Why Dry Hot Peppers

How to Dry Peppers is a noble mission, but Why? The biggest reason people would want to dry peppers is for storage. That’s a no brainier. But why would you want to store them and why dry? Because you have a bumper crop and need them for spices and medicinal remedies that are inherent in capsaicim. Freezing is fine but the defrosting at times is a problem. Besides, dry pepper is a very convenient way to use peppers. They can then be made into powder for cooking or capsules and wraps for cures. They don’t require valuable real estate in your refrigerator nor freezer. Removing moisture from peppers will magnify and intensify the heat from the capsaisim and enhance flavors and natural sugars it contains. Dehydrated peppers pack a bigger bite in both solid food and hot sauce recipes than fresh peppers. Did I convince you to dry them? You were already going to dry them?… Ok, then lets proceed… with caution.

Warning About Drying Peppers

Please read this!!

Even before you learn How to Dry Peppers, you should know how strong peppers particles can get. The capsiacin is a very strong chemical. The hotter the pepper the more capsaicin it will contain. If your not familiar with the Scoville Unites review, perhaps you should catch up on it. It is a way to rate the hotness of peppers, the capsiacin it contains. Take precautions when preparing fresh peppers and when drying the fruits. Wear protective gloves, goggles and a dust mask when grinding pepper pods after the drying process and during the grinding work. I cant stress that enough. If possible do this work outdoors. Be sure not to scratch your eyes, nose, face, or “anything else” after handling. Scrub your hands really well afterwards with soap and water. Take extra precaution around young children and cuddly pets.

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Different Ways on How to Dry Peppers

How to Dry Peppers… what a joke. It is almost impossible to NOT dry a pepper pod. Let me count the ways to dry peppers and you can mix and match the methods, turn them around and upside down. It can’t not work. So feel free to be free and read the following, “Ways to Dry Peppers.”

Hang Dry the Entire Pepper Plant

    The simplest method to dry peppers.

 The success of an outside or garage hang-drying is going to depend on your regional climate. If it is convenient and you are ready to take the whole plant up, simply cut her off at ground level and hang the entire plant in the garage. It will take months for the plant to dry. In the mean time the peppers normally stay fresh and colorful for longer than they would in the refrigerator. You can use them to make stuffed peppers for quite a while before they get too dry for that recipe. The humidity in your garage or area, cant be extremely high. But it’s is a good method for you to try. There is almost no work involved.

Hang Dry Only Pepper Pods

    The most popular method to dry peppers.

Look over your individual peppers well. discard the ones that have a bad spot, damage or anything that will make it go bad prematurely. Coat the pods with a fine film of olive oil and string them up by the stems. You can wrap the string with a tight knot of better yet use a needle and thin fishing line. Leave plenty of roam between them for new air and sun to get to.  Hang e’m all in a high sunny area with good airflow. Be sure to check them every now and again to make sure they’re not molding or being eaten by insects and other pests. Your cats and dogs wont touch the hot ones so not to worry.

Drying Peppers in the Oven

    A fast way to dry peppers

One of the  quickest way to dry peppers is in the oven. This can be done in just about any kitchen.  The disadvantage is it may take several hours or even a few days for the peppers to fully dry. It will depend on the size of the peppers and your oven. It sort of cramps your style if you want to cook other things in the oven in the mean time. However it is a good way to start the drying process before stringing them up in the window. And it is also a good way to finish up the drying AFTER they have been in the sunny window for a few days. The combination works well.

First off, remove the stems from your peppers. Drying peppers is faster when they are sliced long ways. This gives more surface area for the hot air to get into. No need to preheat the oven. Just place the peppers on a cookie sheet in a single layer and turn them over occasionally for even drying. Place the oven at a low low temperature, 100 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit is fine… or use the “Warm” mode. The lower the better. Leave the oven door cracked open for the moisture to escape. If you have a convection oven, you won’t need to prop the door open since air will be circulating automatically. Keep an eye on your peppers. Every hour, rotate and/or flip the peppers over. If the peppers are starting to get soft, brown, black simply turn down the temp slightly. You can also lower the temp by opening the door a bit more.  Then flip the peppers over and move them around more often. Larger, thicker pods will take longer to dry than smaller ones obviously. So take the babies out first.

Drying Peppers in ta Dehydrator

    A fast but costly way to dry peppers

how-to-dry-peppers-dehydratorHere is the quickest and perhaps the easiest way to dry any hot or sweet pepper as well as all the other extra produce your hydro-organic system grows out in surplus. You can see a video by a very well respected company Nesco/American. They offer a large range of food dehydrators ranging in price from 150$ to 50$. They do consume a lot of energy however. For example their medium sized unit the FD-61 Snackmaster® Encore Food Dehydrator does an excellent job for 65$ using 500 watts of electricity. The time taken to dehydrate a normal batch of peppers is 12 hours. It has a temperature range setting between 95-160º F. For peppers a temp of about 140 degrees is perfect.

Since we are all concerned about ECO footprints, a solar powered unit might be more inline.

Drying Peppers in a solar oven

    The very BEST way to dry peppers

how-to-dry-peppers-1All the above methods are K but if you are really interested in growing your own, many times you will have produce coming in that can’t be eaten the same day. It’s worth it to build yourself a solar powered drying station. The principal is the same on all the designs. Click on the blueprint to the right for  larger image. It will be drying not only your peppers but tomatoes, carrots, fruits and everything in between. Teaching you how to build one is beyond the scope of this article. Find a few images below. Click on the images to see the website that explains it’s construction. The first two have multiple trays, but your first should be easy to build and fun. So try a single floor unit  like the one Susan put together on the far right below. You can trough it together on a Saturday afternoon with a friend.

how-to-dry-peppers-5    how-to-dry-peppers-3    how-to-dry-peppers-2

What to Look for Afterwards

Within one or two weeks hanging, you should start seeing your pepper pods get dry and crispy. Dried peppers will rattle and show no signs of softness. They will be brittle, not crumbling. Store them in an airtight jar, tupper-ware or seal-a-meal bags.  You can grind them in a blender, crush them with your hands. Read the warning in the beginning of this article. Use gloves, and even a mask if they are really hot ones. Wash your hand well after wards. Don’t touch your face while processing.

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