Do you love habanero peppers?
Fresh peppers are delicious and add a great kick to any meal but they don't last very long. One great solution to extend their life is to dehydrate them. Dehydrating habanero peppers may sound intimidating but it's a fairly easy process. Once you get the hang of it and figure out which method works best for you, you'll wonder why you didn't try it sooner. So read on and discover how to dehydrate and store those tasty peppers!
What is Dehydrating and How Can I do it?
Dehydrating food removes the moisture, which in turn, extends the life of the fruit or vegetable. Without moisture, bacteria, mold and other microorganisms won't be able to grow. If they can't grow then the food will last for a long time. Sounds good doesn't it?
Dehydrating food can also help save you money. Your food won't go to waste if you take out the moisture. So instead of throwing away that pepper you bought weeks ago, give dehydrating a try. You'll be able to store it for up to one year so you'll definitely get more bang for your buck. Plus, you can spice up all kinds of meals - no more boring dinners.
There are a few different ways to dehydrate food, some easier than others.
Using a dehydrator
Dehydrators are designed to pull the moisture from the food without cooking them. As they've grown in popularity, you can usually find pretty good deals on them which makes it even more tempting to buy. They're also pretty easy to use and once you get the hang of it, you'll never put it away.
If you need help picking a dehydrator, you can check here to read my reviews top 7 best dehydrators in the market.
When using the dehydrator for peppers, you'll first want to wash and dry them. It's also optional if you wish to cut them lengthwise. It may lessen the time needed in the dehydrator.
- Preheat your dehydrator to 120 degrees
- Add the peppers and check in 5 hours
Using an Oven
If you don't own a dehydrator you can always try your oven. You would need to set it at the lowest temperature possible which is usually anywhere from 160-200 degrees. Even with this low setting it's still likely that the pepper will cook a bit. You can try to lower the temperature by leaving the oven door open.
- Wash and dry peppers and cut them if preferred
- Arrange on a baking sheet but do not overcrowd
- Check regularly, every 20 minutes or so but it could take up to 3 hours to fully dry out the peppers.
Dehydrating habanero peppers by hanging outside has been done for centuries. It's definitely one of the easiest methods to try but its success can depend on where you live. If you live in a humid climate that's prone to some rainfall it may be difficult to get your peppers to dry.
- Grab a needle and thread and poke a hole through the stem of the pepper. Tie a knot afterwards to secure it. Make sure that you space the peppers to avoid overcrowding.
- Hang them in an area the sun hits and wait up to 2 weeks for the dried peppers.
I guess I should also note that because you'll be dealing with habanero peppers, you need to take precautions when dealing with them. The Scoville scale is used to measure the heat of peppers and spicy food. The habanero is one of the peppers that is at the top of that scale. With that in mind, it's essential to always wear gloves when dealing with these peppers. Just as important is to remember to never touch your eyes, nose or ears because you'll regret it afterwards.
Storing Your Dehydrated Peppers
Now that you know how to dehydrate peppers, how will you store them? Well that's easy enough. As long as they are stored in a dry, dark area they can last up to a year. So that means either filling up some baggies or containers with a tight lid and placing them in my pantry.
Be sure that you remove all the air from your plastic baggie. Another tip that may work when using a container is to add a bit of dry rice to it, any excess moisture will be sucked up by the rice allowing the peppers to remain dry.
How to Use Dehydrated Habanero Peppers
So you've gone through all this work of dehydrating these peppers, now what? Here are some ideas to put all that hard work to good use.
Grind the pepper up and use it to season all kinds of food. Add it to chicken or steak or your favorite taco recipe. It'll take any dish up a notch and pack it with flavor.
You can use a blender or food processor to grind up the peppers – just be sure you take the appropriate safety precautions since they are so potent.
Sometimes it's easier to see just how something like this would work. You can check out this YouTube video that shows how a habanero was dehydrated and made into pepper flakes. Watching how it's done may give you more confidence to try it on your own.
This simply means adding the peppers to whatever it is you're making. If you've got a stir fry going than simply adding the pepper in while the veggies are cooking will add that extra kick of flavor.
Coming up with recipes for habaneros can be challenging. You don't want to use too much and have your food be too spicy but you don't want too little. If you're looking for ways to use your dried habanero peppers than check out the recipes on Yummly. You'll find a variety of recipes and ways to use your dehydrated habaneros that you've probably never thought of.
While it may seem a bit intimidating to dehydrate habanero peppers, simply give it a try. There are a few different methods that can be used so try them all and find the one that works best for you. While it may take a bit of time, it'll be worth it in the end when you can enjoy delicious food throughout the year with your homemade spices and peppers.