Cayenne peppers are commonly grown in the home garden. The peppers are decorative on the plant and full of robust flavor when used to spice up a favorite culinary dish. Harvest cayenne peppers when the peppers are fully ripe and have turned from green to bright red, as peppers are best when allowed to ripen on the plant. Cayenne peppers dry easily and no prep work is needed, other than a quick rinse to remove garden dust. When thoroughly dried and properly stored, cayenne peppers are unaffected by mold.
Dry cayenne peppers in a food dehydrator or in your oven. Rinse the cayenne peppers to remove any dust, then use a paring knife to cut a small slit in each pepper. Spread the peppers in a single layer on your dehydrator's rack. To dry cayenne peppers in the oven, spread the peppers on a baking pan or cookie sheet. Turn the temperature of your dehydrator or oven to between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn the peppers with a spatula at least once every hour to promote even drying. Drying in an oven or dehydrator can take up to a day.
Dry cayenne peppers outdoors if daytime temperatures are above 85 degrees F. Slit small cayenne peppers and cut large peppers in half lengthwise. Place the peppers one layer deep on a screen or drying rack. Cover the peppers with netting or cheesecloth to keep pests away from the peppers. Bring the peppers indoors during the night. Drying time takes at least several days, but varies widely depending on air temperature humidity and size of the peppers.
Air-dry cayenne peppers by hanging the peppers in a dry, well-ventilated room. To air dry peppers, first rinse the peppers, or wipe them with a clean, damp cloth. Thread a large needle with dental floss, fishing line or sturdy thread such as carpet thread. Insert the needle through the stem end of each pepper and string the peppers together. Hang the peppers on a nail or hook. Drying may take up to a month, depending on room temperature.
Dry cayenne peppers until the peppers are dry and shriveled and the color has deepened to deep red. Crumble or grind the dry peppers, then store the peppers in a tightly sealed, airtight container. Store the peppers in a dry, well-ventilated spot. A dark spot is best, as sunlight quickly fades the red color of the peppers.
Things You'll Need
Dehydrator rack, baking pan or cooking sheet
Screen or drying rack
Netting or cheesecloth
Dental floss, fishing line or sturdy thread
Always wear gloves when working with cayenne peppers, as the hot peppers can burn your skin. Never touch your eyes. Wash your hands with plenty of soap and hot water after working with peppers, even if you wear gloves.
- Iowa State University Extension: Drying Hot Peppers
- Texas A&M University: Preserving Peppers
- Oregon State University Extension: Preserving Foods: Peppers
- University of California Cooperative Extension: Pepper (Capsicum Annuum)
- Happy News: How to Dry Your Own Chili Peppers
- University of California Extension: Peppers: Safe Methods to Store, Preserve and Enjoy