Monday, July 26, 2010

Experimenting with Chili Peppers

I tried something new this weekend without any real knowledge about how to do it, only what I had picked up on the Internet.

Wait, that sounds REALLY bad.

I tried making my own ground chili peppers this weekend. This isn't a "how to", I was just stumbling through this.

This year, Alexis grew a nice cayenne pepper plant that has been quite productive for a single plant.

I supplemented that with a nice selection from Rushy Springs Farm in nearby Jefferson County.

I picked a handful of the cayenne, some of the sweeter green chili peppers, and then those tiny little devil dogs (not their real name), some kind of thai chili pepper similar to a birds eye. I decided to try to cold smoke them first. I loaded my home made cold smoke generator with cherry and apple wood chips.

And smoked them whole for about 90 minutes inside of the Big Green Egg (not lit).

Then I cut them into slices, cleaning out the seeds, and placed them on a $6 garage sale bought dehydrator. I ran it for 14 hours.

Once they were crispy and dry.....

I rough chopped them and ran them through my spice grinder (electric coffee bean grinder, never used for coffee) for about 15 seconds. Too coarse.

I ran it back through a second time for about 30 seconds. Much better. I can use it at this texture or run it through a pepper mill for a more fine texture.

I like the texture and color that the larger green chili pepper pieces add. The heat provided by just two of those thai peppers gives a nice hit of heat but it's balanced by the rich flavor of the rest of the milder peppers.

I'm not sure how much of the smoke came through at the end though. Next time I'd either seed and slice the peppers before smoking them or just smoke the ground pepper at the end. There was a steady thin smoke coming out, I just think the waxy skins of the peppers kept it from getting in.

The aroma of this mix smells unlike any packaged ground red pepper I've ever bought. It smells like....ground chili peppers. Real chili peppers. I can't wait to grill with this stuff.

If you try this at home, let the spice mixer rest for a second after grinding to let the pepper dust settle. I failed to do that and when I opened the top, the whiff of dust burned my sinus cavity for a few minutes. It reminded me of this old joke.

Doctor: So, have you had any odd symptoms since we changed your medications last time?

Patient: No. Well, yes, just one. It's kind of embarrassing. Every time that I sneeze, I have an orgasm.

Doctor: Oh? That's odd. And how have you been treating that?

Patient: By snorting pepper!

Have any tips for dehydrating peppers or herbs?
If you had just a little bit of this red/green pepper mix, what would YOU use it on?