I 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.
Low 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.
After 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.
I’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.