Fast, Free and Easy Solar Dried Chillies




About: To see more of my work you are welcome to follow me on Instagram @cam_de_burgh

I love to grow my own food, and I love chillies.

I don't really understand the appeal of chillies, but I do love them. What is it about that delicious burning pain that makes us come back for more?

Unfortunately chillies won't grow at my place in winter. If I want chillies in winter I either have to buy them (and live with the guilt of "food miles"), or preserve some of my summer crop. As an absolute tight-arse, clearly preservation is my preferred option.

In this Instructable I will share my method for drying chillies. It's simple, free, and creates delicious and long-lasting dried chillies.

Step 1: What You Will Need

  • Chillies - Home-grown is always best, but if they are in season you can get usually them cheap from your grocer.
  • Tin Foil roughly shaped into the form of a low dish.
  • Two or three sunny days. The bluer the sky is the better (see picture).
  • A car. The car doesn't have to drive. Any car will do providing the glass is in tact and it's parked in the sun. A black car would probably be better than a white car, but I don't think the difference will be great. I'm using my 2003 silver Hilux - I love my Hilux.

Step 2: Method

Here's how I do it. If you have any improvements please share them in the comments.

  1. Get some chillies. I grew my own so I only needed to pick the lovely red ones off thier little bushes.
  2. Place the chillies in the foil dish.
  3. Make sure the car is parked in the sun.
  4. Place the foil dish of chillies on the dash board of the car.
  5. Wait. Depending on the weather this process may take two or three days or even longer. There is no harm in using the car at this time - just take care cornering or off-roading or your hard work might slide out the window.
  6. When the chillies are obviously dry and wrinkly, and crumble when you squeeze them, they are ready.
  7. Store in a cool, dry, dark place. Or in the freezer to be double sure.

You can use these in any recipe asking for dry chillies, they can be ground into flakes or powder, they can even be soaked in water to reconstitute them (sort of). I love to break a couple into noodle soup - Yum.

Step 3: Conclusion

I have used this technique a few time already this season with great results.

Last year I did the same thing with small tomatoes - I still have some left. They are beautiful added to a soup.

I think I will try some herbs next. I have lots of oregano and thyme.

I hope you have enjoyed my simple Instructable, and hope it has inspired someone to save food miles, reduce waste, and enjoy home-grown food.

If you have any questions or comments please post them. And if you try it yourself please share some pictures - especially if you use other fruits or vegetables, etc.

If you like this I'ble please vote in the contest.

If you would like to see more of my work please feel free to check out my website or my beautiful Etsy shop.

Step 4: An Interesting and Very Scary Side Note...

Just for curiosity I placed my cooking thermometer on the dash with the chillies. After a couple of hours I went back to check on progress and was shocked to discover that the temperature was a blistering 81 degrees C. For those used to impractical archaic units of measurement that is about 178 degrees Fahrenheit.

This on a 31C day (88F) at about noon.

As a parent, I consider this a terrifying reminder of the dangers of leaving children or pets in a car on a hot day. Nothing could survive that temperature for long - let alone a baby or small child strapped into a car seat. Please take care with your own car, and if you see any child locked in a hot car do whatever it takes to get them out - find the parent or even smash a window if you have to. Minutes or seconds could make all the difference.



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    11 Discussions


    2 years ago

    It has occurred to me that they would dry faster if the ends were cut off at the stalk. I think that would increase the surface area exposed to the air and speed the process up considerable.


    2 years ago

    Great idea.. I grew those that type a couple years back and they were excellent. Bad thing is that i can't remember the name of them. Do you know what the name of them are?

    4 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    Wouldn't happen to be Bird's Eye chillies? They look small like those.

    I share your strange passion for the burning searing pain that accompanies a deliciously spicy chilli. Also, the idea of saving $20/kg on chilli from Woolies/Coles (which is generally not even spicy) is one of the best reasons to grow our own.

    I've heard this method of drying chillies discussed before, but have yet to try it. I live in sunny QLD, so in summer when I was harvesting an awful lot of chillies from my plants, I would just lay them on a pizza tray in the sun to dry. Unfortunately, doesn't work so well when you don't have 40 degree C days. Other things I have noticed that sometimes works well for drying chillies is to leave them in the door of the fridge (in the little plastic lidded box on top shelf). For some odd reason my chillies always seem to dry out like crazy in there.

    I had plans to one day build myself a solar drying box (using a glass top), however it seems that this method is a lot simpler & more cost effective. Thanks for the share.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Chillies from the supermarket are usually very disappointing. Like tiny capsicums.


    Reply 2 years ago

    I think we can call the "bird's eye chillies". Anyway to misquote Shakespear.. a chilli by any other name would burn as hot.


    2 years ago

    Great Ible.They look like ripened Thai chilies to me.

    Anyhow, pic #3 in step 1 didn't upload correctly.

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks Bewangleon.
    Picture three in step one is a shot of the sky on a cloudless day. There's nothing to load except blue.


    2 years ago

    a friend of mine from india would soak the chilis in yogurt, then dry in the sun. repeating this several times. the end result was a dried chili you could eat as a snack.

    2 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    I've never heard of that before. What a great ?.