How to dry peppers

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 it is 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 flavours 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.

Some like it hot, and 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.

How to dry peppers.

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

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 is not rocket science.

How to dry peppers

How to dry peppers when you have a glut in the garden. This is the whole process from beginning to end. We have used the peppadew which is our delight, but you choose your own variety.

Red peppadews just ready for harvesting.

The downside of growing 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. But what do you then do so you can have that flavour and nourishment year round? Why you dry them, of course.

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

Now comes the tedious part; 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.

Peppadews sliced in half.

Then slice them into slithers so they can dry more quickly and pop them into the drier. We purchased el-cheapo 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. 

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

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

Solar power

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.

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

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 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 want to do my bit to hand her on as pristine as when I arrived to the next generations.

This is a spiritual journey really; believing we have an ethical and moral responsibility to preserve this marvellous 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 lockdown for the coronavirus epidemic in 2020 figuring out how to dry peppers. I would rather enjoy myself than watching others having a ball on television; we dance to the sounds of different drummers.

  1. Bernard Preston
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