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Saturday, October 1, 2011

How to Oven Dry/Dehydrate Cayenne Peppers from the Garden (In Pictures)


Cayenne peppers have grown extremely well for me in Maryland, every year, for the last 10 years. Just plant and forget them. Neglect them. They grow and grow. I planted 2 plants this year and somewhere around mid September when I got my garden interest back, I found 100's of red cayennes. What to do? Oven dry them for crushed red pepper of course. I needed something to compliment all my frozen heirloom tomato sauce. The process of oven drying/dehydrating cayenne peppers is easy. I'll keep the blog entry short and sweet.


Red Cayenne Peppers: Gary Pilarchik

The first step is to grow two or more cayenne pepper plants and let the peppers turn red. You can see I collected a pretty large bowl of cayenne peppers. They do get a bit sweeter when they turn red from green.


Picked Cayenne Pepper for Oven Drying/Dehydration: Gary Pilarchik

Wash the peppers if you are concerned. I didn't wash mine. Set the peppers up on foil, spaced out like you see. You do not want them touch too much. It slows the drying process. And the process already takes 6-8 hours. To prepare the peppers, you need to break the stem tips off as below. You do not want dried stems in your crushed red pepper.


Remove the Stems for Oven Drying: Gary Pilarchik
Cayenne Peppers Ready for Drying: Gary Pilarchik

Most oven drying recipes state you should dry vegetables at about 130-140 degrees. I would agree that is good  temperature for vegetables and herbs. Too much heat can cook them or remove oils. If you are drying green beans, squash or kale (for example) , you would want the lower temperatures. For hot cayenne peppers, I feel 175 degrees is fine. Any higher and they will cook. Somewhere between my temperature and theirs is probably just right. My finished product tastes great and has no over cooked taste to it. So for me, 175 degrees.


Half Oven Dried Cayenne Peppers: Gary Pilarchik

The process is low and slow. About 6 to 8 hours slow.  Above are the cayenne pepper halfway through the dehydration process. Below are the dried cayennes at around 7 hours. You can mix and move the cayennes every 2 hours or so, to help with drying. I recommend you dry them on foil. Don't use oil, or seasoning or anything. Just let them dehydrate and dry.


Fully Oven Dried Cayenne Peppers: Gary Pilarchik

Once completely dried, they will crumble when you crush them. You might want to use gloves when you crush any hot pepper. Whatever body part you touch after crushing the cayennes will feel the heat. SO beware!


Oven Dried Cayenne Peppers Become Crushed Red Pepper: Gary Pilarchik
Garden Fresh Crushed Red Cayenne Pepper: Gary Pilarchik

About 7 hours later and a Summer's growth of cayenne peppers and I have an ample supply of crushed red cayenne peppers to compliment the sauce I made with all  my heirloom tomatoes. Try it! Crushed red cayenne pepper beats any store bought brand.


Crushed Cayenne Red Pepper for the Win: Gary Pilarchik

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