We are now at the stage in the season, where most of us harvest our Chillies. It is the time of year when we need to decide how we will use them. We can make pickles, jams, relishes, Chilli oils, and Chilli sauces. Alternatively, we can preserve them either by freezing or drying
Drying Chillies is a particularly good way to preserve Chillies. This can be done in a dehydrator or alternatively in an oven. Electric dehydrators are a particularly good way to dry Chillies. A dehydrator can be purchased relatively inexpensively online for between £50 and £60. They generally consist of a dehydrating unit, which has a fan, and multi-tier drying trays with metal or plastic mesh bases, which are used to dehydrate Chillies
To use this type of dehydrator, simply place whole Chillies in dehydrating trays on top of the dehydrator and place the lid on. Set the temperature to about sixty degrees Celsius, and turn on the dehydrator. After between eight and twelve hours, the Chillies will be dry. Remove them from the tray and pack them into airtight jars for later use.
There are more expensive dehydrators that can be used to dry Chillles. They resemble mini ovens, complete with thermostats, drying shelves and a glass door. They are however somewhat more expensive and cost anywhere from £200 or more
Oven and natural dying
Rather than going to the expense of buying one of the dehydrating ovens mentioned, it is possible to successfully dry Chillies in the oven, which forms part of your cooker. To dry Chillies in your oven, cut the Chillies lengthwise and place them on a tray. They should be evenly spaced. Let them dry at a very low temperature (between fifty-five and sixty degrees Celsius) for between six and eight hours. Once they are dried, they should also be packed into an airtight jar and stored until they are ready for use.
During the summer months, Chillies can be dried naturally by placing them on a sunny window. The best way to do this is to place them in a tray and coat them with a thin layer of oil. Turn them every couple of days until they are dry.
When drying Chillies in the sun, it is best to use varieties with thinner skins. Varieties with thicker skin stand the chance of rotting, so it is best to avoid them
This method of drying is only possible in summer, as days of steady successive sunlight are required for the Chillies to dry out successfully. It is not feasible to dry them in this way at this time of the year, as sunshine is intermittent at best
A great way of using dried Chillies is to grind them into flakes using a grinder. Once the Chillies have been ground, store them in a glass container or shaker to add flavour to foods.