Cayenne pepper is a definite pantry staple. It’s used in chili recipes, in taco seasoning and in so many other dishes that call for a little heat. So, today, I’m going to show you how to grind your own. If you don’t have any cayenne peppers, just use whatever hot pepper you do have (I’ve been using jalapenos with great results).
How to Make Ground Hot Pepper
24 – 72 hrs
What You Need:
Dried hot peppers
A spice grinder
An empty spice jar
A wide-mouth funnel
What You Do:
First step: dry your hot peppers. You’ll find complete instructions here.
Be sure to pull on a pair of gloves to protect your hands from the Capsaicin in the peppers. It can be pretty irritating stuff.
I use an inexpensive coffee/spice grinder to grind my peppers. As I’ve mentioned before, I actually own three – one for spices, one for coffee and one for hot peppers (and they’re each labeled, so I don’t mix them up). That’s because the oils in these foods tend to cling to the grinder, and if you use one for everything, at some point your coffee starts to taste like hot peppers and your hot peppers start to taste like coffee. Bleck!
All three of my grinders came from yard sales, so it’s definitely worth looking for some second-hand. But even if you have to buy one new, you won’t spend much. I own two of these Proctor Silex grinders, plus the Braun one that you see above. I’m equally happy with all of them, so I think one low-end grinder is probably as good as the next.
And now to get down to business … Grab a handful of dried peppers with your gloved hand, and toss them into your spice grinder. Then, put the lid on, and flip the switch. Let it go until you stop hearing big flakes hitting the sides of the grinder. Then, turn it off, and allow the dust to settle for a minute before you open it. Take care not to inhale deeply when you remove the lid. You Do Not want to end up with hot pepper powder in your nose!
The goal is to grind your peppers to a fine powder, like you see here. If you still see bigger pieces, put the lid back on; and grind them a little longer.
Once you’re happy with the texture of your powdered peppers, transfer them to a jar. I stick my wide-mouth canning funnel on top of the jar to prevent spills.
Repeat the process with your remaining peppers. Then, pop the lid on your jar, and add a label, so you don’t mistake your hot peppers for something else. Here are some free labels you can use.
Shake the jar once a day (more often is better) for the first week, so any moisture that was left in the peppers is evenly distributed throughout the powder. This will ensure it stores well.Print
- Hot peppers (cayenne, jalapeno, etc. — any variety will do)
Cut the stems off your peppers. Slice large peppers (like jalapenos) in half. Small peppers don’t need to be sliced. Be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands from the Capsaicin.
Load your peppers into a dehydrator.
Dry for 24-72 hours. The peppers will feel leathery and bone dry when they’re done.
Use a spice grinder to grind your peppers into a fine powder. Work in batches until all of your peppers are ground. Let the dust settle before you open the lid, so you don’t inhale pepper powder.
Store your hot pepper powder in an air-tight container. Shake the jar once a day for the first week to evenly distribute any remaining moisture.
Use in place of the cayenne pepper powder called for in any recipe.
Consider using a designated spice grinder for grinding hot peppers, so your coffee doesn’t end up tasting like hot peppers.
You can also dry smaller hot peppers by stringing them up in a warm, dry room for three weeks or so. Just use a needle to feed a string through their stems.
How to Clean Your Spice Grinder
I wipe out the inside of my grinders after each use, but I also do a deep-cleaning before I put them away for the season. The oils left behind by the ground foods will eventually go rancid, so it’s important to remove them. Here’s a really simple way to clean your grinder(s).
More Pepper Recipes