If you dry chili peppers, this intensifies their heat, flavor and natural sugar content. For this purpose, whole chili peppers can be used to season soups or stews, for example. You can also lightly roast them in a dry pan and then rehydrate and crush them to flavor sauces or pasta. In addition, peppers can be dried in many ways and store well to serve as a natural ingredient in numerous dishes. Here are some simple preservation methods you can use yourself at home.
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Before you dry your own harvest or store-bought hot peppers
Peppers or chili peppers are suitable for drying in the oven at a very low temperature. However, you can also hang these natural products in the sun, in a dehydrator, or in a dry place in your home to dry. The latter is a popular method for hot peppers, as it adds festive color to home decor in late summer and fall. Before drying, examine each piece and throw it away if it is soft or mushy, as well as has spoiled or diseased-looking spots.
You also need to keep in mind that capsaicin, the pungent ingredient in chili peppers, is an irritant. If possible, always wear gloves when handling hot peppers. In addition, still make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after touching such spicy foods. Do not scratch your eyes, nose, face or other sensitive body parts after handling. Be especially careful around small children, pets or people who are sensitive to spicy foods.
Good reasons for food storage of hot peppers.
It is indeed a very rewarding experience to watch and care for an abundance of peppers or chilies in your garden. But how many hot peppers can you realistically eat at one time? It all depends on how hot they are and how much you love the peppery flavor. Of course, you can always pickle hot peppers to spice up your winter dishes. However, if you’re running out of shelf space or just don’t have enough of them to fill a jar, then drying is definitely the way to go.
What’s more, drying is the oldest and most widely used method of food preservation in the world. Accordingly, any type of bell pepper, spicy or sweet, can be preserved by dehydration. As mentioned earlier, the dehydration process intensifies the flavor, so you can use less of it in a recipe or dish. Dehydrating peppers also takes less active time than canning, and it requires less storage space in your pantry.
Options for drying chili peppers.
Most types of peppers dry well. Chili peppers and long sweet peppers dry exceptionally well because of their thinner flesh. After drying, these peppers can be ground or crushed and used as an all-purpose flavoring or seasoning. There are a few methods to dry peppers. The easiest is to string them and hang them in a dry environment. However, this method can take months depending on the humidity in your area. You can also dry hot peppers in your oven, which is faster and makes it easier to control temperature and humidity.
Hanging hot peppers and letting them air dry
If you live in a dry climate with daytime temperatures above 20°C, air drying is the easiest method to dry peppers. Choose thin-walled peppers for air drying first. Thicker-walled peppers do not dry quickly enough and may begin to mold.
Take freshly harvested pieces without insect damage or blemishes. Then thread the peppers onto a string. Use a long needle and thread to thread the peppers through the stems. Leave plenty of space between the peppers to allow air to circulate.
Then hang your peppers to dry. Do this preferably in a place with good air circulation and sunshine. Depending on the humidity, this method can take 3-4 weeks for the peppers to dry completely. The peppers dry completely when they are brittle. After drying, store peppers in airtight jars away from sunlight.
Drying hot peppers in the oven
Quicker than air drying, but not as fast, convenient or straightforward as a dehydrator, you can also use your oven to dry hot peppers. Prepare your chili peppers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Then, set your oven to the lowest setting and let your peppers sit in the heat for several hours. The length of time will depend on how large/small and thick/thin skinned the peppers are. Leaving them whole, however, is not an option this time. For even drying in the oven, cut the peppers into smaller, similar sized pieces to ensure they all dry at once. Wear gloves to do this and be sure to place the bell pepper pieces flesh side up.
Use a dehydrator and dry peppers.
This is the quickest and easiest way to dry hot chili peppers if you have an automatic dehydrator. For medium or larger peppers, it is best to cut them lengthwise and place them on the tray of the dehydrator so that there is plenty of room around each piece. This way, as with the other methods, the air can circulate better. You can also leave smaller peppers to dry completely.
If your appliance has a temperature setting, place it between 50 and 60 degrees Celsius or according to the instructions. The time to dehydrate may take 4 to 12 hours, depending on the thickness of the peppers. Check from time to time to see if the smaller or thinner pieces have dried out. Larger bell pepper pieces may need a few additional hours to dehydrate. The peppers are done when they become dry and brittle. Store your dehydrated peppers in jars away from direct light to preserve color.
Tips for storing after you let your peppers dry out
- You can store whole dried peppers in a glass jar with a tightly closed lid to keep the flavors strong for a long time. In addition, dried peppers will stay flavorful this way for 4 or 5 years.
- Crushed or ground pepper flakes let you store the same way, but plan to use them in a year to get the best flavor.
- Dehydrated chili peppers have more firepower and spiciness in recipes for meals and hot sauces than fresh peppers. If you grind or crush dried peppers, you can use this ingredient as an all-purpose flavor and spice for any occasion or dish.