I grew way too many peppers!
I realize this is a very basic Instructables, but many people are unfamiliar with food dehydrating, so this is a very basic lesson in operating one for preserving your garden harvest. I like to save hot peppers from my garden each year to use in a variety of sauces and dishes in the cooler months when they are quite expensive to obtain.
Step 1: Dehydrate Your Peppers
I grow hot peppers every year and wind up growing too many. I began to dehydrate them as a way to store them 2 years ago, and have been preserving harvest this way ever since. I have a large quantity of Jolokia (ghost) peppers, Habanero, and Jalapeno peppers to preserve from this year's harvest.
For this you will need:
A basic food dehydrator.
3-4 clean mason jars with new lids and rings.
1 Extension Cord
1 Outdoor table or platform
Lots of Hot peppers
1 Sharp Knife
Cutting Board (plastic for easy cleaning)
1 pair of disposable Nitrile Gloves (latex is fine too).
Step 2: What Kind of Dehydrator?
I use a very basic "as seen on TV" model of dehydrator. It's a swap meet (flea market) find I acquired for $3.00. It has 3-4 trays when I can find them all. I works pretty well on hot peppers, apple slices and herbs. It is the best cheap dehydrator to dry peppers I've ever used, it's made very well for peppers.
Put on your gloves and slice your peppers in half, Take a pepper halve, and using the tip of your knife cut a 1/2" to 1" slice on the lower half of the pepper. This cut will help prevent curling of the pepper while dehydrating. You will be able to fit a lot more flattened peppers in a single jar.
Arrange the sliced peppers on the dehydrator so none are touching one another, making sure air can get around each individual pepper. Once you fill all 3-4 trays, we can stack our trays up and fire up your dehydrator OUTSIDE OF YOUR HOUSE (unless you like the smell of fresh police mace). A shaded table under a patio umbrella is a perfect location.
You can dry your peppers whole but it takes much longer. I would double my posted time estimates for whole peppers and would recommend drying from 24-48 hours vs. 12-24 hours. I prefer cutting all my peppers in half to speed up the process. If you dry them whole, snip the bottom of each pepper with a scissor or sharp knife 1/2"-1" up from the bottom towards the stem, to make a small vent hole so it will dry more efficiently and release moisture.
Step 3: Do This Outside!
Hot peppers should be dehydrated outside. Find a picnic table or a bench to place the dehydrator on, away from places where people might trip over the extension cord (ruining hours of drying work). In 12 hours check the peppers and remove dried ones to a clean bowl. Rearrange the peppers that aren't dry and put back on for up to 12 more hours. All the peppers should be dry in 24 hours.
My dehydrator has hot and cool spots when in operation. Rearranging the peppers that are taking longer than others to dry out is a good way to speed up the entire drying process.
Step 4: Avoid Sickness! Weird Color? Fuzzy Inside? Don't Use!
If you cut any hot peppers and they are dark or moldy on the interior or exterior, discard. These will not be good candidates to dehydrate and could get you sick.
Step 5: Your Reward! Fire in a Jar.
I store my dried hot peppers inside mason jars with new canning lids, just make sure the jars are clean and completely dry when using. You can also store them in ziplock gallon and quart sized bags, they should keep for several years, if not indefinitely.
We like to have these on hands to add some spice in stews and soups. Where these peppers really shine is for making homemade hot sauces and pepper oils. The Jolokia (ghost) peppers has a huge quantity of oil to extract for people wanting to make their own homemade hot or wing sauces.
I hope you will dry out those hot peppers from your garden for using all winter long in foods to keep you warm.
Like this Instructables? Check out my Bacon Making one!