This post is dedicated in loving memory to one of my cyber-foodie friends, who passed away on October 9th. I was a follower of his food blog REMCooks, and cybernetically he was one of the kindest and sincere bloggers who loved both his family and cooking with the greatest of passion. Richard McGary was also very passionate about any kind of chile peppers. He loved to cook with any type of chile, and his blog has many recipes made with a variety of spicy hot peppers.
The idea to dry the jalapeños that were harvested from my jalapeño plant this year also came about by another food blogger who actually got to meet Richard once for a weekend of food and fun, Mimi from Chef Mimi Blog. After roasting and freezing some batches of Hatch and serrano chiles, I thought it would be neat to also have some dehydrated chiles on hand for soups, stews, and salad toppings.
This is not really so much a recipe, but a method. Here is what I did:
You can either harvest your own jalapeno plant, or simply buy some from the store. I actually had a mix of red (ripe) jalepeños, standard dark green ones, and some that were in the process of turning red left on my plant at harvest time. I like that I had the different colors for this.
Make sure you wear latex gloves or plastic sandwich bags over your hands, and whatever you do, don’t touch your face or eyes in this process!
First I sliced all the peppers thinly into rounds. I didn’t bother de-seeding them, as most of the seeds will fall down into the pan in the drying process.
The pepper slices were then arranged on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet, and placed into an oven set at 180 degrees. You might want to do this on a day you can open your windows, as after about an hour the house will get pretty spicy! Which of course did not bother me at all.
I left them in the oven until they were all completely dried out. This took about 2 1/2 hours. I would check them every half hour or so after the first hour to make sure they weren’t getting too crisp. You will want to make sure they are “dry” to the touch and have no wetness left in them at all.
When completely dried, I took them out of the oven and let them cool. I then poured the dried pepper slices into a cute half-pint jelly jar to store throughout the fall and winter. There! I’ve already used some in some black-eyed peas that I made for lunch one day. They rehydrate nicely when cooked in liquid, but would also be fun to add as a crunchy topping to taco salad.
And p.s. Richard, I hope you are in chile paradise wherever you are!