How To Dry Chillies And Sweet Peppers
5 min

How To Dry Chillies And Sweet Peppers

5 min

Whether you use them whole, as a ground spice, or to make your own spicy chilli flakes, dried sweet peppers and chillies make an excellent addition to any spice cabinet or pantry. Best of all, drying them is surprisingly simple!

If you took advantage of the summer heat to grow your own chillies, drying them is the best way to preserve the fruits of your labour. When done correctly, dried or dehydrated chillies and peppers retain their flavours and heat. And while it's far from rocket science, a few simple tips can help you dry and preserve them for longer.

Read on for simple instructions to dry a wide variety of chillies right at home.

How to dry chillies and peppers

How To Dry Chillies And Peppers

Most vegetable gardeners love to grow chillies, and for a good reason. Not only do they taste delicious, but chillies and peppers are packed with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Growing chillies is also relatively simple compared to other crops, and most capsicum cultivars deliver excellent yields (one or two plants usually offer more than enough fruit for one household can deal with before they go bad (hence dry some!).

If you've grown your own chillies over the summer or stocked up from a local supermarket, drying is the best way to preserve their flavours, nutrients, and spice. Below you'll find all the information you need to dry your chillies and peppers on a rack, in the oven, using a dehydrator, or by simply hanging them on a piece of string. These tips work for all chillies and peppers, including bell peppers and your favourite hot chillies, too!

Related article

Tips For Growing Hotter Chili Pepper Plants

Precautions Before Drying Chillies

Precautions Before Drying Chillies

Before you jump into drying your chillies, there are a couple of things you need to consider. These include:

Protecting yourself and your environment

Protecting your eyes and skin is very important when handling hot chillies. Chillies contain capsaicin, an oil-like compound that will leak onto our hands and fingers when we handle them, and can irritate the skin, mouth, or eyes. Hence, we recommend using protective goggles and gloves whenever handling hot chillies to avoid any accidents.

If you're drying sweet peppers, goggles and gloves aren't necessary. Just remember to wash and dry your hands thoroughly before getting started.

Selecting the best berries

When drying chillies, selecting the right berry for drying is super important. Berries that aren't fresh, have been bruised or started to rot won't dry well and can create a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi.

Before you start the drying process, make sure to discard any fruits that are:

  • Soft, mushy, or rotten
  • Have a bad odour
  • Look overripe or not fully mature
  • Have greyish discolourations or bruised flesh

Remember that you don't have to let these chillies go to waste. Older chillies, for example, can be roasted over the fire and preserved in oil for a couple of days. Meanwhile, you can also generously cut away bruised or rotten flesh from a pepper and use the rest in a salad, sauce, or another recipe.

Wash your chillies thoroughly

Wash Your Chillies Thoroughly

Once you've selected the perfect chillies for drying, it's essential to wash them thoroughly. If the chillies are from your own garden and haven't been sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals, rinsing them well in cold water to remove any dirt or dust should be enough. Remember to rub them under running water to ensure they get a proper clean.

If you're using store-bought vegetables, on the other hand, it's a good idea to wash them under warm water. Warm water helps remove extra dirt and residual pesticides/herbicides found on the peel of store-bought fruit and vegetables, as well as waxes sometimes used to make groceries appear fresher than they are!

How to dry chillies the traditional way

How To Dry Chillies The Traditional Way

One of the simplest ways and most traditional methods for drying chillies is by hanging and air-drying them (either indoors or outside). To do this, use a long piece of string and tie it around the individual stems of your chillies, leaving at least 5cm between each berry. To ensure your chillies dry evenly, you need to make sure to leave enough space between them so moisture doesn't get trapped in areas where they touch.

Air-drying chillies works best in warm, dry climates with average day temperatures of at least 20˚C. If you live in a more tropical climate with warm temperatures and high humidity, you might want to consider drying your chillies in an oven or dehydrator. The moisture in the air may slow down the drying process and even cause your chillies to rot rather than dry. When choosing to air-dry chillies or peppers, it's also a good idea to opt for varieties that have naturally thinner flesh, such as Aji Rojo, Cayenne, and Thai chillies.

One of the reasons people opt for air-drying their chillies by hanging them is because it is a slower process that can help preserve more flavour. Also, taking the time to dry your chillies this way can also be a great exercise to develop patience in the fast-paced world we live in.

How to dry chillies in the oven

How To Dry Chillies In The Oven

If you're pressed for time or live in an environment that's too cold or humid to air-dry chillies, don't fret. You can use any conventional oven to dry chillies and still achieve great results. However, it is worth noting that this process is far more hands-on than hanging them.

To do this, you'll want to place your washed and dried chillies onto a lined baking sheet and bake them at roughly 50˚C for several hours. If you're drying big, thick-walled berries (such as bell peppers, for example), cut them in half to ensure they dry evenly. On the other hand, small, thin-walled chillies should dry well even if left whole. Just make sure the chillies aren't touching on the sheet, and keep the oven door slightly open to allow moisture to escape as they bake.

The exact time it takes to dry chillies in the oven will vary greatly depending on the size, and strain of your chillies and peppers. It's best to reserve several hours for this process, checking in on your chillies every 30 minutes and flipping them every hour. There's a good chance that some chillies will dry before others, so make sure to remove the dry ones to keep them from getting overly dried, which would result in a loss in flavour. You'll know a berry is dry when it's got a hard, crinkly texture.

How to dry chillies in a food dehydrator

How To Dry Chillies In A Food Dehydrator

Arguably the fastest and most convenient way to dry chillies and peppers at home is using a food dehydrator. Simply load your berries into the appliance as per the instruction manual, and remember to cut bigger chillies in half or even smaller chunks to speed up the process and get more consistent results. Like when drying in an oven, make sure you spread your chillies out evenly across the dehydrator's tray to allow moisture to escape them properly.

The exact time it takes to dry chillies in a dehydrator will vary depending on the functioning of your particular dehydrator as well as the chillies you're using. Make sure to check the user guide or with the manufacturer for more information.

What to do when your chillies are dried

Dried chillies can be stored whole and rehydrated in oil or water when you need them—just like dried tomatoes you find at health food stores or supermarkets. Alternatively, if you've dried particularly aromatic or hot chillies, you can process them into a ground spice using a coffee grinder, spice mill, or food processor. Just remember to do so in a well-ventilated space and use a face mask and goggles to avoid inhaling the spicy powder or irritating your eyes. You can also use a coarser grind to make your very own chilli flakes.

How to store your dried chillies

How To Store Your Dried Chillies

Dried whole chillies are best stored in a mason jar, regular glass jars, ziplock plastic bag, or any other airtight container. This will help preserve the natural flavours and aromas of the chillies for as long as possible, while keeping air moisture out. Ground chillies and chilli flakes are also best stored in a sealed container and in a cool, dry place to preserve the aromas and flavours of the spice for as long as possible. Also keep both your ground and whole chillies out of direct light to preserve their flavours and heat.

While properly dried and stored chillies can last indefinitely, it's best to consume them within 3 months to enjoy the maximum flavours and aromas. Even with proper storage, dried chillies will begin to lose their flavour over time. In general, chilli flakes tend to lose their flavour and aroma a little faster, so consider leaving your chillies whole to help preserve them.

Perfectly dried chillies, every time

Drying chillies is a great way to preserve their flavour and extend their shelf-life. The techniques we explored in this article also work particularly well if you grow your own chillies/peppers at home and want to preserve the fruits of your hard work in the vegetable garden!

Steven Voser
Steven Voser
Steven Voser is an independent cannabis journalist with over 6 years of experience writing about all things weed; how to grow it, how best to enjoy it, and the booming industry and murky legal landscape surrounding it.
How To Plantshop
Search in categories