How to Dry Cayenne Peppers
While cayenne peppers are great fresh, they are more commonly used when dried. You can normally find dried cayenne peppers at the grocery store or specialty stores but they are also very easy to dry yourself.
There are several effective ways to dry cayenne peppers at home, all with their own advantages and disadvantages. We will discuss some of the more popular cayenne drying methods.
Using a Rista to Dry Cayenne Peppers
The traditional method of drying cayenne peppers in Mexico is by using the rista, basically a wreath of cayenne peppers that is hung to dry. To make your own rista all you need is some heavy duty thread and a sturdy needle. Just run the thread through the stems of the cayenne peppers and then hang them in a dry place. It can take several weeks to dry but they have the added benefit of being decorative.
Notes on Drying Cayenne Peppers with a Rista
Using a rista to dry cayenne peppers will result in them keeping more of their color, resulting in a more vibrant dried pepper.
You should hang your cayenne pepper rista outside in a dry place, not inside. Sometimes a pepper will go bad and can drip liquid that can stain the furniture and carpets.
If you live in a moist climate you may not be able to use a rista to dry your cayenne peppers.
Use gloves when handling the cayenne peppers since the capsaicin can irritate your eyes
How to Dry Cayenne Peppers in a Dehydrator
If you have a food dehydrator around it can also be used to quickly and effectively dry cayenne peppers. Simply place the peppers in the dehydrator like you would with any other fruit or vegetable.
Notes on Drying Cayenne Peppers in a Food Dehydrator
Keep the area around the dehydrator well ventilated to help disperse the fumes from the drying cayenne peppers. These fumes can your eyes and throat. It's normally best to put the dehydrator outside when drying cayenne or other peppers. If forced to dry the cayenne peppers inside then it is best to use ceiling or portable fans and to open the windows in the room.
You can either dry the cayenne peppers whole or slice them in half for faster drying. Be sure to leave enough space around the peppers to allow good air flow. If your dehydrator has a temperature gauge then set it around 140 degrees for optimal drying.
The drying process for the cayenne peppers will take around 8 to 12 hours depending on the thickness of the peppers and the strength of the dehydrator. Once the cayenne peppers are dry remove them from the dehydrator and store in a plastic bag or other airtight container. You can also save any of the seeds that fell out into the bottom of the dehydrator as well.
Drying Cayenne Peppers in the Oven
While the convenience of drying cayenne peppers in the oven has it's benefits it also can take much longer than using a dehydrator. To dry your cayenne peppers in the oven place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, either whole or cut in half. Put the cookie sheet in the oven set to the lowest temperature, ideally under 140 degrees. Make sure you keep the oven door slightly open as well to let moisture escape more easily. Every few hours flip the peppers over to ensure even drying on all sides.
Once the cayenne peppers are dry remove them from the oven and store in a plastic bag or other airtight container.
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