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Chili Peppers, Air Drying Peppers Naturally

My Fresh Picked Peppers

Fresh Colorful Chili Peppers right out of my backyard garden.

Fresh Colorful Chili Peppers right out of my backyard garden.

How Would You Rate This Chili Pepper Process?

How To Air Dry Chili Peppers

Fresh picked from my backyard garden, an abundance of chili peppers gather on my kitchen counter tops. There is no way we can eat them all before they go bad. So, we set out to learn a simple natural way to dry them so they can be used throughout the year. All it takes is strong thread (natural fibers only), a durable sewing needle, a bunch of colorful chili peppers, and a place to hang them!

How To Stop The Burn Of Hot Peppers

Due to the fact that capsaicin is soluble in oils and fats, NOT water; stopping the burn of a hot pepper mishap should include consuming things that are fatty. Try ice cream, milk, and nut butters to help dowse a singeing mouth! Using water to cool things down will only spread the inferno like a windy wild fire!

Safe Handling Of Hot Peppers

Hot Chili Pepper Precautions

Before you start production to air dry your chillies, a few safety measures should be in place.

  • wear gloves!
  • wash them in cool water and pat dry
  • wash your hands with soap after handling
  • never touch any open membrane on your body before washing hands (eyes, mouth, nose, genitalia)
  • avoid getting chili residue in abrasions or cuts

What Makes Chilies So Hot

Capsaicin Makes Chilies Hot

The "spicy" or "hot" sensation caused by a chili pepper is derived from a family of compounds called capsaicinoids. Of the many capsaicinoids, only two make up 80 to 90% of the chili pepper; capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin. How hot a chili is will depend on just how concentrated these compounds are in each chili variety. It is interesting that such fiery compounds come from the larger group of chemicals called vanilloids.

Dihydrocapsaicin Molecular Structure

Dihydrocapsaicin Molecular Structure

Dihydrocapsaicin Molecular Structure

What You Think Really Does Matter!

What Is A Scoville Chart

The heat of a pepper is measured in Scoville heat units (Shu). Essentially, it determines how many parts-per-million of capsaicin (the hot stuff in peppers) can be measured within any given chili. The more parts-per-million of capsaicin a chili has, the hotter—more spicy—a chili will be. An example would be;

  • Sweet Bell Peppers are rated at "0"—containing 0 Scoville units
  • Cayenne Peppers are rated at "7"—containing 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville units
  • Red Savina Habanero is rated at "10"—containing 350,000 to 855,000 Scoville units.
  • Naga Jolokia Peppers are said to measure well over a million (1,000,000,000) Scoville units...ouch!

No matter what I am cooking, I try to stay somewhere between "0"(sweet bell peppers) and "7" (cayenne peppers). I like a really spicy dish, but I prefer flavor over the emergency room.

Air Dried Chili Peppers

Pick fresh peppers, making sure to leave the stems on.

Pick fresh peppers, making sure to leave the stems on.

Wash each pepper, and pat them dry.

Wash each pepper, and pat them dry.

Use thick durable thread to sew the peppers together.

Use thick durable thread to sew the peppers together.

Be sure to tie knots between so there is plenty of room for air to circulate.

Be sure to tie knots between so there is plenty of room for air to circulate.

Instructions For Air Drying Peppers

  1. Pick peppers with stem on, and wash thoroughly. Pat dry.
  2. Thread heavy gauge thread (natural fiber preferably) through a durable needle, making a large knot at one end.
  3. Pierce one pepper at a time near center of each stem, (never through the meat of the chili) making a new knot after each pepper. Sew about 5 or 6 peppers into each wreath. Be sure to leave enough room between each pepper for plenty of air flow.
  4. Tie the ends together to make a wreath. Hang each wreath in clear flowing open air and sunshine. Leave them for a few weeks until they lighten in color, and become wrinkled and dried.
  5. Once the chilies are dry, you can remove them from the wreath and place them in airtight containers. Storing them in a cool dry location allows the shelf life to be as much as one year.

Chili Peppers For Drying

Can Any Chili Be Dried?

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Even as just about any chili can be naturally air dried, some peppers do present challenges. Keep in mind that thicker meaty flesh on any chili will take longer to dry—due to the higher moisture content. This moist and meaty variety can also become rotten if not kept in higher temperatures, low humidity, with good air flow. This may be why it is more likely to find jalapeño peppers in a smoked or pickled state of preservation rather than dried.

Chili Peppers

String of peppers

String of peppers

Cancer And Capsaicin

Capsaicin Fights Cancer

Being that capsaicinoids are phyto chemicals (they have medicinal applications), they are said to be an effective cancer fighter. Is seems that they help to process hydrocarbons (bad free radicals) in such a way, that they cannot bind to DNA causing cell mutations—like cancer.

Dried Red Chillies

Dried red Chili Peppers

Dried red Chili Peppers

Hot Chillies

How To Use Sun Dried Peppers

Once you have your chili peppers completely dry and ready for use, you can remove the stems, and use them in several ways, below you will find 4 ways to use dried peppers.

4 Ways To Used Dried Chillies

  • Grind them into chili powder or flakes
  • Rehydrate them in hot tap water for about 30 minutes, and use similar to fresh chillies (discard the bitter soaking water, and never use boiling water or too much flavor can get leached out)
  • Add hydrated peppers to salsa or sauces; straining out the tough skins
  • Toast chilies to activate their oils for about 30 seconds on each side before using whole in sauces (remove chili from sauce before serving)

Serving Spicy Recipes

No matter how you use your chilies, just remember that the seeds and inner membrane of the pepper hold a great deal of the heat. Removing all—or part—of these before using them in a recipe can determine just how picante (spicy) your food results will be.

Make sure to have some ice cream or milk on hand for those who may have sensitivity to your hot chili fiery foods!

What's Your Chili Pepper Recipe?

Do you have a great recipe idea for dried peppers? Be sure to share it in the comments section below!

Sun Dried Chili Peppers

Sun Dried Chili Peppers

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments for "Chili Peppers, Drying Peppers Naturally"

JR Krishna from India on September 22, 2015:

What a wonderful idea

In my kitchen, chilli peppers get rotten because I didn't know how to store them for long duartion

Thanks for sharing

Maggie42 on September 10, 2014:

I've tried doing it this way but had no joy at all - it's too humid or the bugs get them. Good to see someone has success doing it this way.

Mary Wickison from USA on October 16, 2012:

What a great idea. I didn't think of hanging them up before. I laid them down on a rack but next time I will try your idea.

Thanks for the tip.

Jill Spencer from United States on October 08, 2012:

Hey, I'm going to try this! Thanks for the info. Voted up & useful.

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on October 08, 2012:

You can't see it, but I'm throwing a temper tantrum because I really want a garden so I can do this! I always learn so many cool things from your hubs, K9! :) Voted up and sharing.

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on October 06, 2012:

Pegcole17~ Thank you for stopping by. I am so glad you will be putting this method of air drying peppers to work for you! Next season, try growing cayenne peppers (if you're a fan of the stuff) you can grind the dried chilies into your own homemade cayenne powder, never having to buy the stuff from the store again! It is fresher and all-natural! Thank you for sharing your thoughts here today! I appreciate your support.


Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on October 06, 2012:

This is exactly what I was looking to learn today. Thanks so much. Next year I plan to do more container gardening so this will help with the excess harvest. I love your illustrations and the method you described sounds really easy. One step closer to natural is a good thing.

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on October 01, 2012:

@mary615~ Thank you for the kind comments. Setting them up to dry only takes a few minutes, the sun and nature does the rest, so it is a really simple task. The end result is having my own chemical free dry chili peppers year round! The best part is that my neighbor makes an amazing salsa with her fresh tomatoes; so we combine my peppers, onions, herbs, and her tomatoes for a co-op approach to very garden fresh tasty salsa. It is a beautiful thing! Thank you for the hublove!


@Jackie Lynnley~ I am happy that you find this method of air drying your fresh chili peppers worth giving a try! You won't be disappointed! Thank you for stopping by!


@Mhatter99~ Glad to help! Thank you for your comments.


@vespawoolf~ I love your idea of fresh grinding dried chilies for chili con carne! I will have to give it a try. Thanks!


@Julie DeNeen~ I hope your mom finds the method helpful! Store bought simply cannot compare! I sure appreciate that you made it by and shared your thoughts!


@Deborah Brooks~ I totally agree, placing chili peppers in a vinegar or brine is another great way to preserve these little wonders. I generally pickle (or brine) those chillies that have thick meaty moist skins (i.e., jalapenos and the likes) leaving the thinner skinned varieties for air drying. Makes for a lovely spicy experience all year round! Thank you for leaving your remarks and suggestion.


Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on September 30, 2012:

We love any kind of peppers . hot sweet. any kind. I just put some in vingar . great hub. voted up. Debbie

Blurter of Indiscretions from Clinton CT on September 29, 2012:

My mom accidentally planted too many hot pepper bushes and she was trying to figure out what to do with them all. I will forward her this article! :)

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on September 29, 2012:

Great photos of your fresh and dried chiles! I've never attempted to dry my own chiles, although you can buy at least two varieties of dried chiles here in Peru: paprika and marisol. I often grind dried chiles and use the powder blend in chili con carne. It's much better than store-bought chili powder. Thanks for a very useful hub with lots of detail. Voted up!

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on September 28, 2012:

Thank you for this. I really thought there was more to it.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on September 28, 2012:

I have oodles of these growing and wondered what I would do. When I put things like this in the freezer they just become a memory until I come across something month later and couldn't tell you what it is, lol. This is a great idea! Thank you. I will do this.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on September 28, 2012:

You grow beautiful Chili peppers! Looks like some work to dry them, but I'm sure they are worth the time.

I love hot chili peppers!

Very informative Hub. I voted it UP, will share and Pin.

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on September 28, 2012:

Sunshine625~ Thank you so much, Linda. I appreciate the support!


Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on September 28, 2012:

Fantastic photos and directions! Who doesn't love peppers and we certainly don't want them going to waste. Well done India! :)

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on September 28, 2012:

@carol777~ It is pretty relaxing to do; the weaving of the pepper wreaths that is. The results of having your own garden grown chillies all year round it quite rewarding. I like knowing that not a single drop of pesticide has been introduced into my garden! And the taste, simply divine! Thank you for stopping by and commenting.


@cascoly~ Great tip on re-hydration! Thanks for sharing one of your Mexican recipes!


cascoly from seattle on September 28, 2012:

thanks for the tips on drying - one note though on re-hydrating, if you take off the stem & seeds before adding the water you can just put it all in a food processor and strain out the skins - no bitterness

here's one of many mexican recipes i've posted

carol stanley from Arizona on September 28, 2012:

Loved this and something I think would be fun to do. We love peppers. Will bookmark, vote up and share.

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