How to dry peppers

Knowing how to dry peppers enables you to control the heat and if you are as neurotic about pesticides as I am, you can be absolutely certain they are organic.

Have you noticed how red pepper powder sometimes has already lost its piquant flavour even when you first open the spice-bottle? It does not keep and once exposed to the air the subtle aromas are lost. In fact you will never know just how good it can be until you dry your own. The taste is simply in another league that you will quite likely never have experienced before.

How to dry peppers.

Some like it hot but others do not. I prefer a mild dry-pepper; by controlling the amount of seed you can vary the heat according to your own taste.

So of course it depends on whether you use the Trinidad Scorpion or a mild-fruit like the peppadew; lots of flavour without burning out the lining of your mouth.

Dried red pepper powder.

I would only do this incidentally if you grow your own peppers and on this scale I would not try marketing the dried powder. It is quite a lot of work and only for those gardeners who also take a delight in the flavour and freshness of their food.

This is the real deal; flavour in your cooking and sprinkled on your food that is without equal. You will never really know just how good it is until you do it yourself; it's not rocket-science.

How to dry peppers

Red peppadews just ready for harvesting.

This is about how to dry peppers when you have a glut in the garden; it is the whole process from beginning to end.

We have used the peppadew which is our delight but you choose your own variety.

A bucketful of bright red peppadews just ready to be dried.

The downside of planting peppers is that they have a very long growing season; but then you will be able to enjoy them fresh from the bush for months in late summer and even through mild winters. But what are you going then so you can have that flavour and nourishment all year-round? Why you dry them, of course.

Peppadews sliced in half.

Now comes the tedious part of drying peppers; using a sharp blade you have to remove the stalks and as many of the seeds as you choose. That is your decision. I have tried various methods and there is not much in it; now I just slice them in half to begin, and then core them out.

An apple-corer works too.

Burned pepper flakes.

Then cut them into slithers so they can dry more quickly and pop them into the drier. We purchased an inexpensive model and it draws only 250W; next time I will look for a machine with a bit more oomph. It takes about twenty-hours.

Of course you could put them in the oven too and it is rather quicker; or out with the cat on a hot tin-roof. Keep the thermostat below 80*C or they will burn.

They must be completely dry and flake in your fingers or they will go mildewy; this is important. 

Dried peppadews in a grinder.

You can now pop them into air-tight bags ready for tossing into your cooking at your leisure, or into a bottle of olives if you enjoy preserving them too, but what I often do is to blend them to a powder.

Keep your dried pepper powder in small air-tight bags and only put a small amount in the shaker at a time. Store them in a cool place, or even in the fridge or freezer.

How do you dry peppers naturally?

Should you be a serious nature guru and using driers, ovens and electrical power goes against the grain then you can always hang them on a string.

But there is a proviso; you must have a dry winter.

  1. Pick the peppers with secateurs leaving a long stalk.
  2. Thread them through that stalk using a standard needle and cotton.
  3. Hang the strings of peppers on a drying rack in front of a wood stove; a draughty spot is desirable.
  4. Within a month they will be dry and crackly.
  5. Store them in an air-tight glass jar; they'll keep for several years.

Solar power

The solar lens effect can be used to dry peppers too.

If your are a greenie as I am then you will be aware that you are using a lot of energy to dry your peppers; 250W x 20 hours = 5kWh. Using prepaid electricity in South Africa that would cost nearly R10, half a US-dollar, but we get our power from the sun.

It really is incredible; that sun charges the battery in our E-car, drives the dishwasher and oven, and even powers my machine tools.

The colour cyan, turquoise really, is a combination of blue and green. I want to live to a vibrant ninety with all my joints and marbles intact, but not at the expense of Mother Earth. I will to do my bit to hand her on as pristine as when I arrived to the next-generation. Using solar energy to dry your peppers means you are not adding to the greenhouse gases.

This is a spiritual journey really; believing we have an ethical and moral-responsibility to preserve this marvelous gift that we have. What is a cyan zone you may be asking?

It is not a heavy thing; I have had a lot of fun during the lock-down figuring out how to dry peppers. I would rather enjoy myself than watching others having a ball on television; we dance to the beat of a different drummer.

Eating red chili peppers regularly will have a profound influence on your wellness. Researchers have found that it reduces the total mortality by 12%; that's not small beer, especially as the follow-up period was 19 years. 

They found that peppers increase the breakdown of fats in the blood, and reduce hypertension; and even the likelihood of developing type-2 diabetes[1].

One chili per month was their criterion; that's not a lot to improve your well-being and add good years to your span of three score and ten. How to dry peppers does wonders for the taste of our food and general health.

How do you dry peppers naturally?

Peppers will dry naturally on the plant; provided there is no rain, nor attack by pests. You can harvest them after a few months.

You can harvest them and put them in a basket to dry in the hot sun; or lay them out on a trampoline.

Avoid using sulphites to preserve them; they have just earned the dubious "contact dermatitis of 2024 award."

We still think that a dedicated drier or warm oven is better despite the electricity used. "Natural" is not always better.

Freezing our peppers remains still our first choice.

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