I have been asked many times about my homemade spices. Here is the one that started them for me. I love to garden and enjoy growing peppers, but often have to many to eat fresh. I decided to start drying them by accident one time by a few of the hot ones drying up on there own. The smoked flavor came later after I decided to roast them over an open flame and let them sit for a few hours near the smoldering coals. Hickory I find to be the best, alongside hard maple.
Step 1: Step One: Grow the Peppers
Homemade and home grown here! Peppers in season are the best flavor, if you don't have a garden, do yourself a favor and find a farmers market or some place that brings them in fresh and in season.
Step 2: Step 2: Roast Peppers Over Wood Fire Grill.
You want to roast the peppers before you let them smoke. All varieties of peppers roast a little different. With meaty peppers like poblanos, Anaheim, jalapeÃ±o or bells (not recommended because they really don't add much for flavor) you want to turn the skin black but not char the meat. The thin walled hot peppers seem to go very quick and sometimes even completely dry out to a crisp in the smoke. You want to watch them and rotate as needed. As said before I like the hickory or hard maple the best for the smoke flavor. You see them here in my wood grill/ smoker. I like to keep one side as indirect heat so I have full control over the temp.
Step 3: Step 3: Let Them Smoke.
Let the flames die down and smolder adding chunks (not chips) to the coals only as often as needed to keep it from going out. I find placing a large chunk on the coals will smoke for a good while before it starts to catch fire. You do want to watch for open flames and all peppers should be in an indirect heat zone. If you get flames spray them out with a spray bottle of water and close the lid quickly and the combo of water and smoke will choke out the flame. I watch it for about 2 hrs. I find this step to be good after having cooked a nice BBQ dinner and roasting an smoking while the wood grill is starting to wind down
Step 4: Step 4: Dry Them...
Hot peppers will dry on there own in a window, but meaty peppers need some help! I have used the oven set at 170F but it uses too much energy and 170 is a little too hot, but can work if that's all you have. I invested in a dehydrator last year and it has become one of my favorite kitchen appliances (riveted only by our vacuum sealer). I arrange them on trays and set the temp to 125F and it will take a few days. You want to make sure no part of the pepper is still mushy.
Step 5: Step 5: Grind Them.
I have a coffee grinder that I use only for spices. Break the pieces up small enough to fit in the grinder, keeping the seeds an removing the stems. Grind I to a fine powder, my grinder is cheap to say the least and I have to give it a few shakes along the way to help it grind. Every time I change a spice mixture I rinse the grinder and cover them grind rice to fully clean.
Step 6: Step 6: Store and Enjoy!
To store them I have used ziplocks, washed and reused spice jars or store bought empty spice jars. I save the new jars for friends and family. There are so many uses for this spice, the smokey flavor an heat comes through ketchup, BBQ sauce, dips, salsas, chili... You name it.