Your growing season went well in your veggie garden and your chili plants produced an abundant crop! Awesome! But now, what to do with all those excess chillies! Here are 4 ways to dry chillies, after you have used or sold as many as you can!
There are other ways of preserving chillies for later use, which you can read about in out post 6 Ways To Preserve Your Excess Chillies.
This article will be focusing on the drying method and in particular 4 ways to dry chillies.
Drying is a great way to preserve your excess chilli crop. Not all chillies are equal, however when it comes to drying. Scotch Bonnets, Bishops Hat, Habaneros and other fleshy varieties tend not to dry very well with the sun or air dry method.
There are other methods you can use for these varieties which we will discuss in our 4 ways to dry chillies.
4 Ways To Dry Chillies – Sun Dried Method
Sun drying is more suited to waxier chili varieties such as Birds Eye and Indian Peppers. Traditionally, chillies would be laid out in the sun to dry, giving warmth and ventilation, but this is not always possible in cooler regions.
Not all climates are suitable for the sun drying method. Colder or more humid climates can give you problems with mould. If your climate falls into one of these categories, rather use one of the last two methods out of the 4 ways to dry chillies, or a different preservation method altogether, such as pickling or preserving in oil!
There are two main factors to consider when drying chillies. They need to be kept warm and dry. The optimum drying temperature is about 25˚C (77 F).
If your temperature is warmer than this, the dried chillies can turn out to be crumbly or brittle. On the other hand, if the temperature is much cooler than this, there is a risk of the chillies becoming mouldy before they dry out.
The method for sun drying chillies is very basic.
- Rinse the chillies in salt water. This helps to prevent mould
- Place kitchen paper towel on a baking tray
- Spread the chillies out on the kitchen paper towel to absorb the moisture
- Place them in a warm sunny spot. A great loacation for this would be a greenhouse or a sunny windowsill.
- Turn the chillies regularly to ensure even drying
Once your chillies are dry, store them in whole in an airtight container. Another method would be to grind them into chili powder. You can use a pestle and mortar to do this, or a coffee grinder.
4 Ways To Dry Chillies – Air Dried Method
Air drying chillies is another method that requires a warm dry climate. This method is popular in Mexico and South America. Air drying is also widely used in the warmer southern European countries such as Spain, Italy and Greece.
The method is even easier than for sun dried chillies.
- Bunch the stems of a number of chillies together and tie them up with string.
- Don’t put too many chillies in one bunch as this will restrict air flow and your chillies will mould
- Tie multiple bunches and then tie the bunches to a long piece of string so your have bunches hanging vertically.
- These strings are called a Ristra. Hang your Ristra in a warm airy room. Near an open window would be good to promote good airflow.
- The chillies will dry in a week or two, depending on your climate.
4 Ways To Dry Chillies – Oven Dried Method
Oven drying your chillies is a good method to use if you have high humidity or want to dry your chillies quickly. Slicing the chillies lengthways in half will help them dry evenly.
Here are the easy to follow steps for oven drying your chillies.
- Wash the chillies
- Slice the chilies in half lengthwise.
- Lay them seed-side up on a baking sheet.
- Preheat you oven to 125 F (50 C) or your lowest setting.
- Place the baking tray with the chillies in the oven and leave for 3 to 4 hours or until dry
4 Ways To Dry Chillies – Dehydrator Dried Method
If you have a food dehydrator, you can use it to dry the chillies much quicker than most other methods. If you are living off grid, or don’t have ready access to electricity, why not try making your own dehydrator.
This can be a simple as making a wooden box with a sloping glass lid. A couple of ventilation holes, with mosquito netting to prevent unwanted guests will provide airflow.
Place your chillies on a baking rack in your home made dehydrator and place the dehydrator in the sun. The baking rack will allow air flow all around the chili peppers and promote quicker drying.
The sun will heat the air in the box and works on the same principle as using your stove oven, only the energy is free!
If you have any other drying methods that we have not mentioned, feel free to leave them in the comments!
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