If you are a lover of the spicier things in life, then you definitely must be a fan of Jalapeño peppers. They are the most popular spicy pepper in America, because they are just the right balance between slightly spicy and too spicy. But, in most cases, Jalapeño peppers are not enjoyed fresh. Instead, they are dehydrated prior to serving.
This can seem a little strange, because most other peppers are enjoyed fresh, but the main reasoning behind dehydrating peppers is because they produce so many. No matter which method you used to grow your Jalapeño peppers, these plants are notorious for producing a lot of vegetables.
Dehydrating your Jalapeño peppers will prolong their shelf life, giving you more time to enjoy the delicious plants that you grew. But how do you do this? And is there anything that you need to watch out for along the way? Read this guide to find out everything you need to know about dehydrating Jalapeño peppers.
How do you Dehydrate Jalapeño Peppers?
Before we get into the step-by-step guide for dehydrating Jalapeño peppers, it is important to tell you that there are lots of different methods which you can follow to do this. There are lots of different ways that you can prepare your peppers for dehydration, you might choose to chop them, or you might choose to do them whole.
Some people think that the only option you have when it comes to drying peppers (of any kind) is to use a dehydrator. But, this really isn’t the case. Jalapeño peppers, and lots of other peppers for that matter, have been dried out for centuries. Dehydration has been a food preservation method a lot longer than electric dehydrators have existed, so if you don’t have a dehydrator, you don’t need to worry.
In reality, there are three different methods that you can use to dehydrate your Jalapeño peppers. They are to use your electric dehydrator, use your oven, or to use the old-fashioned method and air dry them. Depending on your situation, different methods will be more appropriate.
If you have a dehydrator, then this will be the easiest method for you. But, you do not need to buy a dehydrator purely to dehydrate your Jalapeños. If you don’t have a dehydrator, but you do have an oven, then you might instead choose to use this method.
However, there are a number of risks that come with this method. Failing that, you might choose to air dry your Jalapeños, which is a method that has worked for centuries. However, this method does take a lot longer, and isn’t suitable if you live in a very humid country.
Ultimately, you need to weigh up your different options, and use the one that works best for you. So once you have decided which method is the right one for you, keep on reading to find out how to do it.
Dehydrating Jalapeño Peppers with a Dehydrator
First, let’s take a look at how you dehydrate your Jalapeño peppers using a dehydrator. While there are older methods than this around, using a dehydrator really is the ideal option. So, if you have the space, money, and know you are going to be dehydrating a lot of Jalapeños, then you are best off investing in a dehydrator.
Yes, the cost up front can feel like a bit of a hit when you have an oven at home. But, there is no risk of your Jalapeños cooking if you use a dehydrator, and this definitely a risk if you use your oven.
If you have a dehydrator, then the process is simple. But, to help you out, we’ve put together this handy step-by-step guide to help you. So, if you want to dehydrate your Jalapeños, then follow these steps.
- Analyze your Peppers - As we have said, you will end up with a lot of Jalapeños, so you should only dehydrate the best ones. To find the best Jalapeños, you should look through your peppers, examining them for any mold, rot, or holes in their body. Any Jalapeños that aren’t perfect should be discarded, leaving you with a pile of top-quality Jalapeños ready to dehydrate.
- Wash your Peppers - When you are handling any fresh fruit or vegetable, you should always wash them. Jalapeños are no different. So, before you go any further, take your chosen peppers and wash them thoroughly. You should wash them in cold water, then dry them thoroughly, ensuring that you do not leave any water on the surface of the peppers. This will just extend the time that it takes for them to dry.
- Cut your Jalapeños - After you have dried your Jalapeños, you should then begin chopping them. You probably already have experience chopping Jalapeños, but just in case you don’t, we’re going to tell you how to prepare them. You should begin by removing the stem from the pepper, before choosing the shape that you want, and chopping them in this way. Most people choose a horizontal cut for Jalapeños. If you want your peppers to dry quicker, it is also best to go for a thinner cut rather than a thicker one.
- If you have decided to dry your Jalapeños whole, then you should just cut a few slits into the surface of the pepper, as this will help speed up the dehydration process.
- Add your Jalapeños to the Dehydrator Tray - All dehydrators will come with trays which you must distribute whatever you want to dry upon. Lay all of your pepper slices flat across the tray, ensuring that you leave a decent sized gap between each pepper. It is important that none of your slices are touching when you put the tray into the dehydrator, as this will likely cause them to stick to one another.
- Set your Dehydrator to the Correct Heat - Once you have set up your Jalapeños, you can then set your dehydrator to your desired temperature. We would recommend 125 degrees Fahrenheit (75 degrees Fahrenheit), as this is the perfect temperature to dry the peppers without cooking them.
- Leave for 6 Hours - When you have set your dehydrator to go, then your job is pretty much done. The amount of time that it takes for your Jalapeños to dehydrate will depend entirely on how thick you chopped them. But, in our experience, it will always take at least 6 hours for your Jalapeños to dry out. Even if you cut them up thinly. However, if you opted for a thicker cut, or chose to dehydrate your peppers whole, then it could take up to 10 hours for them to dry out.
The level of dehydration that you want is also a matter of personal preference. You might like your Jalapeños slightly underdone, or you might like them very crispy.
In this case, you should continually monitor your Jalapeños so that you can take them out of the dehydrator when they have reached your desired state.
You may also be drying your Jalapeños ready to make pepper powder. In this case, you should leave your peppers in the dehydrator until they are completely brittle, as this is the state in which it is easiest to grind them.
8. Store them for Later - Finally, you need to store your dehydrated Jalapeños in an appropriate manner. Most people choose to either use freezer bags, an airtight container, or mason jars to store their Jalapeños until they want to use them.
Dehydrating Jalapeño Peppers in the Oven
If you decide that you would prefer to use an oven to dehydrate your peppers, then that is perfectly fine. When it comes to dehydrating Jalapeños, the next best thing after a dehydrator is the oven, so let’s take a look at how you would use this common household appliance to dehydrate your peppers. If possible, it is best to use a convection oven to dehydrate your peppers.
A lot of the steps for dehydrating your Jalapeños in the oven are the same as doing it in the dehydrator, so we won’t go into too much detail. But, before you do anything else, you will need to wash and dry your peppers.
You can then prepare them and cut them into your desired shape and thickness. After that, you should take an oven safe drying rack, and lay your Jalapeños along the tray, ensuring that none of them are touching. Just like you would to prepare them for the dehydrator.
After all of that preparation work is done, you should set your oven to the lowest temperature possible. This is why dehydrators have the advantage, as they are able to be set to the perfect temperature.
Whereas, most ovens have a minimum temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 25 degrees higher than the ideal temperature. However, you have to make do with what you have got. So, if you can’t set your oven to 125 degrees, set it to the next lowest temperature.
Then, all you have to do is add your tray of Jalapeños into the oven. Depending on what your low temperature is, it might take between 4 and 12 hours for the Jalapeños to dry completely. So, it is very important that you check the peppers regularly.
Once after 4 hours, and then in intervals after that. When your peppers have reached your desired texture, then remove them from the oven and store them in an airtight container for future use.
Dehydrating Jalapeño Peppers by Air Drying
When it comes to cooking, some people like to stick to the basics. Human beings have been cooking for centuries, and there are lots of methods that have been tried and tested, and simply work.
They might not be modern, and they might not use fancy technology, but as the saying goes, don’t try to fix something that ain’t broken. If you live by this motto, then you might choose to air dry your Jalapeños. This definitely isn’t the best method for dehydrating them, but it does work. So, let’s take a look at how you would do it.
But, before we get into that, it feels only right that we give a brief disclaimer about air drying. It might be the traditional method, but air drying takes a lot longer, and it isn’t always effective.
As we mentioned earlier, air drying isn’t suitable for areas that have high humidity. So, while you might want to use the traditional method, you really need to question if it is going to work before you use it.
There are two methods for air drying Jalapeños, the traditional way, and the modern way. Let’s have a look at how these work.
The Traditional Way
If you choose to stick with history, then you will need some string to air dry your peppers. If you have a covered outdoor area in your home, or a room that gets lots of air, then air drying might actually be the best option for you.
To do this, you will need to string your Jalapeños by poking a needle through them (next to the stem) to create a hole to insert the string through. Tie a knot in your string, then begin feeding it through the whole Jalapeños. When you reach the stem of each Jalapeño, tie a knot, and then insert another.
Once you have tied all of your Jalapeños onto the string, then you can hang the string in a drafty room, or your covered outdoor area. This method does take a lot longer, but within a week to 10 days, you should have dehydrated Jalapeños ready to enjoy.
The Modern Way
If you live in an area with high humidity, or do not want to wait as long, you can also air dry your Jalapeños using a fan. Yes, this is kind of cheating, but the end result when you air dry is much different to the end result when you dehydrate in a machine. This is why you might use this method.
To use this method, you will need to find a room in your home where you can create a fake draft. For this, a smaller room is best. Set up your Jalapeños on a tray, like you would to use them in an air dryer, then place them on a flat surface in the room. You should then set up your fan as close as possible, ensuring the fan is pointed directly at the tray.
You should then leave the fan running, and the Jalapeños on that tray for up to 3 days. So, be warned, this could be expensive for your electricity bill. During this time, you should enter the room and rotate the Jalapeños regularly to ensure that all sides of the Jalapeños are being dried.
This method will be great for dehydrating your Jalapeños until they reach a good texture to eat. But, if you want to dehydrate your Jalapeños ready for grinding, it will not be the best choice.
If you do decide that you want to grind your peppers after following this method, you should put them in the oven for a few hours to dry them down to a brittle consistency.
In short, this has been a complete guide to dehydrating Jalapeños, including how to do this using a dehydrator, oven, and air drying. Once dehydrated, Jalapeños will usually be safe to eat for roughly one year. This is as long as they are stored in an airtight container outside direct sunlight, and kept in a cool area.
While a year will usually be long enough to allow you to enjoy your Jalapeños, if you want them to last even longer, you should consider pickling or freezing them. But, in most cases, dehydrating Jalapeños will be a perfectly effective and safe way to make your Jalapeños last long enough for you to enjoy them.