If you’re anything at all like me, chilies, especially the hot ones are an ingredient best used sparingly. So, what do we do if we come into a large number of fresh chillies all at once? Rather than just letting them spoil, we dry them instead.
There are two methods that I use, the first is to hang the chili. This method works well in the warmer months when there is a warm dry climate.
1. It is easy and requires less ongoing attention than rack drying. It is best described as set and forget.
2. You can dry large a large number of chilies in a small space.
1. It takes longer than rack drying.
2. More prone to rot than rack drying.
The second method, Rack drying is used in the colder months. when hanging simply won't work.
1. It's much faster than hanging.
2. Rot isn't a problem
1. Needs active supervision.
2. takes up a lot more space than hanging.
Step 1: The Chilies
The process always starts with good quality fresh chillies. They should have the stalk still attached and be in good condition.Any damage to the skin will allow rot to set in so any blemished chilies should be set aside for other uses.
Step 2: Method One: Hanging
The first method I use is to hang the chili. As the name implies, you simply attach the chili to a string and hang it up.
You should try to hang the chili is a place that is warm, dry and has good air flow.
There are two ways to hang the chili on a string best described as the Needle or Knot methods.
Step 3: The Needle
The quickest and easiest way of hanging chili, if you have a heavy needle handy.
To string the chilies,
1. Take your first chili and push the needle through the base of the stalk, not the fruit itself.
2. Pull the string through until you have an inch or so left. Tie off the string to secure the chili.
3. Repeat the process, threading each chili onto the string and pushing it to the bottom.
4. Once all the chilies are on the string, hang it somewhere dry that has a good air flow.
5. Wait until the chilies dry. It can take up to a month depending on the conditions.
6. Remove the dry chilies from the string and store them in a air tight container.
The dry chilies can last up to a year if stored correctly in a cool environment.
Step 4: The Knot
Individually tie the chilies to the string, I would recommend doing this only if you don't have a needle. It is far more time consuming and you can not fit nearly as many chilies on a string but it does work.
1. Tie each chili to your string as closely together as you can. Tie the knot around the base of the stem.
2. Hang the string.
3. Wait until the chilies dry. This can take up to a month depending on the temperature and humidity in the area where the chilies have been hung.
4. Untie the chilies and store them in a cool area in an air tight container.
The knot you use doesn't really matter. I tend to use a slip knot as it is easy to untie once the chili is dry but again, it doesn't really matter which you use.
Step 5: Method Two: Rack Drying
The Rack drying method is best used when the conditions are not conducive to hanging. I use it in winter when the temperature drops or there isn't the time required for hanging.
All you need is a wire rack, I use a cake cooling rack and a gentle source of heat.
Simply spread the chilies on the rack making sure to leave space to allow air to circulate between them before setting the rack near your heat source. Rack drying usually takes between 4 and 8 days to complete.
There are any number of heat sources you can use for the drying. Some examples are, the sun, a room heater or even your oven on its lowest setting with the door ajar.
You need to check the chilies very regularly to make sure that they are not overheating, the next step show what can happen if you forget.
Step 6: Why Rack Drying Needs Your Attention
I think the photo says it all here really. This is the result of forgetting about a batch of chilies drying in the oven on the lowest heat with the door slightly open.