Cayenne pepper is one of the most popular spices used to give food a fiery kick and, while it may be able to turn up the heat from just a pinch, it does very little to overwhelm the flavors of the main ingredients – which is one of the main reasons why it can be found in kitchens around the world!
If you have your own cayenne pepper patch at home, then it’ll be up to you how you’d like to use them within your dishes. The great thing about cayenne peppers is that, much like bell peppers, you have plenty of versatility when it comes to eating them.
You can have them fresh, fry them into a pan, or even dry them out to make them into seasoning powder or flakes.
Cayenne peppers are one of the hottest peppers around, which makes them an ideal choice for turning into a spicy seasoning power.
If you’re interested in turning your homegrown or shop-bought cayenne peppers into spicy flakes or ground powder – then this is the article for you.
Below, we’re going to be talking you through how to correctly dehydrate your peppers, as well as how to then turn them into seasoning powder. Along the way, we’ll also be providing you with some additional tips, including storage advice.
How To Dry Cayenne Peppers:
In order to turn your cayenne peppers into flakes or powder, then you’re first going to need to decide how you would like to dry them out. Read on to discover the two main methods:
Method One: Use a Dehydrator:
By far one of the easiest ways to dehydrate your food is through using something that is known as a dehydrator. Essentially, a dehydrator is a type of mini oven that is specifically built to be able to dry out different types of foods, including bell and cayenne peppers.
Due to this, unlike regular ovens, dehydrators operate at low temperatures to ensure that the food does not get burned, and instead fills the air with a dry heat that pulls moisture out.
A dehydrator is definitely a great option to consider if you plan on frequently drying out cayenne peppers and want the convenience of a specialized oven that’s going to be able to do all of the hard work for you.
They’re especially good for people who lead busy lives and don’t have a whole lot of time to spare throughout the week.
In addition to that, a dehydrator oven can be used for a variety of different foods and will give you the versatility to use it for way more than simply drying out peppers.
As an example, many people use dehydrator ovens to make healthy snacks for themselves and their family in place of processed food – dried-out cranberries are delicious!
If you’re interested in purchasing one and need a reliable recommendation, the Excalibur Electric Food Dehydrator is one of the best dehydrators on the market.
Unlike other dehydrators on the market, this awesome model features a viewing window that will allow you to keep an eye on the progress of your cayenne peppers without opening the door and disrupting the drying process.
What’s more, it even comes with a 48-hour digital timer that will be able to speed up the time needed to dehydrate your peppers, while its maximum temperature limit of 115-118 degrees will ensure that the nutritional value will remain the same, as no enzymes or nutrients will be lost.
Drying Out Cayenne Pepper in a Dehydrator: Step-by-Step Instructions:
1. Prepare your cayenne peppers: Regardless of whether you have your very own cayenne peppers growing in your garden or you prefer to simply buy them from your local grocery store, prior to putting them in the dehydrator, you’re going to need to properly prepare them.
Make sure that you choose ones that look healthy, and then give them a proper clean under a tap of cold water. Before doing this, make sure that you pop on a pair of disposable gloves – otherwise, your hands might burn!
2. Cut your cayenne pepper: Carefully remove the stems of your cayenne pepper (first making sure to have your disposable gloves on) and then proceed to take a cutting knife and slice the peppers in half.
Cayenne peppers can sometimes come in funny shapes which might make them tricky to cut, so be extra careful when carrying out this step.
3. Remove the seeds: Take a spoon and carefully remove all of the seeds in the middle of your cayenne pepper, as you won’t need them to make your powder. If you like, you can either choose to dispose of them or save them to be replanted.
4. Place your peppers on the oven tray: Your dehydrator will have trays inside it, so the next thing you will need to do is to carefully rearrange all of your peppers that you want to use on them.
While doing this, make sure that you’re leaving enough space in between each cayenne pepper so that air can circulate around each one.
5. Dehydrate for around 6 hours: Then, all you will need to do is place the trays inside the oven for around 6 hours at maximum temperature, making sure to check them periodically.
As a side note, it’s worth noting that cayenne peppers have a tendency to dehydrate at a much faster rate than other types of peppers, so if they are stiff and crack when you bend them, you can take them out of the oven.
After your cayenne peppers have dried, you can then proceed to grind them down into a powder or break them up into little flakes if you prefer.
Additionally, if you’re wondering why it’s important to remove your seeds prior to placing them in the dehydrator oven, the main reason for this is that they tend to be more difficult to grind down into a powder than the other parts of the cayenne pepper.
However, when left in, they do tend to make cayenne powder spicier, which is something to keep in mind if you don’t mind putting in a little extra elbow grease to grind your dried peppers into powder!
Method Two: Use an Oven:
If you don’t own a dehydrator, or simply want an alternative way to dry out your cayenne peppers, then another way that you can do this is by simply using your regular kitchen oven.
Before you try out this method, it’s important to keep in mind that this option does come with a few drawbacks as your kitchen oven has not been designed with food dehydration in mind.
Due to this, it means that the temperature will not be as low as a dehydrator oven and will be less effective at circulating air, which could lead to longer drying times (upwards of 10 hours) and discoloration of your cayenne peppers.
Nevertheless, the good news is that the flavor and dryness level of your cayenne peppers will turn out just the same as the way they would if you were to use a dehydrator oven so, if you don’t mind dealing with the longer drying times and potential discoloration caused by using a cooking oven, then this might be the perfect drying method for you.
Follow the steps below to try it out for yourself:
Drying Out Cayenne Pepper in an Oven: Step-by-Step Instructions:
1. Prepare your cayenne peppers: Whether you’ve purchased cayenne peppers from your local grocery store or they’re homegrown, the first thing that you’ll need to do prior to drying them is to give them a good clean.
To make sure all dirt and debris are off the surface of the peppers, we recommend running them under a cold tap for a few moments.
2. Put on a pair of gloves: As we’re sure you already know, cayenne peppers are hot, which means that they can have a tendency to cause a burning sensation while handling them!
To avoid any burns, put on a pair of disposable gloves that will be able to protect your skin from coming in contact with the cayenne peppers.
3. Remove the stems: After you’ve cleaned your cayenne peppers, the next step is to cut off their stems and slice them in half. While doing this step, be extremely careful not to cut your hands accidentally, as cayenne peppers can be tricky to slice due to their often uneven shapes.
4. Remove the seeds: When it comes to dehydrating cayenne peppers, most people prefer to remove the seeds as this makes it a whole lot easier to grind them down into a powder.
However, this is totally optional and you can choose to leave the seeds in the peppers if you wish – especially if you want a super fiery taste!
5. Place your peppers on an open-bottom tray: While dehydrating your cayenne peppers in your kitchen oven, you’ll need to ensure that your peppers can be dried evenly, and the best way to do this is by using a tray or rack that is open-bottomed.
Whichever you choose to use, it’s important to make sure that you double-check that it’s safe to be used in an oven, as not all trays are made to withstand high temperatures.
Additionally, if you’re using a rack (the type with bars) then we recommend placing a sheet of baking paper across the bottom, otherwise, your peppers might fall through as they shrink and shrivel in size.
6. Dehydrate your peppers: After you’ve prepared your peppers and they’ve all been placed onto your chosen tray/rack, double-check that they each have enough space in between them to ensure that each pepper is able to evenly become dehydrated.
Once you’ve done that, you can then proceed to place your oven at the lowest temperature, and then allow your peppers to dehydrate for around 14 hours.
Keep in mind that your peppers might become mildly cooked during this process, which could cause them to become a deeper color.
If you have a convection oven, it might only take around 6 hours for the cayenne peppers to dehydrate, so we recommend that you regularly check on them every hour or so, as this will prevent them from being burnt to a crisp!
After your cayenne peppers have completely dehydrated, you can then choose to either store them in an airtight container or proceed to immediately turn them into cayenne powder.
If your choice is the latter, continue on to our next section for advice on how to turn your cayenne peppers into powder.
How To Turn Dried Cayenne Peppers Into Powder:
As soon as you’ve dehydrated your cayenne peppers using one of the two methods above, you’ll then be ready to go ahead and turn them into powder.
In order to make cayenne powder correctly, you’ll first need to ensure that you’re using peppers that are totally dehydrated. Bend each one, and if they snap in half, then you’ll know that your peppers are totally dried out.
Turning Dried Cayenne Peppers Into Powder: Step-by-Step Instructions:
1. Place your dehydrated cayenne peppers inside a food processor or grinder: If you have a food processor, then you can use this as a way to grind up your cayenne peppers. However, if you want a fine blend of cayenne powder, then we recommend using a spice grinder.
2. Grind the dried cayenne peppers: Grind your cayenne peppers until you are happy with the consistency.
If you are using an electric grinder, then we recommend covering it with a towel prior to grinding, as grinders can emit particles that can irritate your eyes and throat.
If you’re using a manual grinder, then make sure you’re doing it in an open, well-ventilated area to help rid the space of any cayenne particles that escape while you’re grinding them into a powder.
3. Store it: Once you are happy with your cayenne powder, you should then store it in an airtight container, ensuring that you keep it away from direct sunlight. If stored correctly, then you can expect your cayenne powder to last upwards of one year.