Hot out of the oven – home-dried Chillies

I went chilli crazy the last time I went to my favorite Asian supermarket ‘Korean Foods’ in New Malden. Not only did I buy chill oils and sauces I also bought a lot of fresh chillies. So the last couple of weeks most meals have been chill infused in one way or another and yet I still had a lot of fresh chillies left.

So I decided to give drying fresh chilli peppers a go. I had envisaged stringing them up to create a perfect chill rista, but no, that requires lots of sun and there’s no chance of that happening (not even in the summer here in London!). So oven drying it was and I’m pretty pleased with the result. So pleased, in fact, that I am considering planting chillies in my allotment this summer and hopefully have enough to make more of my own dried chilli powder. And with the mild weather we had in December I managed to clear another area of the overgrown part so I will have even more space for crops this year.

How to:

Preheat the oven to 70-80C/158-176F/Gas (below) 1/4

It does take about 10-12 hours, or even up to 24 hours if the chilli peppers are fleshy, so you will need to plan ahead!

Apparently this is the best drying temperature and I started out with 75C for about 4 hours. Then I turned the temperature up to 100C/212F/Gas 1/4 while I baked a batch of seed crackers. When the crackers were done I turned the temperature back to 75C. The cracker were in the oven for about 2 hours instead of the usual 60-75 minutes and it worked out fine and probably accelerated the drying process.

You can also cut the chillies in half  lengthways and remove the seeds before putting them in the oven. This will speed up the process but you will lose the heat and flavour from the seeds.

Start by washing the chilli peppers and remove which are damaged or show signs of dots (white, gray or black). Wash all of the good peppers making sure that you get all the dust or dirt of them and then dry them carefully.

Lay the peppers on a tray covered with baking paper and put them in the oven. Open the oven door from time to time to let out the excess water vapour and also to turn the peppers over – this will also help to speed up the drying process.

When the peppers are dry they will have turned a dark red colour (and feel crunchy to the touch) even if they started off green or yellow. 

When they have cooled down you can either blitz the peppers in a blender if you want a fine powder or put them in a bag and crush them with your hands for a more coarse mix.

Pour into a glass (ideally dark) with a tight seal and keep in a dark cupboard. If stored correctly the dried chillies can last a year.


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