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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How to Dry Cayenne Peppers for Crushed Red Pepper: And Collect the Seeds!

How to Dry Cayenne Peppers for Crushed Red Pepper: 
And Collect the Seeds!

Peppers are great garden vegetables. They grow great in the ground and really make for great container plants. Cayenne peppers, when red, have a sweetness to them along with heat, that is perfect for making crushed red pepper for your Italian dishes. Cayenne peppers do great with a little neglect. I used the word great 4 times (well 5) because cayenne peppers will produce (a lot)  and when they do... you will have to dry them!

Peppers have an odd habit of wanting to produce during stressful times and sometimes with a little planned neglect they tend to produce more peppers. Peppers are one garden vegetable you don't want to over fertilizer or give excessive amounts of nitrogen. You'll end up with many green leaves but fewer peppers.

If you are going to collect cayenne pepper seeds, make sure you harvest seeds from fully red pods that are a little soft to the the touch. That will be a pepper that is full of mature seeds. Just let them dry on a plate for about 7 days and store them for next year.

When drying cayenne peppers (or any garden vegetable) you want to make sure you don't 'cook' them. The drying process will take 6 -12 hours depending on weather conditions, your oven, and the amount of peppers you are drying. You want to dry them with a Fahrenheit temperature no higher than 170 degrees or so.

The oils will evaporate at higher temperatures and you don't want that to happen. Evaporation of  oils is lost flavor. They can also 'cook' so to speak and the sweetness is lostand replaced with some burned flavor. You can dry them at lower temperatures if you wish. It will take longer and I have not really noticed a difference in flavor. This is a great way to use up all you cayenne peppers and have a winter supply of crushed red pepper. Enjoy!

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