Drying chillies in the oven
The fastest way to dry fresh chillies is in the oven. After only three to eight hours, you can process your chilli peppers into powder or chilli flakes after drying. Chillies of different varieties dry at different speeds. Thin-walled chillies such as de Arbol or Cayenne are best suited.
Paprika with thick flesh needs a little more time. You can dry practically any chili in the oven. Air-circulation ovens are the most suitable. Only a few steps are necessary.
Home-grown chillies from controlled cultivation are ideal. Ripe chillies taste hellish good when freshly harvested. With proper drying, their aroma and spiciness become even more intense. If you buy chilli in the Asia Shop or from a vegetable retailer, choose deep red pods with a firm, shiny surface.
First wash the chillies under running water. Wipe the drops off the chillies with a kitchen towel. Cut off the stem and calyx with a clean knife.
With some varieties it is practical to pull off the chalice. Part of the seeds will stick to it. Rolling the chilli pepper between your fingers makes this even easier. Cut the chilli pepper in two halves. Some do not like the seeds. With chilli flakes, chili seeds will not interfere any further. With chili powder it is more convenient to remove most of the seeds. Strip the seeds out with a knife.
Prepare a baking tray. Cover with baking paper or aluminium foil. Aluminium foil later has the advantage that you can form it into a funnel. This makes it easier to decant the dried flakes. The tray is laid out so that the chillies do not stick to it. Glossy side of the foil upwards.
Place the chillies lengthwise on the baking tray. The skin side down, the flesh up. Leave space between the chilli halves so that the warm air can circulate well.
Slide the baking trays into the oven. Turn on the convection oven and slowly increase the heat. The temperature should not exceed 100°C. 80 °C is ideal for drying chillies. Keep in mind that many ovens do not have the right temperature. If you are unsure, use an oven thermometer. The wonderful aroma of the chilli peppers changes when the heat is too high. Then they will turn black too quickly.
A wooden spoon helps you to leave the oven lid open for about 2 cm. Excess moisture can escape from it. Leave the kitchen window open if sharp fumes develop.
Check the temperature every hour. Timing is important for good chili powder. When turning, mix the pods. Be careful with the hotter chilli varieties. They can rob you of air when you open the oven. Hot chillies may give off a stinging steam. Depending on how thick or thin-walled the varieties are, they dry differently.
Most chilli varieties require about 8 hours at 80°C. If red chillies are dry enough, they change to an even deeper tone. When pressed, they crackle and can easily be crumbled. Now is the time to take the dried chillies out of the oven. Wait until the baking trays have cooled down.
Sort out the peppers that are not completely dried. The non-dry pieces can still be bent. Either put them back in the oven or put them in an oil bottle for chili oil.
If you want to make chilli flakes, for example for pizza, put the chillies in a sealable freezer bag. Crush the bag by hand until you have the correct flake size. Use a label to label the bag so you know the type of chili and how hot it is next year.
For chilli powder, put the dried chilli in a mixer or coffee grinder.
Not too much at once. Pour the contents through a sieve. Too large pieces go back to the mill with new pieces. Wear a face mask to avoid inhaling chilli dust. Keep the ground powder in a stylish, lockable spice tin. Tip: Habaneros are beautifully hot and wonderful as chili powder.
That you wear gloves when working with chillies. Do not touch your eyes or sensitive parts of your body. Capsaicin will stick invisibly to your hands even after a few hand washes. Think of protecting your mouth and eyes. You can’t joke with a King Naga Chili, Scotch Bonnet, or similar fiery varieties.