Chillies are a very popular vegetable for various reasons: their design, texture, and how they can be used in numerous foods and recipes. Many gardeners also like to grow chillies as it is a popular pastime, and they are relatively easy to grow. However, chillies like to be grown in warm, dry conditions. This article will go through the best ways on how to dry chillies, particularly in the UK, and how you can get the tastiest results from growing your own chillies.
We will explore the following:
Drying Chillies the Right Way
Chillies have certain properties that have to be grown and dried under the right conditions. How you preserve the chillies will determine the nutritional value of the peppers, such as their taste and overall quality. Dried peppers may not necessarily taste the same as fresh ones, but you will still find a new variety of flavours and heat textures when you expand your knowledge on how to dry chillies.
If you wish to know how to dry chillies in either their whole form or grounded into powder, they can be stored longer than fresh ones. Therefore, you can use them throughout the year as a spicy food, unlike fresh ones, whereupon they usually need to be eaten only a short time after the harvest period.
Choose your chillies
The first step to learn on how to dry chillies is by choosing the right ones. You can dry any kind of chilli, but some varieties are better than others. The best chillies for drying are those that are thin-walled and have a low moisture content.
Thin-walled chillies will dry quicker, and chillies with a low moisture content are less prone to mold or rot during the drying process. Some good varieties to try include cayenne, bird’s eye, and Thai chillies.
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Harvesting and storing chillies
Chillies are a humble plant, and one of the best ways to grow and dry them is at home. One way you can store them after harvesting is by freezing them, meaning that they will last longer for when you need them when you feel like spicing up your life and your recipes.
You may find that when defrosting chillies, they can go soggy, but this will only be more noticeable if you are eating them far. Also, they will be easier to cut if you add them as an ingredient.
Check out these many delicious recipes for chillies.
Methods of drying chillies
As simple as it may sound, there are three different ways of how to dry chillies, each of which have various methods of adding new flavours and extending the lifespan of the chillies. You can either:
- Air dry chillies
- Dry chillies in the oven
- Applying a dehydrator to dry chillies.
1. Air Drying
Our recommended method for getting the most flavour out of your chillies is by air drying them. However, this method is also the trickiest, depending on the temperature you dry them. If it is too hot, the chillies will turn crispy, but will go mouldy if it is too cold. Some recommend a spot of 25°C as the appropriate temperature for drying chillies.
To make this method easier, use a greenhouse or polytunnel to dry your chillies appropriately. Place your chillies on a rack or a warm space and monitor them until they are fully dry, or string threat them through the tops and leave them to hang. Be wary of how much sun hits the chillies, as results can vary.
2. Oven Drying
An alternative method to air drying is by drying your chillies in an oven, which has been proven to be a quicker, more time-effective method. It requires more energy, though, than drying them naturally. To learn how to dry chillies in the ove, place and space your chillies out on a tray, and leave them to bask in an oven temperature between 100 – 125°C. It should take at least six hours to dry out.
Regularly monitor them after this period; if they feel crunchy by hand, they are ready to take out. Once you have taken them out, let them cool and dry inside an appropriate container for later use.
3. Electric dehydrating
A final method for knowing how to dry chillies is by using electric dehydrators. Dehydrators are specifically designed to remove moisture from what is placed inside them. This is the simplest and quickest way to dry chillies. All you have to do is chop up the chillies into small chunks to fit inside the dehydrator, and once inside, turn it on and wait for them to dry. This method is more preferable if you already own a dehydrator, and this device can be used for drying other vegetables as well.
Storing your dried chillies
To store whole chillies, put them in a clean, dry glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Store the jar in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cupboard. Whole chillies will last for several months, or even up to a year, if stored properly.
To store crushed chillies, put them in a clean, dry glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Store the jar in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cupboard. Crushed chillies will last for several months, but they will start to lose their flavouring after a while, so remember to keep this in mind when you know how to dry chillies.
Check out our recent top tips for keeping your garden low maintenance.
What can you use dried chillies for?
Now that you have collected and stored your dried chillies, you may be wondering what to do with them. People commonly drop a couple of dried chillies into a pot of chilli, stew, or other recipes. This is understandable since chillies help to add that extra kick to them, and those who have begun to build up a slight tolerance to chillies may begin to advance up the spicy ladder of tasting even hotter chillies.
Dried chillies can also be grounded down into powder, perfectly capturing everything that people love about chillies, their flavour and spiciness. You can start small by adding a sprinkle of powder to cheese on toast, pizza, marinades, pasta, or ragu if you are feeling frisky.
Excite your taste buds by reading about the hottest chillies in the world.
Spice Up Your Life with Dried Chillies
When keeping your dried chillies inside a container, make sure that they are labelled correctly, with specific dates that they were dried and stored away, so that you can prepare them at a later date. You will find that drying chillies is a great activity and that they will be better tasting than store-bought ones after knowing that you gave plenty of time and effort towards perfecting them.
Finally, challenge your guests when they visit to eat one of your chillies, and you can watch in amusement their reaction to both their taste and heat, that they will soon be returning for more.
And with that, that is everything you need to know about how to dry chillies. Please let us know below of your personal chilly preferences and which ones you would recommend in your recipes!
How long does it take to dry chillies?
The drying time for chillies can vary depending on the method used, the size of the chillies, and the humidity in your area. Air drying can take several weeks, while oven drying can take several hours. Dehydrator drying typically takes a few hours.
How do I know when my chillies are dry enough?
Chillies are dry enough when they are completely brittle and snap easily. You can test a few chillies by snapping them in half. If they snap easily, they are dry enough. If they are still pliable or soft, they need more time to dry.
Can I dry chillies in the microwave?
While it is possible to know how to dry chillies in the microwave, it is not recommended. The microwave can cause the chillies to cook unevenly and can also cause them to lose flavor. It is best to use traditional drying methods such as air drying, oven drying, or dehydrator drying.
Can I dry different types of chillies together?
Yes, you can dry different types of chillies together, but keep in mind that some varieties may take longer to dry than others. You may need to remove some chillies from the drying process earlier than others. Also, keep in mind that mixing different types of chillies may result in a mixture of flavors and heat levels.
How should I store my dried chillies?
Dried chillies should be stored in a clean, dry glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Store the jar in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cupboard. It is also a good idea to label the jar with the type of chillies and the date they were dried, so you can keep track of how long they have been stored.
BBC Good Food. (n.d.). Chilli recipes. Retrieved [`7/03/23], from https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/chilli-recipes
Bote, J. (2022, August 3). Move over, Carolina Reaper: Meet the hottest spicy pepper in the world. USA Today. Retrieved [17/03/23], fromhttps://eu.usatoday.com/story/life/food-dining/2022/08/03/hottest-spicy-pepper-in-world/10120857002/
Amazon UK. (n.d.). NESCO FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator, For Snacks, Fruit, Beef Jerky, Gray. Amazon. [Accessed 03/05/23] Retrieved from https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=NESCO+FD-75A+Snackmaster+Pro+Food+Dehydrator%2C+For+Snacks%2C+Fruit%2C+Beef+Jerky%2C+Gray&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B0090WOCN0&linkCode=gg3&linkId=144921fc5219e192077f77d0004f5f6c&tag=chilpeppmad08-20&ref=as_li_tl
Ryan Jenkins is a professional gardener and has been working in the gardening industry for over 25 years. This has allowed Ryan to accumulate a vast wealth of gardening knowledge which he shares on the Sefton Meadows blog.