If you love dehydrating food like I do then you’ll know from your own experience how rewarding it is, not to mention all the benefits that come from dehydrating your own food. It means that you get to enjoy seasonal foods throughout the year and it usually saves you money in the long run. In addition to this, it’s a fun way to prepare food ahead of time.
Dehydrating peppers is way easier than you may have imagined and the entire process can be done within a day. You’ll get to enjoy your dehydrated peppers by making hot sauce, homemade salsa recipes or any kind of Mexican-inspired dish that calls for a slight kick.
While this article focuses on dehydrating peppers, if you are new to dehydrating and are looking for a good resource to better understand how to start, have a read of Dehydrating 101: Beginners Guide To Dehydrating.
In this article, you will find:
- Step by step directions to dehydrate peppers
- How to prepare your peppers for dehydration
- The time it takes to dehydrate peppers
- How to store dehydrated peppers
- How to rehydrate your dried peppers
- Ways to enjoy your dehydrated (and rehydrated) peppers
STEP BY STEP DIRECTIONS TO DEHYDRATE PEPPERS
While the rest of this article goes into greater length about the various stages of properly dehydrating peppers and the ways that you can enjoy them, let’s first get an overview of the exact steps you should take if you want to dehydrate peppers.
- Prepare your workspace and ensure that you are working in a clean environment with clean surfaces, equipment and tools
- Wash and pat dry your whole peppers
- Put on latex or vinyl gloves before you start to work with your peppers. This is to avoid moisture being transferred from your hands to the food but also to protect you from the potential burning sensation that you may experience when handling raw peppers with bare hands.
- Preheat your dehydrator to 125F to allow good airflow through the dehydrator which will eliminate any existing contaminants that may be present
- Remove the seeds in your peppers and then dice them into uniformly sized pieces so that they dehydrate evenly
- Place your pepper pieces on a tray or trays with equal spacing – overcrowded trays may lead to your peppers requiring a longer dehydration time. It really depends on how many you plan dehydrating at one time.
- Place the trays in the preheated dehydrator which is to remain at 125F for 12 – 24 hours. The time will depend on certain external factors too which are listed in this article.
- Once the dehydrating time is up, allow your pepper pieces to sit for 5 – 10 minutes.
- Once cooled, if you are uncertain as to whether your pepper pieces are dehydrated properly, touch to test for any remaining moisture or place a few in a sealed zip lock bag for a little while to see whether any moisture has been released through condensation. If yes, dehydrate for longer. If not, then store in a vacuumed sealed bag with a Mylar bag or in a mason jar to add to future recipes!
Now that you have a good overview of the steps required to dehydrate your peppers, let’s pay some attention to the details of the entire dehydration process right up to storage and possible rehydration.
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR PEPPERS FOR DEHYDRATION
While many who are not entirely familiar with dehydrating food may think that it’s just a matter of slicing food and adding it to a dehydrator, there are in fact a few vital steps that need to take place in preparation for dehydrating your peppers to ensure the best possible result.
WAYS TO PREPARE PEPPERS FOR DEHYDRATION
#1. Practice Good Hygiene
I’m sure we’re all accustomed to cleaning the surfaces of our kitchen well and regularly and keeping it a generally clean environment but it’s worth mentioning as any contaminant that touches your pepper pieces or gets into your dehydrator could affect the longevity of your dried peppers, not to mention that it’s an issue of health and safety!
#2. Wear Gloves When Handling Your Peppers
Try to avoid touching your peppers with bare hands while dicing and preparing them. This isn’t only to prevent oil and moisture from our hands transferring to the food but will also protect you from any burning. A great way to remedy these two issues is to wear latex or vinyl gloves when preparing and handling your peppers.
#3. Preheat Your Dehydrator
As you would preheat an oven, so too you should warm up your dehydrator prior to introducing your pepper pieces as good initial airflow in the dehydrator will help to eliminate any possible contaminants.
THE TIME IT TAKES TO DEHYDRATE PEPPERS
As with anything that you want to dehydrate, it’s essential that you dehydrate it well in order to avoid residual moisture that can cause the food to spoil as a result of bacteria and rot setting in.
In fact, it’s better to overdry than under dry. You should always aim to get rid of 95% or more of the total moisture in an item of food. Anything less than this will shorten the shelf life of the food and potentially cause it to spoil before you’ve had the chance to enjoy it.
The amount of time it will take to dehydrate peppers can be anything from 12 to 24 hours at 125F. With that said, there are external factors that could also affect the dehydrating time of your peppers such as:
- The humidity level in your area and house where the dehydration is taking place;
- The size of your diced peppers;
- Whether you have crowded you dehydrator tray with pepper pieces or spread them out with room to spare; and
- The type of dehydrator you use and the position of its fan. I’ve already mentioned this in another article, but it’s worth mentioning again – dehydrators with a fan located at the back tend to do better than those with a fan fixed at the top or bottom, especially if you have two trays occupying space as the second lower tray will always block flow to the first tray.
And if you ever have the urge to speed up the dehydration process by increasing the heat, try to restrain yourself. It’s far better to allow for longer dehydrating times to ensure adequate dehydration than rushing things and ending up with “case hardening” (where your pepper is dry and hard on the outside but is still moist on the inside).
If, at the end of your dehydration time, you are not sure whether you’ve reached the 95% stage, make use of one or both of these tests that will help you to detect whether your pepper pieces have any remaining moisture:
- After 5 – 10 minutes of allowing your pepper pieces to sit after dehydration, check for any sticky or moist texture. If the peppers are even slightly sticky or moist then it means that they need a longer time in your dehydrator.
- After allowing your pepper pieces to cool once dehydration time is done, place a few in a sealed zip lock bag and return a little later to check for any moisture that would have resulted in condensation. If this has occurred then your pepper pieces are not adequately dehydrated and require additional time in the dehydrator.
HOW TO STORE DEHYDRATED PEPPERS
Once you’ve dehydrated your peppers and are happy that no hidden moisture remains, we then turn to the storage stage of the dehydrated peppers.
Believe it or not but dehydrated foods can last anywhere between 3 years to 20 years and beyond if they are properly dehydrated and stored in a cool, dry place.
WHERE TO STORE YOUR DEHYDRATED PEPPERS
With any dehydrated food, location for storage is vitally important. Your dehydrated peppers need a cool, dry place that is free from potential pests such as rodents and bugs and has a good level of cleanliness.
Since moisture and sunlight are the main culprits for degrading dehydrated foods, it makes sense that the location of storage, as well as the storage containers/bags themselves, need to be as free from these two elements as possible.
Common places to store dehydrated peppers include your kitchen, pantry or any other area of your house that is cool, dry and has little sunlight infiltrating the space. This could be your basement or another area I haven’t mentioned. Wherever you decide to store your dehydrated peppers, make sure that they are not sitting close to any household equipment such as dryers or dishwashing machines that emit moisture through condensation.
SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT TO STORE DEHYDRATED PEPPERS
To help your dehydrated peppers have a long shelf life, it’s best to use the following storage supplies and equipment:
- Sealable vacuum bags using a double-bagging process (for long-term storage);
- Glass jars (typically for shorter-term storage);
- Food grade storage buckets (medium to long-term storage) which I doubt you’ll use for peppers alone but you could add them sealed in a bag with other dried items in the bucket.
Let’s have a look at these 3 main storage supplies and equipment:
Vacuum and Mylar Bags
I would recommend using this kind of storage for your dehydrated pepper pieces if you want a long shelf life of a couple of years. It involves vacuum sealing the pepper pieces in a vacuum bag together with oxygen absorber sachets and then placing your vacuum bag inside a heat-sealed Mylar bag (known as “double-bagging”).
The vacuum bag with vacuum seal helps to remove any remaining oxygen which is important as oxygen degrades food over time. The double-bagging system using the Mylar bag is to reduce heat and keep out sunlight due to its reflective material.
Glass Jars like mason jars are also great options for storing dehydrated peppers but will usually offer shorter-term storage owing to the fact that they don’t block out as much light as the double-bagging process above and as already mentioned, the light slowly degrades food over time.
Food Grade Storage Buckets
This option is good when it comes to storing large amounts of a particular dehydrated food so I doubt that you’ll opt for this one although it’s worth mentioning since you may decide to store your dehydrated peppers with other separated and sealed food items.
If you do use this storage method, be sure to only opt for food-grade plastics as ordinary plastic buckets will leak chemicals into the food from the plastics used.
Make sure that the lid on the bucket can be sealed or closed tightly and add oxygen absorbers to your bucket if you’ve stored the food in sealed bags within the bucket. It’s also a good idea to swap out your current bucket for a new one at any sign of deterioration i.e. the lid is not tight anymore or the bucket has already been used for a couple of years.
Having properly dehydrated and stored your pepper pieces, you can expect your dried peppers to last for quite a few years when vacuumed sealed or between six months to one year if stored in a mason jar. With this said, it should be noted that dried peppers will lose flavor the longer they are kept so it’s best not to overboard with storing your peppers for something like 3 years or more even though they can technically last for much longer!
HOW TO REHYDRATE YOUR DRIED PEPPERS
There are two main methods for rehydrating dehydrated peppers:
The first method involves dry roasting your peppers in a saucepan which blisters the peppers and removes the skin. This method will also provide a greater depth of flavor in your rehydrated peppers.
The second, easier method simply involves adding hot water to your peppers (a sufficient amount to cover your peppers) and allowing it to sit for a minimum of 30 minutes or longer till they are fully rehydrated.
In addition to these two methods of rehydration above, if you are planning on making a slow cooker dish that incorporates dried peppers, you can simply add your dehydrated peppers straight into the slow cooker as they will absorb sufficient moisture for full rehydration during the slow cooking process!
WAYS TO ENJOY YOUR DEHYDRATED PEPPERS
There are so many ways that you can enjoy your dehydrated peppers. I’ve put a few delicious ideas below for you to consider:
- Make delicious hot sauces from your rehydrated peppers that you can add to various pasta dishes, tacos and other Mexican-inspired recipes;
- Store your dehydrated pepper pieces in a mason jar and decorate the jar with fancy ribbon and a gift tag as a present or house warming gift. To add a special touch, attach a recipe that calls for dried peppers;
- Make spicy chili powders from dehydrated peppers that can be added to an array of recipes that require a bit of a kick. Believe it or not but some chili powders are brilliant additions to decadent desserts like chocolate brownies!
Adding dried peppers to your pantry stock is a must! They are incredibly versatile additions to most dishes that require a bit of heat or spicy flavor through either ground seasoning or hot sauces. They can also easily be thrown in (while being whole and still dehydrated) your slow cooker with the other slow cooker meal ingredients.
Dehydrating your peppers allows you to have a readily available supply of peppers throughout the year. It’s a great way to meal prep for recipes that call for dried peppers or to rehydrate to make into hot sauces for casseroles, pasta and more.
What flavorful dishes have you managed to make with your dehydrated (or rehydrated) peppers? Let me know how it went – I’d love to hear from you.