Image by Ana Ulin
By Bonnie L. Grant
Whether you planted hot, sweet or bell peppers, the end of season bumper crop is often more than you can use fresh or give away. Putting up or storing produce is a time honored tradition and one which encompasses many methods. Drying peppers is a good and easy method of how to store peppers for months. Let’s learn how to store peppers by drying to keep the delicious fruits well past the season.
How To Dry Hot Peppers
Peppers can be dried without any previous treatment but they increase in flavor and are safer if you give them a quick blanche before you dry them. Dip them into boiling water for four minutes and then quickly chill the fruit in an ice bath. Dry them off and you can begin whatever drying process you chose.
You can also remove the skin if you wish which will decrease the drying time. To remove the skins, the fruit is blanched for six minutes and chilled. The skin will peel right off.
You can also roast them over a flame until the skin curls and then peel the pepper. Use gloves when handling hot peppers to prevent transferring the oils to your skin.
It is no secret how to dry hot peppers or even sweet ones. There are several methods of drying. You can use a dehydrator, mesh or wire racks, hang them, oven dry or just lay them on the counter in very arid climates. You can cut the flesh into 1-inch pieces and it will dry more quickly. Then you can crush or grind the dried flesh.
Hot peppers have much of their heat in the seeds. You need to decide whether to leave the seeds in the peppers or remove them. The seeds have the highest levels of capsicum, which produces the heat. The peppers are more palatable and easier to use if you remove the seed and ribs inside but if you like extra heat, the seeds can be left in.
Drying peppers whole is the fastest and simplest way. The process requires no preparation except washing the fruit. But, be aware that drying peppers whole takes longer than drying split fruits and must be done where it is very dry or they will mold or rot before they dry completely. To dry the peppers without cutting them, simply string them on some twine or thread and hang them up in a dry location. They will take several weeks to completely dry.
The seeds may also be dried separately and used as chili seeds that are ground or used whole.
Drying hot peppers intensifies their heat, so keep that in mind when using the preserved fruit.
Storing Chili Peppers
All your hard work will go to waste if you don’t know how to store peppers properly. They must not be stored in a humid area, where there is moisture. The dry peppers will absorb that moisture and partially rehydrate which opens up the potential of mold. Use moisture barrier plastic when storing chili peppers. Keep them in a cool, dark place.