When life hands you chilies ... make chili powder! Or at least that's what I did.
Recently, the husband's brother gifted him with a bunch of really, really hot chili peppers. They had been in the freezer since being harvested in late September and some of them were a little worse for wear. Not wanting them to go to waste, I decided that the best course of action would be to dry them in the oven and grind them into chili powder. Here's how I did it:
Step One: Wash and dry the peppers. Remove the stems and slit the peppers, lengthwise down the middle and pry open. If your chili peppers are very hot, wear rubber gloves during this process so the oils will not burn your fingers. Remove seeds, if desired, though I didn't bother. Once the peppers have dried, you can knock out most of the seeds before processing.
Step Two: Lay the peppers on a large, walled cookie sheet in a single layer and place them in middle of a pre-heated 175 F degree oven. (There are varying schools of thought on oven temperature, with some directions indicating a temp as low as 150 F degrees ... though my oven will not go that low. I set mine for 175 F and it worked out just fine.) Allow the peppers to dry in the oven for approximately 5 to 8 hours, or until they are completely dried and crisp to the touch, turning them over once or twice during the process.
Most of my peppers were completely dried at the 5 hour mark, likely because they had spent some time in the freezer. If drying very fresh peppers, you will likely need the full 8 hours or perhaps a bit more. Once finished, they should look a little something like this:
Step Three: Gently shake peppers to remove as many of the dried seeds as possible. Discard the seeds. Again, if you're sensitive, wear gloves during this process to protect your skin. Being the impatient sort of Diva that I am, I didn't bother to remove every seed. Hence, my final product looks a bit more like crushed red pepper flakes, rather than a pure powder. I'm ok with that, you can do as you see fit.
Step Four: Place the dried peppers into the bowl of a small food processor and pulse/process until finely ground. Alternately, you could use a mortar and pestle if you do not have a small food processor. Warning, be careful to keep your face away from the food processor when opening as the peppers will give off a very strong, sharp, hot scent. It made me sneeze ... a lot!
Your final product will look a little something like this:
Step Five: Transfer the ground mixture to a small, sealed jar and reserve until needed. The dried chili powder should keep indefinitely - provided that the peppers have been fully dried before grinding. Use as you see fit.
I'm well pleased with the results of my experiment. The finished powder is incredibly flavorful and, wow, its spicy! I can't wait to start cooking with it ... stay tuned for some hot stuff from the Diva next week!
So, have you ever dried and ground your own chilies? What were the results? Or, have you dried and ground any other spice or vegetable? Curious Diva wants to know.