Thursday, September 9, 2010

Grinding Your Own Chili Peppers

I've been having some fun this summer courtesy of a $6 dehydrator purchased at a garage sale.

Having absolutely no idea about what I was doing, I tried drying chili peppers and making my own paprika, ground red pepper, and other ground chili mixes.

This is definitely not a how to post. Just a report on what I've done and an encouragement that if you find a $6 dehydrator at a garage sale, buy it.

Some of the peppers were grown by Alexis on our back deck.

Some were purchased at the Market Square Farmers Market.

I tried cold smoking some (learned I should have cut them up first).

We interrupt this post for a Celebrity Produce Lookalike Sighting....The bell pepper is one from our plants this year and credit goes to Alexis for recognizing the face.

But whatever I did, I ended up deseeding the peppers and slicing them up into pieces. The thicker the skins of the peppers, the smaller the pieces needed to be. Then I'd dry them from anywhere from 12 to 36 hours.

I just guessed that they were done when the peppers were inflexible and crispy almost like plastic. I wanted them to break in my fingers. If they still had bend to them, I left them in the dehydrator.

Then I would put them in the coffee grinder.

I had to experiment with how long to grind them. 10 seconds produced a very coarse grind.

Twenty seconds yielded a hearty grind that would be good when looking for bold flavors in a rub.

But 30 seconds seemed to give the typical "ground pepper" texture.

My red pepper batch was pure red cayenne peppers that dried about 12 hours. It's hot but more flavor than hot and I will hate using store bought cayenne ever again.

The paprika was made from red bell peppers. Don't think I did this one right. The thick peppers took 36 hours to dry out. The ground pepper mix doesn't remind me of paprika but it is a kick ass ground sweet pepper with that classic roasted red pepper taste.

Then there was the "mongrel mix". I threw in a blend of peppers ranging from poblanos to some very hot yet tiny thai chili peppers. The ground mix is the green one in the first picture and buddy, it packs the heat and pungent chili flavor. I'm playing with a bit of it, the "paprika", and cumin for my own chili powder.

Again, I am entertaining myself, this is NOT an instructional post. But isn't that what food blogging is about? Don't take yourself too seriously and have some fun!

Have you ever dried your own peppers and have some tips to share?
Have you ever found a celebrity in your produce bin? Jesus on your toast? Elvis on a bunion?