Those peppers that you left lying on the counter for a few weeks because you had so many and didn’t know what to do with them… what should you do with them? Don’t throw them away just because they have shriveled a bit. Let them continue to dry, or speed up their drying, and let’s make chile pepper powder!
When I started writing this post I kept changing the spelling from chile to chili and back again to chile. I finally decided to look it up… Chile powder is ground chile peppers. Chili powder is a blend of seasonings made up of chile powder, cumin, salt, oregano, peppercorns, and other spices. So. There’s our language and spelling and cooking lessons for today!
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So. If unlike me, you DIDN’T leave your peppers laying on the kitchen counter and accidentally end up with dried peppers, you can dry your fresh peppers in a dehydrator, or in the oven on a very low temperature, or air dry as I did.
Once your peppers are completely dry and crunchy to the touch, they are ready to be ground into powder. Test them by pinching them between your fingers. They should crumble easily.
TIP: Thin Skinned peppers work better than thick skinned. The jalapenos tended to rot before getting dry using the air dry method because of their thick skin. The cayenne peppers and the tabasco peppers air dry easily.
CayenneDiane has some specific information on drying peppers for those of you that don’t want to just let them lay on your kitchen counter for a couple of months like me.
First you will need to remove the stem. You should be able to just break it off and throw it in your compost pile. Or use your kitchen shears to cut them off.
Dump the loose seeds out of the pod. You won’t want them in your powder. A light tap on the pod will help to dislodge any seeds that might be stuck in there. It’s okay if a few make it through. Keep the seeds. That’s what is in the pepper shaker on your favorite pizza restaurant table! Put them in a shaker with large holes and serve on pizza night!
Cut the larger pepper pods into smaller pieces. This will speed up the grinding process and create less jams in your processor.
TIP: Wear gloves. Even dried, the peppers will leave a burning oil. Don’t touch your face with your gloves either!
Mortar & Pestle
If you want to try it the old fashioned way and grind some by hand using a mortar and pestle, try placing a strainer inside of your mortar and grind a small amount of peppers at a time. The very thin skinned peppers work the best and they need to be completely crunchy dry.
I gave this a try and honestly, it didn’t work very good. I quickly gave up and went to my blender.
TIP: Breathing the pepper made me sneeze. Try to keep it at a distance from your face or wear a mask.
TIP: Do not open the blender attachment immediately after processing. Let it sit for a couple of minutes to allow the “dust” to settle. It can burn your nose if you open it to0 quickly and breathe a cloud of pepper.
Once you have processed the peppers, pour them into the strainer. The powder will go through and the remains in the strainer can go into your pepper flakes jar for your pizzas.
After straining the powder, bottle it up!
FRESH chile powder!