Friday, October 16, 2015

Dehydrating Bell and Hot Peppers - WEAR GLOVES

I have posted recently about freezing peppers and also about making a "hot sauce" for cooking with them but I figured my posting wouldn't be complete without posting how to dehydrate them. If you read my blog, you know that I dehydrate everything so I figured if someone does a search about dehydrating hot peppers, I know how to do that so I should probably add it to the dehydrated posts. 

The reason I like dehydrated vegetables and fruits is that they take up minimal space. If you bottle it, you have to store the jars, if there is an earthquake, you may lose all your hard work, even if you are prepared. Also, if you don't get to eating the item in a year or two, you wouldn't want to eat it as the food gets darker and darker each year causing any food value to disappear.

I have had food that I dehydrated five to ten years ago and when I open it, if it was stored correctly, it is still as fresh as the ones I did a week ago. I did a taste test with my kids a few years ago and none of them could tell which was the old and which was the new. Here is a link to that post. 

With that, I like dried spices as you can add them to food storage items that may not have much flavor and spice it up literally. Rice, wheat, beans, lentils, oats and other grains taste quite dull without any flavor unless you have something to add that flavor. If times were hard, we would have the grains stored but how many spices? Vegetable to add? THIS is why I love dehydration. I can purchase freeze dried items. I can buy dehydrated items. For some reason, they all have preservatives in them. I have NEVER added anything to preserve my fruit or vegetables and they stay good as long as they are in an airtight container. In that linked above, you can see that my container of choice is Tupperware that doesn't smell. If it starts to smell, I dispose of it or trade it in for new. I always bag the item before putting it into the Tupperware so that I have two layers of protection against pests and water/air. With dehydration, even if there is an earthquake, the item can still be pulled out of the rubble even if the container is broken. May be a bit dusty but if I was hungry, I am sure I would eat it.

Back to the peppers. FIRST - WEAR GLOVES. Put a layer of olive oil on your hands, wear non-powdered gloves and then a new pair of kitchen gloves. Even after that, don't touch your eyes. Wash them again and if needed use hydrogen peroxide to get any oils from the peppers off your hands as it can still burn your eyes.  

After you have gloved up, wash the peppers. Then, cut them in half and use a spoon or knife to scrape out the seeds inside the pepper. If you want to have some spicy seeds for pizza or cooking, you can dehydrate the seeds on a non-stick mat used for fruit leather. Be careful NOT to touch any of them as they have oils in them and can burn. After dehydration, you can then used a coffee grinder to make it into a flour texture for adding to recipes however, DO NOT INHALE any of the powder or get it into your eyes. I would then put it into an old spice jar so you can dispense it easily but make sure you mark exactly what it is because you would hate for someone to think it was flour or some innocent spice and be burned.

In my world, it isn't worth the risk and time to go to that length. I have the spicy hot sauce I make to use for cooking spicy but the dried peppers are WONDERFUL in omelets. The color and texture it adds are great. It is also very good when making rice in a rice cooker. They rehydrate very well adding some flavor to the rice.   

Once you have washed, cut and removed the seeds, slice and dice the rest of the pepper removing any bad spots. 

WARNING - Rinsing them with warm or hot water can cause the spice to get into the air and irritate your lungs and eyes so use cool water when washing them. Also, DO NOT put your face near the dehydrator when it is on and if they are spicy peppers, you would want to dehydrate them outside or in a garage or some place where no one is living because the heat will make some of the pepper get into the air. I don't mind spicy smell in the air but more than just a few can really heat up the house. 

Also, never dehydrate anything else on the trays or same dehydrator as it will make anything on the trays smell like peppers. If you don't wash the trays after dehydrating them, you can make the new dehydrated item smell and taste like peppers. So, always wash the trays after dehydrating hot peppers. 

When turning them, use a fork or spatula to move them around on the tray for even drying so you don't get any pepper on your hands. 

When removing the peppers, use gloves once again when bagging the peppers so you don't get anything on your hands. I shared in another post about how the first time I did peppers, I didn't wear gloves not knowing the heat could hurt me. My hands burned for days. I couldn't touch most parts of my body and especially my face as I cut and cleaned peppers for a few hours. I won't make that mistake again. 

When using them in cooking, use a spoon to place them into the dish you are cooking unless the peppers aren't all that hot. With jalapeno, chili, habenero, and any other really hot pepper you would need to take care. These Anaheim peppers aren't the hottest but since I don't know what peppers you are doing, I would take all precautions to not burn yourself or kids, if you have it on your hands, you could pass it on to your kids when wiping their face etc. 

Happy and Spicy dehydrating! 

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