How To Dry Chili Peppers
If you are a chili lover like I am, then you'll enjoy reading this.
Drying chili peppers is a great way to make them last longer and avoid wastage. By sucking out the moisture, you can get the heat and flavor of the chili. You can also reuse these dry chilies by introducing water into them.
The best way to dry chili peppers should be determined by conditions such as weather, humidity, and aeration. You need to choose the right method based on the kind of environment you are in. Choosing a humid season to dry your chili peppers is not recommended. This is because the chilies will only go bad.
The first step to drying chili peppers is to always select quality chili peppers for drying. Get rid of any peppers with signs of molds, cuts, spots or any other blemishes. This is because they lack freshness and flavor. The peppers to be used must be fresh and full color such as the red-hot chili pepper. The fresher they are, the more flavor you get.
Second step is to thoroughly wash and clean your peppers to remove dirt collected during harvesting. You can wash them in a colander and then allow them to completely dry on a tray. Using a cooling rack also makes them dry faster.
Here are 4 methods you can use to dry chili peppers…
Method #1: String Hang Drying
Like the name suggests, you literally use a string to dry your chili peppers. You will need a needle and thread and make a loop from which the peppers will hang. Pass the thread through the green cap of the pepper.
Maintain a distance of an inch between each. This is done to allow proper circulation of air for each of the peppers. Proper air circulation enables the chilies to crisp us faster. Once you’ve threaded all your peppers, tie a knot at the end. Do this to prevent sliding or peppers touching.
Hang the stringed peppers in a warm place where there is good sunlight absorption. Hang from the kitchen window or improvise in any other room in the house.
In about 1-3 weeks, the peppers will have shriveled and crisped up enough. They are then ready for use when needed.
Detach them from the string and place them in air-tight container. Store in room temperature. These dried chili peppers can be preserved for as long as 6 months or more.
Note that this method only works when the weather is conducive. In this case, sunny/warm weather produces the best results.
Method #2: Oven Drying
Oven drying is the best way to dry chili peppers if you have a large batch.
The first step is to preheat your oven to 100-135 degrees Fahrenheit (-92.78 °C). You must dry the chili peppers on very low heat. Next, cut the peppers lengthwise, in halves or quarters. This is to expose the fleshy bits of the peppers which need drying in the oven.
Place all the cut peppers on a cookie sheet laced with a parchment paper. Spread them evenly to ensure they are all well aerated.
Put them in the preheating oven and let them dry for 6-8 hours. Keep checking to ensure they don’t burn. The rate at which your chili peppers will dry is also dependent on their size. The bigger they are, the more time they may take in the oven and vice versa.
Once the peppers are crisped up, allow them to cool. You can choose to grind them for chili flakes. You can also r simply store them as they are in a tightly sealed jar.
Method #3: Sun Drying
Weather is a big factor if you are drying chili peppers using this method. The sun is a key
component meaning if you attempt to dry chili peppers. In moist or humid weather, they will only go bad and lose their flavor.
Sun drying is the best way to dry chili peppers during the summer weather. All you need is to coat the peppers with some oil and lay them flat on a large tray. You can also substitute the tray with a cookie sheet. Ensure that all the peppers are well spaced, cover with a thin mesh or towel. Take them to dry in the sun. The covering will protect the peppers from birds and insects. Turn the peppers every couple of days. This allows every angle of the peppers to receive sunlight.
In 1-2 weeks, the peppers should have dried out completely. Retrieve them and store in an air-tight jar. These peppers can be preserved for over a year if stored in an area free of moisture. Always store your peppers in a cool and dark area for increased shelf life.
Method #4: Food Dehydrator
The food dehydrator method is the best way to dry chili peppers. This is because it’s proven to be quick and easy! It’s important that you use a dehydrator that has some key functions. A good dehydrator must have a motorized fan. The fan allows peppers to dry faster. It also ensures that there's constant air circulation.
Depending on size of your peppers, spread them evenly on the tray. Do not overcrowd them because they will not get enough air circulation. Always put up the dehydrator in a well - ventilated room for best results. Place the temperature at 135-145 degrees. Leave the peppers to dry for 8-12 hours. Constantly keep checking as not all of them will dry at the same time. The bigger ones will take longer so extract the dried ones and leave the rest to dry.
During dehydration, the dry hot chili pepper seeds collect at the bottom. These seeds should never be thrown away. You can incorporate them into the ground pepper or simply plant them. The seeds are also a common ingredient used to spice stews and meat dishes.
Collect the dried peppers and store in a tight jar. You can also use an air-tight zip lock bag.
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