Alright, now it’s time to show you why a girl who isn’t crazy about spicy foods is suddenly so excited about drying hot peppers …
Today, I’m going to show you how to use dried peppers to make crushed pepper flakes. Next week, I’ll show you how to use them to make three more common spices that everyone keeps in their spice rack (even can’t-take-the-heat girls, like me).
So, let’s get this pepper-fest started, shall we?
How to Make Crushed Pepper Flakes
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook time: 24 – 72 hrs
What You Need:
Dried hot peppers (any variety will do)
A spice grinder
A spice jar
A wide-mouth canning funnel (optional)
What You Do:
Start by drying your hot peppers. If you missed my post on that, you’ll find it here. Traditionally, pepper flakes are made with red peppers, but there’s no reason you can’t make them with green peppers. In fact, making your own pepper flakes gives you the opportunity to choose a pepper that matches your heat tolerance. I used jalapeno peppers because they’re on the milder end of the hot pepper spectrum, and because, well, I got a bunch of them for free.
Put some gloves on before you handle your peppers. Now that they’re dry, the Capsaicin will be more concentrated than ever.
Once you’re gloved, toss the first handful of dried peppers into a spice grinder. I own three cheapie spice grinders (one for coffee, one for spices and one for hot peppers – each one is clearly labeled). This prevents unfortunate flavor transfer. Trust me, you don’t want to use your coffee grinder to grind your hot peppers. Hot pepper flavored coffee may wake you up, but it won’t be a pleasant experience. I found my coffee/spice grinders at yard sales, but even new ones are fairly inexpensive. I have two of these Proctor Silex grinders, if you’re looking for a recommendation.
Put the lid on your grinder, and pulse the peppers several times to turn them into flakes (with a continuous motion, you run the risk of turning them to powder). Allow the dust to settle for a minute, before you open the lid to check your progress. You don’t want to end up with a nose full of hot pepper dust. Not fun.
Once you’re happy with the consistency, transfer the pepper flakes to a jar, and repeat the process until all of your peppers have been processed.
Here’s how to make your own spice jar to store your crushed peppers in.
Shake your jar at least once a day for the first week to evenly distribute any moisture through the jar. This will keep your crushed pepper flakes from molding in storage.
How to Clean You Spice Grinder
If you only have one coffee/spice grinder, be sure to clean it thoroughly before you use it to grind something else. Even if you have dedicated grinders (like me), it’s a good idea to deep-clean them before you put them away for the season. The oil from the foods you’re grinding will eventually go rancid, and you don’t want that flavor to transfer to next season’s harvest. Here’s an easy way to clean your grinders.
- Hot peppers (cayenne, jalapeno — any type will do)
Cut the stems off the peppers. If they’re large peppers, cut them in half, so they’ll dry faster; but be sure to leave the seeds. Small peppers don’t need to be cut in half.
Arrange the peppers in your dehydrator.
Dry for 24-72 hrs. The peppers are done when they feel leathery and bone dry.
Load peppers into a spice grinder in batches. Pulse several times to turn them into pepper flakes. Don’t hold the button down continuously, or you’ll turn them into powder. Allow the contents to settle before you open the lid, so you don’t get a nose full of pepper.
Store your crushed pepper flakes in an air-tight container. Be sure to shake the jar once a day for the first week. This will help to evenly distribute any remaining moisture, so your peppers don’t mold.
Wear gloves when you’re handling peppers, to protect your hands from the Capsaicin.
I recommend using a dedicated spice grinder for pepper grinding, so your coffee and other spices don’t end up tasting like pepper.
Red peppers are traditionally used for crushed pepper flakes, but you can also use green peppers. Choose one that matches your heat tolerance.
Want to tuck some of your crushed pepper flakes into a gift basket? Use these printable labels to spruce up the jars.