How To Dry Chili Peppers
Hot chili peppers offer up spice and flavor year round if preserved. Once dried, the peppers can be crushed into flakes or ground into a spicy chili powder. Store dried chilis in a jar or plastic container at room temperature for up to a year without losing any flavor or spice. Add another layer of harvest from the garden through drying.
There are two ways to dry chilis using common household appliances: in the oven and in a food dehydrator. These methods are excellent for gardeners in wet climates, or if your harvesting the last batch of fall pepper and the weather has cooled.
What you’ll need:
- Sharf Knife
- Cookie Sheet
Always wear gloves them handling hot chili peppers, especially if you are processing a lot of them. Capsicum is the substance of the chili that makes it spicy. You don’t want it getting into your eyes, nose, or mouth unexpectedly. It can even cause an unpleasant burning sensation on the skin so avoid touching other parts of your body while your work.
The cookie sheet is only necessary if you are using the oven since the dehydrator already has trays. While wearing gloves, slice the chili peppers lengthwise. Remove the stems and seeds and place the halved or quartered portions in a single layer on the cookie sheet or dehydrator trays.
On your food dehydrator, you’ll want to set the temperature around 140°F (60°C) and leave the fruit for 8-12 hours. In an oven, it is much the same process. Put your oven on its lowest setting, as close to 140°F (60°C) as possible. Check on it periodically for signs of mushiness or blackening which means the oven is too hot.
To cool the temperature below the lowest setting, leave the door cracked while the peppers dry. Turn them over a few times to ensure an even dry. Peppers are done when they are crisp and not chewy. In the oven with less airflow than the dehydrator, the process could take anywhere from eight hours to a couple of days.
If summer is still in full swing when you harvest your chilis it’s possible to dry them by the sun. The simplest method is to spread them out on a tarp, cardboard, or a sheet. Do this is an area that gets lots of sun and airflow, and make sure they are not rained on. Chilis can be turned periodically to dry evenly and should be ready within a sunny day or two.
Another option is to build a solar dehydrator. This can be made of some scrap wood and an old window. It performs the same function as a food dehydrator.