How many of you like jalapeño peppers? Uh-huh, I see the hands. Personally, I don’t eat them – spicy food is not in my “fond of” category. However, hubby LOVES any kind of pepper and loves growing new and different ones in his garden, along with the standard jalapeño and cayenne.
This year, from just five plants, we have an abundance (maybe over-abundance is a better description?) of jalapeño peppers. When I went to check the garden yesterday, I had 70 plus peppers in my bucket. Now, as much as he loves covering absolutely everything he eats in these gorgeous green beauties, even he can’t eat that many. This led me to my cookbook stash find a way to preserve them.
Last year, we acted like Peter Piper and pickled several jars of peppers. He’s still eating those, so that wasn’t my first choice. In my cookbook stash, I have a book titled “Mary Bell’s Complete Dehydrator Cookbook.” She gives tons of information on how to dehydrate just about anything – and recipes in which you can use the dried fruits of your labor! From there, I knew what I wanted to try.
To be honest, I haven’t dehydrated as much as I should have. I have dehydrated herbs for use later, and just recently potatoes (that’s a future post!). But mostly the dehydrator just sits there, gathering dust, instead of being used as much as it should be. I have decided to learn to use it – and to share what I learn along with you!
Along those lines, I decided to dehydrate the jalapeño peppers. I read through a few of my books on preserving food and then decided to just go for it!
DEHYDRATING JALAPEÑO PEPPERS
The process is really simple and you really only need a few things:
- Jalapeño peppers
- A sharp knife
- A cutting board
- Gloves (optional, but recommended)
- A dehydrator – or an oven
I did try to use gloves while cutting. However, when I went searching for gloves to fit my hands, they were nowhere to be found, and of course no one really knew what happened to them. My gloves for washing dishes – gone. My garden gloves – gone. My small latex gloves – gone. Honestly, all I could find were my hubby’s garden gloves – too big – and my winter stretchy “magic gloves.” I finally decided to just be brave and do it without. However, if you are sensitive to peppers and the like, you may want to hunt for a pair of gloves to use.
Once I washed the peppers in the colander, then I let them drain for a bit. The colander I am using a mesh strainer from this set and I love it! I then put the peppers on the cutting board, cut them in half lengthwise, and then scraped as much of the pith (the white stuff along the veins) and the seeds out as I could. I then rinsed them again.
Once I had all the jalapeño peppers cut, de-pithed (is that a word?) and de-seeded, then I laid them out on the dehydrator trays. They didn’t take up as much as room as I thought they would (I did leave a few out for hubby to eat until the next batch was ready in the garden!), so I only had two trays for the dehydrator.
I put them in my dehydrator. I have a Nesco American Harvest Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator. This is one my mom had and wasn’t using. It isn’t the largest dehydrator (I’ve borrowed an Excalibur and those are amazing, but I haven’t purchased one yet), but it does work well for what we do. On my dehydrator,I started them on a rather low setting – 125 degrees. Your dehydrator may work differently. Also, you can use an oven – turn it on the lowest setting, put the peppers on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and leave in overnight. Once I set my dehydrator, I turned it on and walked away.
When I went out into the garage a few hours later – WHEW – my eyes watered. The jalapeño smell was STRONG. Thankfully, it didn’t transfer to the house! Hubby, on the other hand, thought it smelled great. Go figure!
I let mine dry for about 10 hours, maybe a little closer to 12. It was the next morning when I checked on them and they looked like this.
They were nice and “crunchy” sounding – perfect to toss in our “pepper only” designated grinder so hubby could make jalapeño pepper flakes. He does this regularly with cayenne but has only tried it once with jalapeño peppers. This way, they’ll be ready to go and ready to grind when he is ready to make a shaker full.
Now that I’ve seen how easy this is, I think I will try cayenne pepper next. I may just toss them in whole and let them dry to see what happens. We normally dry them the old fashioned way of stringing them up and hanging them to dry – but this would be an interesting experiment.
Tell me – what items have you dehydrated in the past? What would you like to see dehydrated? As I go through this process, I think I’ll try several different items and see how they turn out.
Let me know your thoughts and comments below.
Until next time