I’ve had pretty good success with hot peppers in the garden. They’re a little more easy going than sweet bell peppers which seem to need just the right amount of water and sun to develop the color and flavor we prefer. I use cayenne (pictured here) and jalapeno peppers, pepper flakes or cayenne powder in Hot Pepper Jelly, Salsa, Tomato Jam, Stews, Popcorn Seasoning and tons of other recipes. We like a bit of heat in our food, but compared to some of our friends and family, our tastes are probably on the tame side. So a big batch of peppers like in this photo will last us a long time.
After harvesting hot peppers from the garden, I hang them up to dry by threading with a standard needle and thread. I poke the needle through each pepper at the very top sometimes through the green stem, sometime right underneath the stem. When I’ve threaded them all, I hang them up for several weeks until they’re completely dry and wrinkly as shown below.
At this point, they’ll store in a glass container or plastic bag for months – possibly years (assuming no moisture gets to them at all).
When I have a little time, I grind them into hot pepper flakes or into fine cayenne powder.
Place pieces of dried peppers into grinder – yup I use our coffee grinder – the following cup of coffee is always special!
Grind peppers a little at a time until you reach the desired consistency. A coarse grind (just a couple of pulses) will give you hot pepper flakes.
A few more pulses will give you a much finer powder – cayenne pepper.
Transfer powder into a spice jar.
Label and enjoy in your favorite recipes. But be warned, we find our homemade cayenne powder is much spicier than store bought powder – use small amounts, taste and adjust accordingly.
Have a different variety of hot pepper, no problem! As long as those peppers have been thoroughly dried, you can use any variety to make hot pepper flakes or powder.
Getty Stewart is an engaging speaker and writer providing tasty recipes, time-saving tips, and helpful kitchen ideas to make home cooking easy and enjoyable. She is a Professional Home Economist, author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and veggie gardener.