Harvest season is upon us here in Utah, so I’ve been pretty busy preserving the harvest. This year I grew pepper plants from seed and have LOTS of peppers in my garden. Some are hot and some are mild. This is a good thing if you like peppers a lot, but I do not. Thankfully my husband does, but even a pepper lover like him can only eat so many peppers. So what do we do with all those peppers? We eat a few, put a few in salsa, and save the rest for later by dehydrating them.
Peppers are one of the easier foods to dehydrate as they don’t take a lot of prep work before they go in the dehydrator. You can dehydrate mild or hot peppers–just make sure and label what they are when you finish so you don’t get them mixed up!
To dry peppers, first wash them and slice them. I like to take the seeds out of the mild peppers and slice them in rings or small pieces. The hot peppers I leave the seeds in and slice in rings. I also like to wear gloves when I’m working with hot peppers so I can take my contacts out at night without burning my eyes–trust me, the gloves are a good thing. Remember your finished product will be significantly smaller than what you start with, so don’t cut the pieces too small or they’ll fall through the dehydrator screen by the time they’re done drying. You could just slice them in half and lay the whole big piece on the dehydrator also, it would just take longer to dry and not be quite as easy to use later. Put your pepper pieces on the dehydrator tray and dry for 4 hours or so at 125 degrees. Dry the peppers until they are brittle. The less moisture left in them, the longer they will store.
Once the peppers are dry, put them in an airtight container or vacuum pack them until you’re ready to use them. They can be rehydrated and used in soups or casseroles, or ground up into pepper flavored dust (like chili powder) that can be added to whatever you’re cooking to give it a little pepper flavor. Dried peppers store well, and are very compact. My full dehydrator (9 trays of pepper slices) filled about 1 1/4 pint jars after they dried. Remember to label what kind of pepper it is–they all look kind of the same after they are dehydrated.
So there you have it. A fantastic, easy way to preserve all those extra peppers you grew this year so you can enjoy them all year long.