Whether you’re an avid cooker who adds peppers to almost every meal or you’re an occasional stove user who just wants to save money on condiments, knowing how to dry peppers is a great skill to acquire. The best thing about dry peppers is that you can store them for months – if not years. All you should do is dry peppers correctly and store them in a proper way.
Below are four practical ways to dry peppers of all types, including Tabasco, Pequin, Firecracker Cayenne, and Thai Peppers.
1. Outdoor drying method
Ask your grandma about how they dried fruit and veggies when they were young. Chances are, she’d tell you that she dried them outdoors. If it’s hot outside, slice peppers and place them in one layer on a baking sheet or big plate. Dry outside – preferably on the sun – during the day and bring the plate or baking sheet inside in the evening.
You can also dry whole peppers this way or create a strand of them. Grab a long needle and a fishing line or strong thread and string whole peppers through the stems, leaving the space between peppers. It may take a few days or a week to dry peppers outdoors during warm months.
2. Indoor drying method
If you don’t have a backyard, you can also dry your peppers indoors. Simply place sliced or whole peppers in one layer on a baking sheet or big plate and put it in a warm place in your house. Make sure there’s enough sunlight in that area. You can also dry your peppers on your windowsill. You’ll need to check the peppers for any sign of spoilage and remove such peppers. You’ll also need to rotate them every other day to speed up the drying process. If you’re going to dry peppers indoor, be ready to wait with patience as this method is time-consuming. It can take almost a month to dry peppers indoors.
3. Food dehydrator method
If you’re not too tight on a budget and you can afford to buy a food dehydrator, it will be much easier and faster to dry peppers. If you need to dry small peppers, you can place them whole in a food dehydrator. The larger pepper should be sliced or cut lengthwise. When placing the peppers in a food dehydrator, make sure you leave enough space for proper airflow.
If your food dehydrator features different temperature options, it’s even better. Set the temperature between 135F and 145F and dry peppers for 8 to 12 hours, depending on which dehydrator you have. More expensive food dehydrators have more temperature options and more power to dry fruit and veggies, including peppers, quicker. Though, cheap dehydrators work just fine, as well.
When drying in a food dehydrator, it’s important to remove the thinner or smaller pieces of peppers timely. Otherwise, you can overdry them. Bigger pieces will need more time to dehydrate. Once all the pieces of peppers become brittle, remove them from the dehydrator.
4. Oven drying method
If you don’t have a food dehydrator and you don’t have time for drying your peppers indoors or outdoors, you can use your oven to speed up the drying process. Slice your peppers or cut in quarters or half and place on the baking sheet in one layer. Put it in the oven and bake at the lowest temperature setting, but no more than 125F. It may take a few hours to dry your peppers – it depends on how you cut your peppers.
If you’re going to dry whole peppers in the oven, rotate them occasionally and bake them for several hours. Keep a door of the oven a bit open – at least 2-3 inches – so that moisture could escape. Again, it’s important to remove dried pieces of peppers on time to ward off burning. Ensure you stay home when using this drying method, as there’s a high risk of burning.
How to Store Dried Peppers
Once you’re done, you can use a spice mill, coffee grinder, or food processor to grind dried peppers. Store pepper powder in an airtight container in the dry and dark area in your pantry.
You can also make your own red pepper flakes if you grind dried red peppers coarsely. When it comes to dried whole peppers, consider storing them in ziplock bags.
Drying peppers doesn’t require special skills, but it’s vital to stay alert when using a certain drying method mentioned above – especially stay careful with the oven. Now you know how to make your own dried peppers.