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Dry Chilli Peppers

Find out how to dry fresh chilli peppers

Dry Chilli Peppers

preserving | fruit | grow your own

Dry your own chilli peppers to preserve them to use through the whole year

In our article Grow Your Own Chilli Peppers we showed you how to grow chillis from seed to fruit. Having done that (or if you come across a chilli pepper special offer at the market) you’ll be the proud owner of far more chilli peppers than you can use immediately. One of the best natural ways to preserve chilli peppers is to dry them. Fresh chillies will last a week or two in a fridge; frozen they will last a few months (but emerge a bit mushy after defrosting); but dried chilli peppers will last over a year and are easy to store. In this article we will show you how to do dry your own chilli peppers.

Drying Chilli Peppers

Some chilli peppers can be dried in just the air and sunshine, but others will need to be dried in a food dehydrator or oven. The differentiating factor is usually the thickness of the skin - thin skinned pepper varieties can often be air dried; thicker skinned varieties need assistance.

Whether drying in the air, oven, or dehydrator, the first steps are the same:

The chilli peppers need to be sorted through one by one to remove any which are damaged, have soft areas, or show signs of white, black, or grey dots since these peppers are likely to rot quickly. These are the peppers which you should use now fresh rather than drying them.

Carefully wash the remaining good chilli peppers making sure you do not damage them, but also making sure you get all the dirt and dust off them. Dry them thoroughly with a towel.

Air Drying Chillies

As long as you have somewhere sunny, well ventilated, and not humid, air drying chilli peppers is the easiest method. Thread a large needle with fishing line or thin string and thread the chilli peppers by their stems together. If you point the needle up at 45 degrees as it passes through each stem you can make a chilli ristra, an example of which is pictured above.

Chilli ristra air drying chilli peppers

Hang the chilli ristra outside if it is sunny and warm, or inside a south facing window in a well ventilated room. Keep an eye on the peppers and remove any peppers which show any sign of rot or mould immediately.

Drying Chillies in the Oven

In order to use an oven to dry (rather than cook) your chillies, it must be possible to turn its temperature down to something around 100 degrees Celcius, or ideally as low as 70-80 degrees Celcius.

Drying chilli peppers in the oven

Lay the chillies on trays and put them in the oven - ideally leaving the door slightly ajar to give better air flow to remove the water vapour generated quickly. Flip the peppers every hour or two to speed up the drying process which can take over a day, so this is not the most efficient use of power! When they chilli peppers are dry enough, they will have turned a dark red colour (even if they started off green or yellow). They will still be a little flexible, but will not feel fleshy, and the skin will feel very tough.

To speed up the process, cut the chillies in half lengthways, remove the seeds, and dry the two halves. These will not keep so long and you will of course lose the seeds and the heat and flavour they bring to recipes.

Always check the drying peppers regularly to ensure that they do not burn, or you could lose your whole crop.

Drying Chillies in a Food Dehydrator

Drying chilli peppers in a food dehydrator

Drying chillies in a food dehydrator is very easy. Just follow the instructions which came with the dehydrator. It will probably take around 12 hours to dry the chillies sufficiently, and there is no risk of them cooking or getting burnt unlike the oven drying method discussed above.

Storing Dried Chillies

Dried chilli peppers can be stored in a sealed jar for over a year

Dried chillies can be stored for a very long time (well over a year) as long as they are kept in a moisture free and ideally dark environment such as a sealed glass jar or plastic box in a cupboard, or could be left hanging somewhere sunny and well ventilated where they will also be a nice ornamental feature.

Article Published: 17:05, 17th Jun 2011

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