We had an absolute bumper crop of chili peppers this year - we eaten, given, frozen many yet I still had a glut of chilies on the plants that needed to be harvested as the parent plants were fading fast. I didn't want to freeze any more than we already had since we're space limited (in-fridge freezer only) plus there is limited potential in smushy thawed chilies. I didn't have enough to merit the effort of proper pickling. Of course, I didn't want to waste them either. My solution to the dilemma? Homemade chili flakes! So easy!
Simply wash well and dry, remove the stems, split lengthwise (to accelerate drying), and pop them in a dehydrator on the fruit/veggie setting. Mine were mostly green, but I used all of the various mixed hot peppers left hanging around on my plants. If you don't have a dehydrator (see below), you can use your oven at low temp for a similar effect - fan forced works best. Tip: If you have a fruit leather tray, place this in the bottom of your dehydrator to catch any seeds that may fall during the process so they can be saved for adding back in during processing. Once fully dried, pop them into a food processor/blender/grinder, blend until you have the desired coarseness, and transfer into a jar for storage (a large mouth funnel is a handy helper). Remember, don't touch your face at anytime whilst handling the chilies or chili flakes, and don't inhale when you pop the top on that food processor...aieee! Use to add as little or as much heat as you wish to your dishes. If you are feeling particularly cheeky, you could also mix in some salt, garlic, and other goodies to create your own special spice blend - perfect for homemade gifts. I added some coarsely ground salt to mine and we're loving it. What are some of your favourite ways of preserving your home garden harvest?
Basic food dehydrators are inexpensive, versatile, and more energy efficient than using your oven so if you are keen to dehydrate on a regular investment, they're a very handy home kitchen appliance. I never expected to use mine so much when we first bought it, but it gets a workout and runs wonderfully despite being "just a cheapie". I use it for flowers, herbs, food (like this post), and it's AWESOME for making healthy homemade dog treats. Check out your local retailers or browse online: