • It helps fight infections by reducing congestion during flu.
  • Due to its stimulating properties, peppercorn oil is used in Aromatherapy.
  • It is used as an appetizer.
  • Promotes body warmth when applied topically.
  • It works as a great spice for savory dishes.


Peppercorns can be dried in the sun, in a food dehydrator, or by freeze-drying for an extended shelf-life. The dried peppercorns can be crushed into flakes or ground to make powder. Powdered and dried peppercorns need to be stored in an air-tight container. They will spoil quickly because they lack the volatile oils and substances that preserve the spicy flavor of the peppercorns.

Preserve in oil

Peppercorns can be preserved in oil, preferably olive oil for an extended shelf-life. You can roast the peppercorns before immersing them in oil or use them as is after cleaning.

Types of peppers


Green peppercorns are picked when they are still unripe. The green color darkens when they are treated with sulfur dioxide to stop the enzyme growth. They are preserved through Brining.


Blanched and sun-dried green peppercorns are referred to as black peppercorns. The extensive drying process is done to inactivate spillage enzymes. Bleach peppercorns have wrinkly skin and a pungent aroma.


Red peppercorns are fully ripe peppercorns. The red color of these corns is preserved by treating them in various preserves. Red peppercorns can be added to light-colored sauces due to their ripe and pungent taste. Unlike the black peppercorns, red peppercorns are not fermented.


White peppercorns are basically red peppercorns, without the skin. Red peppercorns are soaked in water to loosen up their outer skin. As a result of which white peppercorns have a mild fermented taste.


In this article, we answered the question “How long does pepper last?”, and how to tell If pepper is bad?


Hello, I'm Sana Ameer. I'm a student of Food Science and Technology at UVAS. I like to bake and I aspire to become a Food blogger.