Whether you’re lucky enough to have grown or been given a glut of habanero peppers or have come home with a bag load from the store, drying them is a great way to preserve them!
Drying habanero peppers is far easier than it may sound and will ensure that you can enjoy these delicious peppers for much longer.
So, how to dry habanero peppers? The best way to dry habanero peppers is in a food dehydrator, which can be used to dry whole habaneros for cooking, or slices of habanero to be ground into powder. If you do not have a dehydrator, you can also dry habanero peppers in the oven or air dry them.
Are you ready to give drying habanero peppers a try? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about this simple preservation technique!
Why Dry Habanero Peppers?
Habanero peppers are spicy little chili peppers with a fiery, intense flavor. Like most chilies, they can be either used fresh or dried and are commonly added to a range of different spicy dishes.
Whilst fresh habanero peppers taste great, they are commonly dried as a way to preserve them for longer.
Drying chili peppers will also intensify the flavor, and dried peppers can either be used whole or chopped into fine flakes. Dried habanero peppers are also sometimes ground to make chili powder or used to make hot sauce.
Drying them yourself will give you dried habanero peppers that taste far more flavorful and intense than any store-bought version. It’s also a great way to preserve habanero peppers from the summer so you can enjoy them year-round!
When dried, whole habanero chili peppers look like small, shriveled pods with wrinkly skin. The skin can be quite brittle and the pepper itself is leathery and pliable.
They have a pungent, fruity flavor and sweet aroma with a robust level of spiciness.
In hot countries, habanero peppers are traditionally dried by hanging them in the sun. They would have been prepared beforehand in various ways. Some would be left whole, whilst others would be halved or sliced into strips.
Whole dried habanero chilis can be soaked in water to reconstitute them for cooking. Dried strips can be crushed to make chili flakes or chili powder.
How To Dry Habanero Peppers In A Dehydrator — Step By Step Guide
If you want to try drying habanero peppers at home, the easiest way to do this is in a dehydrator. A dehydrator will perfectly control the temperature and humidity levels to ensure your peppers dry out slowly and without burning.
So if you’ve got a glut of habanero peppers on your hands, simply follow our step-by-step guide to find out how to dry them to perfection!
1. Prepare The Habanero Peppers
The first thing to note is that habanero peppers are spicy, not only to eat but also to handle!
When processing a large number of hot chili peppers, it is a good idea to wear disposable gloves to protect your hands. This will also prevent you from accidentally touching more sensitive parts of your body, such as the eyes.
Wash the habanero peppers with clean, cool water then dry them off with a paper towel. Inspect them carefully and discard any that are blemished on the exterior.
2. Slice The Habanero Peppers
How you slice the peppers will depend on how you want to use them afterward and how much time you have to dehydrate them.
It is possible to dehydrate whole habanero peppers in a dehydrator, but these will take far longer than thinly sliced strips.
Your habanero peppers can be sliced in half or cut into rings or thin slices. The seeds are the hottest parts of any chili pepper, so if you prefer your food less spicy, remove the seeds.
3. Place The Habanero Peppers In The Dehydrator
Spread your prepared peppers, either whole or sliced, on the trays of the dehydrator. Spread them out with thinly as possible as this will help them dry more evenly.
Set the temperature of the dehydrator to 135°F, then leave the chili peppers to dehydrate for several hours
4. Check The Habanero Peppers
At this temperature, your habanero should take between 8–10 hours to dehydrate, depending on whether they are whole or sliced.
However, it is a good idea to check the peppers after a few hours in case they are dehydrating much faster than expected.
If you are drying more than one tray of habanero peppers, this is a good point to swap the trays around to ensure they all dry evenly.
The extent to which you dry the habanero peppers will depend on how you intend to store and use them.
Whole peppers that are intended to be reconstituted in water should be dried until they feel like pliable leather.
At the other end of the spectrum, strips of pepper that are to be ground into powder should be dried until they are brittle and crack easily.
Can I Air Dry Habanero Peppers?
If you don’t have access to a dehydrator, you could attempt the traditional method of air-drying habanero peppers. This method does come with some risks as the peppers could start to spoil before they are completely dry.
Air drying works best in direct sunlight and is normally done outside during the summer months.
The traditional way to do this was to create strings or garlands of habanero peppers suspended on fine cotton threaded through the tough stems. These colorful garlands were strung up outside in direct sunlight until completely dry.
If you are worried about bugs and insects contaminating your peppers while they’re drying, a good alternative is to use your outdoor grill.
Lay the clean, dry peppers on a baking sheet, place them on the grill, and close the lid. Heat will build up inside the grill and gently dry your peppers to perfection.
Another option is to use your car as a giant sun dryer! Peppers will dry in as little as two days if placed in direct sunlight on the dashboard of your car.
Whichever method you use, rotate the peppers regularly to ensure they dry evenly. Aim for them to become crispy and brittle, after which they can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry pantry for several months.
Can You Dry Habanero Peppers In The Oven?
It is possible to dry habanero peppers in the oven, but this technique requires much more vigilance to ensure they do not burn.
The problem is that most ovens have a lower temperature limit of around 200°F — at this temperature, your spicy peppers will start to cook before they are dried out!
Prepare the peppers by washing and slicing them, then place them on a baking sheet. This method works particularly well with peppers that have been sliced in half and had the seeds removed.
Set the oven to 200°F and place the peppers in the oven. Check them every two hours, and remove any that are completely dry. Take care not to let the peppers burn or become so dry that they lose flavor and color.
How Do You Dry Habanero Peppers To Make Powder?
It would never occur to many people to make their own spices, but if you’ve gone to the trouble of drying habanero peppers then it’s only one more step to create homemade chili powder!
This method works best with peppers that were cut into strips before they were dried — whole dried peppers should be kept aside for use in cooking.
Take the dried pepper pieces and toast them to remove any excess moisture trapped inside. This can be done in a dry frying pan over medium heat, or in an oven set at around 300°F for 10 minutes.
Let the peppers cool down completely and then remove any seeds and stems that were missed earlier. To make the peppers easier to grind, break them into smaller pieces.
Grinding dried peppers by hand in a pestle and mortar creates a great flavor, but can be very labor-intensive.
Your freshly ground chili powder can then be stored in the same way as any of your other dried spices. Keep it in a cool dark place in an airtight container, and it should be good to use for several months.
How To Store Dried Habanero Peppers
Whole or sliced dried habanero peppers must be stored carefully to prevent them from deteriorating. Like any dried foodstuff, they will re-absorb moisture, which will cause them to spoil more quickly.
- Make sure to store your dried peppers in an airtight container, such as a Mason jar or resealable plastic bag.
- Keep them in a cool, dark location away from direct sunlight and extreme fluctuations in temperature.
- Check the dried peppers regularly, and remove any that show signs of mold or spoilage.
Some people like to hang garlands of dried peppers as decoration in the kitchen — these can look very beautiful, but they will not last as long as peppers stored in the pantry. Plus when something looks this good, it’ll be eaten in no time at all!
How To Rehydrate Dried Habanero Peppers
It is a little-known culinary secret that dried chili peppers can be rehydrated for use in cooking. This is a great way to preserve peppers for longer, and they make a great addition to sauces, soups, and casseroles!
A good trick is to dry-toast the dried peppers in a hot pan for around a minute on each side. This intensifies the flavor and brings out the great aroma of the peppers.
Next, place the peppers in a heatproof bowl and cover them in boiling water. Small peppers like habaneros will take just 15 minutes to rehydrate.
When the peppers start looking plump and moist, drain the water from the bowl. The rehydrated peppers are now ready for use, adding great summery flavor and texture to your dishes all year round!