How to Dehydrate Peppers to Preserve the Harvest
How to dehydrate Peppers and other summer foods and preserve the harvest into fall.
My family has a lot of food restrictions. Especially my 5 year old. She actually will eat nearly every food that she tolerates unlike many 5 year olds. Unfortunately it is still quite restricted. One of her favorite foods is red pepper. Conventional red pepper is one of the worst foods as far as pesticide residue is concerned and so since it is a larger than average portion of her diet and her health is so fragile, it is important that the peppers that she eats are organic. In the wintertime it can be difficult to find organic red peppers and they are very expensive as well. Last summer we got a lot of peppers in our CSA boxes. More than she could eat in a week when the season was in full swing. The rest of us like to save those peppers for her since they are such a treat and since she is so limited in her other choices so I began to cut them up and dehydrate them. She loved the dehydrated peppers! I only managed to get about 2 qt jars filled with them last year and even being careful to only use the dehydrated peppers when I couldn’t find fresh ones her supply quickly disappeared. This year I decided to do something different. I requested a half bushel box of colored peppers from our CSA to get all at once so that I could then make her a lot of dehydrated peppers for the coming winter.
I washed and sliced the peppers into slices that were a generous ¼ inch thick. I did this either as rounds or as long slices. The peppers shrink quite a bit so I wanted them substantial enough to be easy to eat as a finger food. But there is a limit to the size they can be and fit on the trays in my dehydrator so finding that sweet spot took a little bit of trial and error
I have an excalibur dehydrator (affiliate link) that I use all the time and especially in the summer when we have produce to save for winter. I got done filling the excalibur and still had quite a few peppers remaining! Thankfully they will keep for a week or more in the fridge so I still had some time.
A half bushel of peppers carefully loaded as close together as possible on the trays of a 9 try Excalibur dehydrator fills it up about 1.5 times. As you can see I had some cherry tomatoes that I put in there too.
It takes 24-48 hours with the dehydrator set at 125 to get them completely dry and ready to store. This will vary depending on the humidity in your home as well as the thickness of the peppers that you have to dehydrate. Dehydrating at 125 the peppers will stay cool enough to remain raw (they are raw till 118 and although the air in the dehydrator gets up to 125 the food in it will remain several degrees cooler.)
Here they are after about 18 hours. You can see that they are much smaller but not quite done. Also the thicker yellow peppers have not dried out nearly as much as the thinner orange ones.
My half bushel of dehydrated peppers fit into about 5 qt mason jars for storage. I will vacuum seal the jars to keep the peppers fresh until we are ready to eat them. You could also put them I plastic bags in the freezer to keep them fresh if you were worried about pests or moisture getting into the containers.
We will use these exclusively for snacking on. You could also use them in a soup or any cooked dish that will rehydrate the peppers in the process. Since we don’t really care for cooked peppers here I rarely add them to recipes anyhow.
What are your favorite foods to preserve for the winter? Do you dehydrate any of them?