Alright, you must be the kind of person who likes food with some heat, otherwise you’d be researching how to make bundt cakes. Scrap the sugar and get yourself a sheet pan or any other pan that can go in the oven. We won’t be using high heat to dry here, so as long as it says “oven-safe” you’ll probably be OK using it. Even some foil made into a make-shift bowl or pan will work. Get ready for your house to smell like peppers! RECORD SCRATCH. Let’s start at the beginning.
Step 1. Pick ’em. The right way though.
Make sure to pick the entire pepper, stem included. Cutting with clippers as close to the nearest plant stem works just as well. Intact stems trick the plant into thinking there’s a pepper there still. It will be pumping energy into creating the proteins needed for pepper growth. If the stem is off, you’ll start seeing the plant putting energy into creating new flowers within a few days, meaning more peppers faster. We all like that.
Step 2. Wash ’em.
I throw peppers into a strawberry bowl, drizzle soap, mix around with my fingers, and rinse. A sieve works well too. The ones I’m using are Sinahuisa peppers, about the size of your pinky finger. Bigger peppers can be washed one by one. Now just rinse and let sit to dry, or go right to step 3.
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Step 3. Cut ’em.
Any knife, any cutting board. Cut the ends off of each side of the pepper, stem and flower tip, and then cut into either rounds or long halves or quarter strips.
You can not dry a pepper with out this step. Roasting peppers involves leaving the whole pepper intact to where the inside heats and cooks, and the outside blisters. Drying requires you to cut them open. (For a fun side-experiment, leave a few to the side and roast them before drying.)
Once everything is cut and laid in the pan, move to step 4.
Step 4. Set it and forget it! Kind of.
Set the oven to 120F, and then set a timer for 3 hours. If you have a dehydrator, follow the instructions in the manual for your peppers. If you’ve made a solar dehydrator, I really don’t know how those work, so follow your gut and be careful. Do not leave the house while the oven is on, do not leave the oven on overnight while you sleep. These are great ways to possibly burn your house down with everyone, and everything, in it. That was important to say. Moving on!
Step 5. Crush them!
Let your peppers cool to room temperature, anywhere from 1 hour (cast iron pan) to 10 minutes (aluminum foil). If they are in a cast iron pan, you can transfer your dried peppers to a heat-safe bowl to cool and the time will reduce drastically. They should be cool to the touch. Now you can crush them using a few methods. A mortar and pestle works, but placing them into a thick plastic bag and hitting or tapping with a glass jar (GENTLY) works just as well. Shake the bag occasionally to allow the big pieces to jostle to the surface, making for easy targets. A mortar and pestle gives you more control of how small your pepper flakes get. A small coffee grinder might work too, but the ensuing cloud of pepper dust might be annoying and unnecessary.
Now toss a pinch into homemade spaghetti sauce or mix some of it into coarse kosher salt for a spicy margarita!
Share your own tips in the comments below. Thank you for reading!