How To Dehydrate and Grind Pepper

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When I brought in my meager pepper harvest, I wondered what I could do with such a sad collection. Genie suggested dehydrating and grinding them. That sounded easier than pickling, so I gave it a shot. I’m glad I did.

Slice the peppers into strips and remove the pulp and seeds. Lay the slices of pepper in your dehydrator without crowding. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can put the peppers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in a 200° oven. Leave it for 8-10 hours, until most of the peppers are brittle and crumble when you squeeze them.

When they’re ready, dump everything into a large bowl. You’ll see a variety of colors, from green to red to black. They’re all good.

Go through and pick out any pieces that are still flexible. They should crumble when you press them between your fingers.

Take out the soft ones and put them back in the dehydrator. The rest, break them up and put them in a mortar and pestle. First, crush the pieces into flakes.

Then, using a circular motion, grind the flakes into powder.

Most of the pepper was ground down at this point. But despite over 12 hours in the dehydrator, there were still some pieces with too much moisture left in them to grind.

First let’s sift out the finished powder. Because I’m cheap, I recycled the container from the chipotle powder I used in my chili. Put it in the bottom of a large bowl with the sieve in it.

Pour the ground pepper into the sieve and tap the edge until nothing else is coming through.

The remaining pieces that are too large to go through the sieve won’t grind because they aren’t completely dried out. Pour it all into a dry pan over high heat.

Shake the pan constantly until the powder gets darker and starts to smoke.

If you’ve never toasted spices, like you would when making a curry, take a whiff of it. The toasting really brings out the aroma.

Grind the toasted pepper, and that’s it.


In the next couple of days I’m going to be using this powder in my take on the signature dish of a local Italian restaurant. Sign up below to make sure you don’t miss it.

Comments

  1. Tease. Heh. I miss my parents dehydrator. My dad built it out of plywood and it used a space heater to dry things. It was 5’x2’x3′ (or so) and could dehydrate more fruit, vegetables and meat than we knew what to do with. I miss that almost as much as the chest freezer… but not quite.

  2. Reminds me of when my dad dried and ground his jalapeno harvest. He ground it in a blender, then when it was finished he leaned in and took a big whiff. According to various family members who actually witnessed this, he ran from the kitchen coughing and wheezing. So don’t lean in for a big sniff when your peppers happen to be of the spicy variety. :-)

  3. Bob, if I ever get a good garden going I’m going to have to build one of those. I’ll bet it would work well for smoking brisket or pork.

    Stephanie, I did that with horseradish. I learned my lesson.

  4. Hmm…you think this dehydration method would for apples or nectarines? I love dried fruit but I have absolutely no more space to fit a dehydrator.

    This is a good idea…

  5. Sweet Bird, if you don’t have a dehydrator, the key is to keep the temperature high enough to dry it out, but not so high that it cooks. 150-180 degrees should do it. And the more air flow you can get around the food the better.

  6. Krystal Wight Armstrong says:

    Bob, Drew,
    How does one build their own dehydrator?

  7. You can do it in the oven. Set the veggies on a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet. You want to get air all around them. If you have a convection oven, even better.

    You could make one, if you really wanted to. I'm sure Alton Brown probably has one he made out of a cardboard box, a hotplate and a clip-on fan. But they're the kind of thing people register for, get them as wedding presents, then sell in garage sales in the original, unopened boxes 8 years later. Check Craigslist.

  8. Is the toasting a necessary step? By which I mean is it just flavor-enhancing or does it fulfill some function? Also, I thought in curries the toasting is done just before using the particular spice. If I’m dehydrating a large amount of peppers for storage, would you still recommend toasting? Thanks!

  9. Is the toasting a necessary step? By which I mean is it just flavor-enhancing or does it fulfill some function? Also, I thought in curries the toasting is done just before using the particular spice. If I’m dehydrating a large amount of peppers for storage, would you still recommend toasting? Thanks!

    • Not if you have more patience and leave it in the dehydrator long enough. I only toasted the bits that weren’t dry enough to grind properly.

      You’re absolutely right about curries, where you toast the already-dried spices just before using them to intensify the flavor.

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