Drying Chillies – How, What and Why

by Hot Juan on October 10, 2009 · 0 comments

in General Information

So you have been very successful growing chillies this year, lots of lovely chillies, but now what to do with them until you need to use them?

Drying Chillies - Borrowed Image

Drying Chillies - Borrowed Image

I have always liked to dry my chillies, and have in the past sold dehydrators for just that purpose, thick fleshed chillies are harder to dry than thin fleshed varieties, if you do not dry the correctly they can end up cooked or rot before they dry, while the thin fleshed ones I often find have dry before I have time to use them.

If you have a dehydrator you will need to set it to approx 55 C, I find it best to cut larges chillies either open to let the warm air in or cut them into slices, depending on what I am going to use them for. Last year I cut lots of Jalapenos in to 1 cm high rings and dried them in my dehydrator, I kept some as rings and the rest I crushed into flakes, I am still using them 12 months later, they taste great and add a real lift to my cooking.

Ezidri Dehydrator

Ezidri Dehydrator

If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can dry most chillies in a very low oven, you may have to leave the door just a little open to lower the temperature, I have found some ovens will not go low enough or they cycle up and down between cooking hot 70+ C and 45 C and this can cook you chillies before they dry, they will not keep as well if they are cooked. The best thing to do is to do a test with a few, if it does not work as well as expected just use them straight away.

I have seen good dehydrators made from a large woodern/cardboard box and a 60w bulb, you will find designs of the internet, small domestic dehydrators are always available on ebay, good brands to look for are Ezidri, Nesco and Excalibur.

Always select good firm, bright looking chillies reject any that are bruised or showing any signs of decay. It is hard to say how long it will take to dry chillies, but they should be hard and brittle when dry.  To test tear the flesh, there should be no noticeable moisture.

Dried chillies will keep well for 12 months in an airtight zipplock bag if you squeeze out the air before sealing, they should be stored in a cool, dark cupboard, you can also store you zipplocked dried chillies in the fridge or freezer (sounds odd freezing dried chillies, but they will keep for years and years this way without any freezer burn).

Chillies are approx 95% water before dehydrating so there is a lot of water to be released and Kg of chillies will reduce to just a few grams when dried.

When you rehydrate chillies, leave then in a bowl of warm water for a 20 mins before use, retain the water for use in the recipe if you can, it contains a lot of flavour.

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