In an earlier post, Dehydrating 101, I shared the basics of drying or dehydrating food. Think of this as a Lab to go with that “class.”
Peppers of all varieties can be dehydrated following the process we’ll discuss here.
The pictures all show green bell peppers, but it doesn’t matter what color or type of pepper you are drying, they are all processed the same.
Prepare the Peppers
Make sure to thoroughly wash peppers. I set them in a colander to drain and dry as I process them for dehydrating. The drier they are when you put them on the trays, the faster they will dehydrate.
You’ll want to remove the stem and seeds while preserving as much of the flesh of the pepper as possible. This is easier to do on larger peppers than smaller ones.
If working with hot peppers, make sure to wear gloves and keep your hands away from your face and eyes.
Peppers can be sliced, diced, or left whole (for smaller peppers) for dehydrating. It really depends on how you are going to use them. I like to have foods stored in various forms so that I have variety when it comes time to use them.
When preparing your sections for the chopper, make sure to cut out any bad spots, and remove any dirt that got missed in the washing process.
I like my peppers mainly in dices, so I cut them into chunks and then run them through my vegetable chopper/dicer.
Make sure that the pieces fit within the cutting area to minimize waste and keep your chopper from getting clogged with pepper pieces.
My chopper comes with attachments to dice in two sizes, as well as cut into strips.
Any of these options will work.
Remember, the object is to get the pieces as uniform in size and shape as possible so that they will dry evenly.
When dealing with peppers, especially the parts from the top and bottom, the pieces may be thicker than the sides.
You can either slice them into thinner sections, or chop them as they are.
I usually chop them as is and just deal with a few pieces that are a little thicker.
I process 2 – 3 peppers at a time, depending on their size.
Once the chopper bottom container is full, I empty it and start on the next few peppers.
You can see here the relatively uniform size of the pepper dices.
There will be a few pieces that are smaller, but that’s OK.
This is about how much I put on one tray.
Spread them out in an even layer with no overlap for faster drying.
You can kick the flavor up a notch by roasting the peppers, especially hot peppers, under the broiler in the oven until charred. Let them rest for 10 minutes, then peel, stem and seed before slicing and dehydrating.
Prepare the Trays
Prepare your dehydrating trays with some sort of liner to keep the smaller pieces from dropping through the holes on the trays.
This picture shows how they were spread on a tray in a single layer. Some of the areas where they are more clumped together may not dry as fast, especially with the non-stick sheets.
Some options for lining trays are:
- Non-stick Teflon Sheets
- Small-holed plastic mesh (like the kind used for needlepoint – washed of course)
- Parchment paper (DO NOT use Waxed Paper – the heat will melt the wax) I buy my parchment paper from a restaurant supply store in 1000 sheet boxes for full sheet pans. This lets me cut them to whatever size I like. Parchment is available in sheets or rolls in a variety of sizes and can be found in your local grocery store.
Most of these options are reusable. I would not try to reuse the parchment paper. Things to consider when choosing a tray liner include how much air flow they allow, how easy they are to clean, and how easily they will fit in your dehydrator.
Many foods will stick to the tray or liner once they are dry. I have found that the Teflon sheets release the dried food better than other options.
I have primarily used the non-stick Teflon sheets, but I like the idea of the plastic mesh canvas.
Plastic mesh canvas allows greater airflow from top to bottom. This is especially important in a dehydrator with the fan on the bottom.
The cheesecloth also has possibilities, but it is harder to wash and reuse. I feel that some foods stick to it more than others.
Once your trays are full, load your dehydrator with the bulk of your trays directly in front of the fan, if possible.
I usually get 2 peppers per tray. This picture represents 16 bell peppers.
Peppers do not need any preparation (like blanching) other than a good washing to remove dirt.
Dry peppers at 125° for 8 to 10 hours in a dehydrator.
If using an oven, dry them at 135° for 10 to 12 hours.
When dry, they should have shrunk considerably in size and be brittle. The skin may still seem a little shiny and smooth.
Notice in this picture, most of the peppers are small and wrinkly, but some still look plump. The plump pieces are not dry. I had several pieces that weren’t dry on each tray, so I rotated the trays (top/bottom to middle; turned front to back). I then put them back in for a few more hours.
Once they are cool, put them in an airtight container as soon as possible to keep them dry.
If you are planning to use the green peppers in a dish that has lots of water, i.e. soups, stews, chili, etc., there is no need to rehydrate them first, just toss them in.
If you want to use them in a dish that doesn’t have as much liquid, you can rehydrate the peppers first.
1 cup of dried peppers + 2 cups of water = 2 1/2 cups of peppers.
For more quantities, you can check out the rehydration tables in Rehydration Calculations Made Easy, by Wanda Bailey Clark.
You’ll want to use hot water as it helps the peppers rehydrate faster. Generally, you’ll want to use 1 part peppers to 2 parts hot water. It will take roughly 20 minutes for the peppers to fully rehydrate.
You’re not limited to using just water to rehydrate, either. You can rehydrate with broth or stock to add a slightly different taste that will complement your final dish.
Once the peppers are plump and rehydrated, they can be drained in a colander and added as if they were fresh.
Many of the hotter pepper varieties are actually used in a powdered form instead of whole. These peppers, such as chili, jalapeño, Anaheim, Serrano, ghost peppers, and many more, can be dried until they are very brittle and ground into a powder.
If drying hot peppers, move your dehydrator to a porch, patio, or other well ventilated area away from your main living quarters, otherwise your house will feel like you released pepper spray.
The seeds of chili peppers will add heat to the final product. If you want a hotter powder, leave the seeds in and dehydrate whole. If you want a milder powder, de-seed prior to drying. In either case, remove the stem prior putting it in the dehydrator.
If you have a high powered blender, you can use it to grind the peppers into a powder. As an alternative, a coffee grinder, spice grinder, or mortar and pestle can be used instead. I wouldn’t use a mortar and pestle for any large quantity.
Grind hot peppers outside in a well ventilated area.
If you are making a powder, all utensils and equipment must be completely dry with no traces of moisture. I use a small flat paintbrush that I only use for dehydrated foods to brush all of the powder out of the grinder or blender cup.
Powders will be warm after the grinding process and may stick together a bit until they are cool. Break apart the clumps and let it cool. If after the powder is cool, the clumps return again, the powder may need to be dried some more.
This can be done on a tray in the oven. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Spread the powder as evenly as possible on the parchment. Let it dry in the oven for an hour or two with just the light bulb on to generate a little bit of heat.
Once it is dry, put it in a jar and condition it like any other dehydrated food.
If you plan to store the powders in jars and wish to vacuum seal them, you will need to cover the powder with a circle of coffee filter material before putting the lid on the jar. This will keep the powder from being sucked up into the machine.
If your powder is dry and still has clumps, you can add a small amount of cornstarch or arrowroot powder to separate the particles and keep them from clumping. Start with 1 tsp per pint and adjust as necessary.
Pepper Dehydrating At A Glance
|Preparation||Sliced, Diced, Whole (small peppers)|
|Dehydrator Settings||125° for 8-10 hours|
|Oven Settings||135° for 10-12 hours|
|Rehydration||1 C dried peppers : 2 C water|
Check out my other dehydrating how-to posts and let me know what you think.
What have you dehydrated before? How well did that work out for you?What would you like to learn how to do? Leave a comment below or reach out on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.