Chilies have always been a staple ingredient in terms of adding that mouthwatering, sharp and distinctively hot flavor in every recipe.
Sadly, chilies are among the fresh produce that easily perishes when left unused for a certain period of time especially if they are all clumped together while exchanging moisture. Thus, there are many people who opt to preserve this food enhancer right in their own homes by using different drying methods.
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The drying and aging process intensifies the dried chilies’ heat delivering properties and ultimately enhances their flavors compared to fresh chilies, making them not only great as food and recipe enhancers but also great as gifts to other chili lovers.
Here is a list of easy methods for dehydrating chilies.
Easy Methods of Dehydrating Chilies
First of all, let’s see how to dehydrate chilies without a food dehydrator.
Sun drying chilies
This method is the simplest, albeit the longest way of dehydrating chilies.
- First, select individuals from a bunch. Select the ones that are well-shaped, firm, slick, smooth and unwrinkled. While there are chilies that are naturally wrinkled such as ghost peppers, still look out for any soft, sunken parts and those with dark spots and make sure to discard those individuals presenting such characteristics as they are well on their way to being rotten.
- Next, wash your chili peppers thoroughly using room temperature tap water, making sure that each chili pepper is free of dust and any molds. Thereafter, put them on a wire mesh ensuring ample space between each fruit allowing thorough air drying.
- Lastly, place all these chilies onto a wire mesh and then, place that chili-filled mesh onto any form of a basin or anything that could serve as a bed for the mesh. It would be great towards the quality of the chilies if you have a circular woven basket available but if you don’t, anything that could function as a bed for the mesh should do.
It is important to make sure that all the chilies are fully exposed and not overlapping one another. You can then place them out to dry in the sun.
You may have to repeat this process on a daily basis for 2 to 3 weeks, depending on the weather and the humidity of the air.
The main goal here is to fully strip the chilies of any liquid properties or moisture.
Once you’re confident that this goal is reached, you can then store your sun-dried chilies.
Dehydrating chilies in the oven
For this process, it is also essential to check for any signs of rotting. You can follow the same inspection, washing and draining techniques as mentioned above.
- However, the difference with oven drying these chilies is that you first have to discard the stem by cutting it away. Then, slice each individual fruit in half, starting from the calyx, which is where the stem was attached, down to the lower end of the fruit, exposing the seeds from each side.
- Now, it’s important to ensure that the seeds are secured within each side of the fruit because those innards are essential components that contribute to the pungent properties of the chilies.
- Once all the chilies are sliced, place the chilies onto a baking sheet pan covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Next, ensure that the oven temperature is only between 100 to 130 degrees.
There is no set time for this process to complete, so it is best to use your own judgment in determining the status of the chilies.
Typically, this method would take several hours and would require checking every several minutes or so. You would also need to rotate them to get your desired result.
It is also advisable to leave the oven door slightly opened to allow minimal ventilation.
The main goal of using this process is to ensure that the moisture from the chilies is all baked away.
Dehydrating chilies in the food dehydrator
Dehydrators are mainly used for the purpose of food preservation.
Dehydrators work by having super-heated air circulate within the interior of the kitchenware, allowing a significant reduction of the moisture present in any of the food placed inside.
This method is preferable to many of those who regularly practice dry chili preservation because the process is comparatively easy and fast compared to the previous methods.
- The process requires proper selection and washing of the chilies as well.
- Although slicing the chilies would result to having them dry faster, the option of cutting and slicing the chilies really is up to you.
- Using a food dehydrator when dehydrating chilies is easier and faster, which means that you can simply prepare them, put them in, then leave them alone.
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Now, once you have these tanned and shriveled dried chilies ready, you must store them properly to ensure their quality.
How to Store Dehydrated Chilies
You can freeze them in airtight containers or zip-lock plastic bags. Better yet, instead of having them as sliced or whole chilies; you can opt to grind them up to a powdery perfection to be deliciously served as a regular mealtime companion.
Whether you opted to grind them or not, just ensure to store them within airtight containers and store them in a dry, dehumidified storeroom because the quality and lifespan of these chilies largely depend on how well they are stored.
So, keep that in mind and keep your kitchen cupboard clean and dry.
There are even those who grow and preserve chilies to be used as spiritual ornaments.
In hindsight, the majority simply loves having their food graced by the presence of this hot, peppery, tear-jerking, mouth-numbing sensation digging well into their pain and pleasure receptors.
And on that note, chilies are one of the most curious yet most popular staple flavor enhancers to have ever graced the gastronomical world.