I guess I didn’t realize how prolific my Chinese 5 Color hot pepper really was until a few weeks ago when I harvested all of the remaining partially ripened peppers. There were a lot of hot peppers. I tried to eat as many as I could fresh, but I could only tolerate eating a small portion of them in fresh salsa without the peppers taking over the entire flavor and burning my face off. I like burning my face off a bit, but I love the taste of home grown tomatoes more, so it was taking a long time to use up the extra hot peppers. Then last week I noticed that some of them were starting to wrinkle, so drastic measures were in order. I considered freezing them whole but then decided to try drying them to make my own hot pepper flakes for adding into chili during the cold months.
Drying peppers is unbelievably easy. I don’t have access to a dehydrator so I wasn’t sure how well drying them in the oven would work, but I was pleasantly surprised when my peppers came out dried and a nice deep red color after a few hours.
Here’s how I did it:
1.Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit (adjust for your oven – I have an older electric oven that runs a little high so I put mine at about 175)
2. Wash and dry the peppers thoroughly. It’s okay if they are wrinkly!
3. Remove and discard any stems and cut the peppers in to smaller pieces. My peppers were fairly small to begin with so I cut them in half but I did have a wrinkly Joe E. Parker that I threw in but cut into pieces about the same size as the small halved peppers. I included all of my pepper seeds but you can remove and discard these if you want a milder end result.
4. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet (I used a parchment covered sheet)
5. Dry in the oven for around 2 or so hours, checking every 30-45 minutes and adjusting the time as needed. They need to be completely dry to store properly. Mine took around 2 1/2 hours.
6. Remove from oven and let sit for an hour or so until completely cool and dry. I let mine sit overnight because I was being lazy.
7. Crush using a mortar and pestle if you have one, otherwise you could try a spice grinder or just crush them using a spoon – whatever works.
8. Store in an airtight container.
So easy and so delicious. Also the drying peppers will make your house smell so amazing for those few hours. Do you have other methods of preserving your hot peppers?