Dehydrate super hot peppers for powder and long-term storage

super-hot-peppersI had a prolific super hot pepper season.  This was my first time growing some of the hottest peppers in the world.  I grew varieties like the Trinidad Scorpion, Bhut Jolokia, and Fatalii.  Along with those I had a good selection of Dorset Nagas, Trinidad 7 Pods, and Trinidad Douglahs too.  The end result of this bumper crop is a freezer stuffed full of vacuum packed peppers and a pantry stacked high with evil pepper sauce concoctions.  I’ve been lacking on drying peppers for flakes and powder though…time to remedy that.


I love the web site thehotpepper.  The forums there are a wealth of information on growing and storing extremely hot peppers.  After studying the “Test Kitchen” forum for drying info I decided I needed a food dehydrator.  The consensus was that the best combination of quality, features, and price was the Nesco FD-80A Square-Shaped Dehydrator. My new Nesco arrived from Amazon 4 days ago and it’s been running non-stop since then.

nesco-fd80-dehydratorLow and slow is the mantra for dehydrating peppers.  The Nesco FD-80 has an adjustable thermostat that can be set anywhere between 95F and 160F.  While the dehydrator manual states 140F for 20 hours for peppers, the dehydrator gurus recommend temps from 90F to 110F for several days to preserve the rich pepper colors and amazing flavors.  When drying in the lower temperature range the seeds remain viable for planting as well.  I cut my first batch of peppers into halves and dried them at 105F for 84 hours to get the crisp texture I was looking for.

I have to mention the aroma the peppers give off.  Some people claimed it would send wives and children running like sprayed protestors at a rally.  I thought the smell was amazing though…smoky, peppery goodness filled the house.  I wish Glade made a “Fiery Pepper” Plug-In.  I would dry peppers if all I got was the smell.

super-hot-peppers-dehydratorAfter the drying process was over it was time to consider storage.  I wanted a handy way to grind fresh pepper flakes on demand and shakable super hot pepper powder.  I repurposed a few household items and I’m satisfied with the results.

For the pepper flakes I used a few McCormick spice grinders I already had in the cabinet.  They’re designed to be disposable, but it doesn’t take much effort to defeat the protection scheme.  Just sandwich the top of the grinder between your sneaker and the seat of a chair.  Give the glass base a firm wiggle and it should pop right off.  I loaded my newly reusable grinder with some dried pepper halves and broke them up a bit with a few pokes of a chopstick.  The grinder even has adjustable coarseness.  A pepper fueled endorphin rush is just a few grinder turns away.


A coffee grinder is the choice of many for turning your pepper pods to powder.  Once your grinder gets inundated with super hot pepper powder you’re probably never going to be able to use it again for making grandma a nice cup of afternoon coffee.  She’d be clicking her medic alert button like a contestant on Jeopardy.  I wanted a multi-tasking solution.  Conveniently the thread pattern on your blender accommodates a standard mason jar.  You can pulverize your peppers right in the jar you’re going to store them in.

super-hot-pepper-powderI’m pleased with my pepper dehydrating experience.  I see many more drying sessions ahead.  I hear frozen peppers dry quicker than fresh, so I’m going to free up a lot of space in the freezer by turning them into powder too.  The best part is I have enough incendiary pepper delivery systems at hand to keep me warm all winter.  I think I’m going to go sprinkle some of my special powder around the trash cans…might never see those raccoons again.

10 thoughts on “Dehydrate super hot peppers for powder and long-term storage

  1. I’m so glad I found your blog! We also had a bumper crop of hot pepper this year. After making several jars of pepper relish we decided to buy a dehydrator. We bought the Redhead brand sold by Bass Pro Shop. It claims whole hot peppers will dry in 6-12 hours. Mine have been in there 36 hrs now. I was happy to see that out took you several days to dry your peppers. I am still wondering if I should take them out and cut them though!

  2. If you are dehydrating super hot peppers in a dehydrator can the dehydrator ever be used for anything else? Or like the coffee grinder is it now only for peppers?

    • You can absolutely use your dehydrator for anything else after drying hot peppers. You will still smell the drying pepper smell for the next couple of rounds, though; even if you’ve got it loaded up with peaches. The reason you can’t reuse a coffee grinder for coffee is that, regardless of your diligence in cleaning the powdered doom out, you will NEVER get it all. This is a boon if you use your coffee grinder for pulverizing spices for Indian dishes, though ~ you’ll get an extra kick in your masala for zero effort.

      • Exactly as LazyBiology said…the plastic of the dehydrator trays will give up the pepper oil after a good wash and a drying cycle…as will the simple blade and container of your blender. A coffee grinder is more of a taster’s museum of coffee’s past. Every grind adds to the seasoning like an old iron skillet. I know coffee connoisseurs who highly value their grinders for the caliber of coffee particles that hide in the deep dark crevices and cogs of the mechanism. I have also found that coffee grinders make a very poor margarita. The blender wins.


  3. I cut my peppers in half and keep the seeds and center with them; (it’s the hottest part). It takes at least 5 days, rotating 5 trays to dry. This year I have 13 plants, 5-6 ft tall. I have Butch “T”s, Yellow Ghost, Taz Habanero, Naga Viper, Yellow Butch “T”, Reapers, 7 Pot, and Scotch Bonnets. The mildest are the Scotch Bonnets (600K – 800K; these are 3rd generation seeds.) everything is 1M – 2M SHU. I do have to get a new grinder this year….

  4. I have a lot of ghost peppers from last year in my freezer, have you tried dehydrating them yet? Mine were frozen whole I was thinking they would probley turn mushy once defrosted and be harder to dehydrate

    • Peppers that have been previously frozen do dry faster then fresh. I still have them in my dehydrator after 48 hrs. I put them in with some fresh ones, the fresh ones have been done for a while the ones that had been frozen are getting there but very slowly , temp is set at 110

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