Hot Pepper Preservation




Introduction: Hot Pepper Preservation

About: I'm a crafty dude with a lot of tools, a head full of knowledge, and a lot of time at home as a Stay at Home Dad to my amazing 7 year old son. I dig steampunk, cosplay, prop making, charcuterie, BBQing, col...

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!



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    40 Discussions

    I also have been dehydrating my Ghost Peppers, for the past three years. After dehydrating them I use an electric coffee bean grinder and place them in Mason jars with tight fitting lids! Last year's yield was about 3 gallon sized Ziplock bags full of the dried, whole pods. That translated into about 3-1/2 cups of ground, dried peppers. I use only a small fraction of that amount, and give the rest away to friends and coworkers.

    1 reply

    Put whole peppers on a cookie sheet and place them in a freezer until frozen hard. Then slide them off the cookie sheet into zip locking bags, with or without vacuum pumping the bags. Removing air will result in less frost inside the bags. Immediately refreeze the peppers in bags. Peppers frozen this way will be suitable for making salsa cruda all year. However, tomatoes are better if roasted and then frozen for use in a sauce that while not strictly fresh, makes nearly as good a substitute. We save Hatch peppers (the hot ones from New Mexico with excellent flavor, Habenero and other types we can grow, including the wild desert peppers, and the Manzano peppers (orange apple peppers we get from Mexico). The Hatch and Manzano peppers have a very short season. We don't mess with the Jalepeno or the Serano, for (1) I don't like them unless they are fully red ripe, and they have a long season in better California markets. Those that are turning from green to orange or red would suffice if they have not started to shrivel. Those varieties with the thinner pods respond well to drying in a smoker...I'd not suggest that with the Manzano peppers. A solar drier or an electric drier can be used on the thicker pod peppers, however.

    No excuse for eating second-rate peppers any time of the year! No excuse for serving those nasty slimy things called canned green chilies (won't name the O----- brand) any time! BTW, if you prefer to sweat the peppers and remove skins before you freeze them, that works well with all of those with thicker pods...but I don't find it necessary.

    I am dehydrating 3 dozen whole super-hot peppers; Trinidad Scorpion, Ghost and Carolina Reaper. The dehydrator is in my kitchen. The aroma is pungent but pleasant. My wife doesn't eat hot peppers but she told me she hardly notices the smell.

    Great instructable. I dehydrate a lot of my excess peppers. However i also have two other methods. I chop and then puree peppers in my blender and freeze the resulting slurry in ice cube trays, fantastic for cooking. I also run peppers thru my juicer and freeze the juice in thin sheets for later use.

    1 reply

    we did that with hatch peppers we grew and then smoked. we enjoyed those peppers for nearly 7 months from the freezer in cubes. :)

    I'll be going this, I usually pickle them, tiny bit of seasoning and garlic, malt vinegar... eat (they are chopped) them with a spoon. great to see this here too... fantastic sight.

    6 replies

    I pickle Jalapenos with carrot slices. You can also use baby carrots. I do the brine as I would for a Bread and Butter, but I include from 5-20 peppers slices into rings in the jars with the carrots. The carrots wind up being sweet fire treats, very spicy though so experiment how many peppers makes a good jar. I think it's somewhere between 4-6 peppers.

    Is that a brine of just salt and water or do you use anything like vinegar in your pepper pickling brine? I've used just water and salt along with an air lock in the lid to ferment/pickle jalapenos, and shishitos and mild hungarian peppers. I did a ton last year and they are still perfectly good in the fridge.

    It's white vinegar (apple cider is preferred but I was out), salt, sugar and pickling spice. It's a simplified version of Alton Brown's B&B recipe. You can add mustard seed and turmeric, but my pickling spice is loaded with mustard seeds, and turmeric is to add the yellow color.

    Thanks for the tip on the vinegar pickling brine. I haven't done much of that cos I usually just use water and salt. Somehow that makes the pickles tart. Fermentation is awesome, but some things might be good with a vinegar brine so I want to learn how to do it.

    just decide if you want a dill, sweet (bread n butter), or unflavored (no pickling spice) flavor. 'Refrigerator pickles' are a great starting point, but I miss those old NYC kosher dills.

    carrotts, perfect, the serious crunch with the zing of heat... and the sweetness of the carrot. thanks, another one for the list.

    I know you are supposed to use the freshest peppers you can, but in Ireland it's hard to grow a lot. I go to the OTT )on the turn) section and if there are peppers there I by them all and pickle them... I have not found any store bought product that comes even close to compare... and that is with about 4 ingredients.

    Nice looking habaneros! Mine are just in the seedling stage (I live in the southern hemisphere, actually in Chile, no pun intended)! Although I usually sun dry them, I´ll try your suggestions.

    2 replies

    I like to make chili oil out of the dried peppers. I crush them up and add them to a jar with grain alcohol (as close to 95-100% alcohol as I can find, it's called Everclear on the U.S. Market) and then after it soaks 7 days, reduce the alcohol down into capsicum oil. Great for making (hotter than hell) hot sauces.

    Yeah I made the mistake one year of running the dehydrator in my kitchen on a rainy day. Whoops. Couldn't even walk near the place for the tearing of the eyes. Wife was none too happy.

    1 reply