How To Preserve Chillies Using Dehydration

One of the great aspects of chillies is their versatility. They can be used and preserved in many ways. There are many methods for preserving chillies that include anything from pickling to freezing. But for their best long term preservation, dehydration is the preferred method. The following information provides tips and trick on how to dehydrate chillies for maximum use and safe storage.

Chillies can be dehydrated by hanging them outside, drying them slowly in a low-temperature oven or in a food dehydrator. However, using a food dehydrator is the best method for several reasons. Chillies that are hung outside will often not dehydrate evenly, especially in very humid climates, and can be ruined by mold and mildew. Although placing chillies in an oven with low temperatures will dry them, this method often tends to cook, instead of dry, the chillies and can easily turn the flesh dark in color. A good electric food dehydrator will assure that the chillies are dried evenly and that the flesh retains its natural color.

Before dehydrating chillies there are several things to keep in mind. First, and most important, is to handle chillies carefully; especially the hotter varieties. Wash hands often during handling and never place your hands near your nose or eyes after cutting. Pepper spray is made from the essence of hot chillies and their natural juices can have the same effect on your nose, eyes and throat.

Second, keep in mind that green chillies do not dehydrate well. They turn black and rot easily during the drying process. The only good way to dry green chillies is using the pasado technique, which involves roasting on a grill and removing the flesh.

Before preparing the chillies for dehydration, sort through them and remove any with black spots as these will usually become moldy or rot even after dehydration. Always wash the chillies thoroughly before preparing them before drying.

All chillies must be cut in half or cut into strips for proper dehydration. Leaving the stems, pith and seeds in place is a matter of personal choice. Leaving the seeds in place will result in hotter flavors.

Set the temperature on the the dehydrator to between 113 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit and preheat for about ten minutes. Always place the chillies inside-up on a tray before placing them in the dehydrator.

The length of drying time will vary based on many factors. These include the amount and type of chillies you are drying, external temperatures and humidity levels, the altitude of the area in which you live and the power of the dehydrator. Don’t worry that you will dry them too long. Dehydrating is a slow process. It normally takes at least eight hours for most varieties of chillies to dehydrate. You will know they are dried when they snap instead of bend with a rubbery feel. You should be able to find more information on drying times and proper temperature settings in the instruction manual that came with your dehydrator.

After the chillies are dried, they are best stored in airtight containers placed away from direct sunlight. It is important to keep dried chillies away from moisture and sunlight as both of these elements can shorten shelf life. Unless you intend to freeze them, do not store dried chillies in plastic bags. Most plastic bags allow oxygen to pass through, which will break down the chillies very quickly due to oxidation.

Dried chillies can be used whole, cut into smaller pieces or ground into a powder using a coffee grinder or food processor. Again, a word of warning. If you grind them, be very careful when handling the powder and make sure the grinder has a secure lid in place before grinding begins. For the hotter varieties, it is best to wear gloves when handling the powder. To reconstitute dried chillies, soak them in hot water for at least ten minutes.