Updated May 11, 2020 – If you love cooking with habanero peppers, then you know that whole peppers are often the best way to go. They pack so much flavor, and can make a delicious addition to so many recipes and meals, whether you’re using them dried or fresh.
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Now, when you buy fresh habanero peppers, or even grow them yourself, sometimes you’ll end up with a surplus, and will need a good way to preserve them to keep them good longer.
Most people will agree that drying habaneros is a great way to preserve them. Here are some ideas for preserving your fresh habanero peppers.
Using the oven
One option for drying habaneros is using your kitchen oven.
Beware, this may not be something you want to do in your house in the summer. It can heat up your house or apartment for quite a while. You’re going to need to leave the oven on for hours, or in some cases even a full day or more.
Here is a step-by-step for how to dry habaneros in the oven:
Preheat your oven to the lowest possible setting.
Wash the peppers and dry them off thoroughly with a paper towel or cloth. Read here about my favorite kitchen towel!
Cut the peppers in half lengthwise (from the stem to the tip of the pepper).
Put the peppers across a baking sheet, cut-side down. I like these silicone baking sheet liners from Amazon. Nothing will stick ever again!
Place the baking sheet in the oven, and leave the oven door open a few inches to help keep the air moving around in there.
About once an hour, rotate and flip the peppers so they dry evenly all the way around. Save your fingers from the heat with these OXO locking tongs from Amazon.
Drying habaneros can take anywhere from a few hours to 10+ hours depending on their size.
When they’re fully dry, place them in an airtight container, and keep them somewhere out of direct light.
Congrats! You’ve dried your habanero peppers!
The oven is one of the easiest ways to dry your habanero peppers, but again, it can definitely heat up the kitchen, or even your whole house!
It’s also pretty labor-intensive, as you’re going to want to be able to regularly turn and flip the peppers so that they evenly dry. Otherwise you’re risking one side getting over-dried and burnt while the other side is still fleshy and fresh.
You may be looking for a more low-maintenance way to dry your habaneros. This next way will involve less time for you, but much more time to dry…
Hanging habaneros to dry
Another way to dry your habaneros without a dehydrator is to hang them up. You may have seen strings of dried or drying peppers in restaurants or homes. They’re not only a pretty decoration, they are also a practical way to dry fresh peppers!
Here is your guide for drying habanero peppers by hanging them up:
Make sure you have plenty of garden twine or string.
Clean your peppers, just like you would for any other kind of drying or cooking. Make sure you leave them whole and intact, you’re going to be using the stems still attached to the peppers.
Tie the string around the stem of each pepper, spacing them evenly several inches apart from each other.
Hang your string of peppers in a warm, well-ventilated area, ideally somewhere with sunlight. Outside is great if you can bring them in before a chance of rain, but an indoor spot can work too.
This method can take weeks to fully dry your peppers. You’ll need to be patient before you can enjoy these drying habaneros.
When the peppers are fully dry, you can store and enjoy them for several months to come!
Using a dehydrator
I know, I know, this article is titled “How to dry habanero peppers without a dehydrator,” but I always think you should know all of your options.
It’s important to note that while you totally can dry habaneros without using a dehydrator, you’re going to get consistently better results by using a dehydrator.
The process will be easier and faster, but it comes with a pretty hefty price tag. Dehydrators can be expensive. They’re a pretty high-end kitchen appliance.
The Nesco FD-80A Square-Shaped Dehydrator at Amazon is pocket-friendly. This is the kind of dehydrator that will make you work more comfortable and fun. Vegetables, fruits, meat, jerky and even herbs can be dried in this dehydrator. Its square shape provides more room for drying compared to round dehydrators. Food dries fast in this particular dehydrator because of its unique Converga- flow system. Some of its notable features include a unique air circulation system that also has a converge-flow system, a motor with a seven-hundred-watt capability that ensures that food dries in the shortest time.
If you know you’re going to be drying peppers regularly, or are interested in also drying other fresh fruit, veggies, and produce, you should seriously consider investing in a decent dehydrator. It’s going to make your life SO much easier!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are habanero peppers?
Habanero peppers are hot and small chili peppers that are short and mostly come in a red or orange color. These peppers are used in preparing sauces and salad dressings. They should never be left anywhere close to small children who may chew them, because of their scorching and hot effect.
How can you tell that habanero peppers are fresh while at the grocery store?
I would advise you to pick the bright green habanero peppers when you visit the grocery store for shopping. Sometimes you can ask the storekeeper to assist you in selecting the best quality for you, and this can help you reduce the time you spend in a grocery store trying to pick fresh pepper.
Is there any other way of preserving habanero peppers apart from dehydration, hanging out and the use of an oven?
Yes, there are many other methods of preserving Habanero Pepper that has tested and has given impressive results. You can freeze the peppers in a freezer for later use, or you can use olive oil in preserving the pepper, whereby you deep the peppers into the oil and let them stay there until when you find a use for them. The other way you can use in preserving Habanero Pepper is pickling, and you can immerse the pepper in vinegar and let it store there until when you need it for use.
How can I reduce the heat in a habanero pepper?
Most of the heat in this kind of pepper is within its innards and seeds. So if you want to reduce the heat, you can remove the innards and seeds of the Habanero Pepper. But you remember that this doesn’t get rid of the heat entirely but only reduces it.
What is the best way to handle habanero peppers?
Due to their burning effect, it is always advisable that you wear rubber gloves to protect your skin from being burnt. The other precaution you should take when handling Habanero pepper is to avoid rubbing your nose or eyes with the same hands that have touched the pepper. If you had already dried the pepper, you could soak them in water for about eleven minutes to allow them to rehydrate. Soaking will help soften the chili and make it easy for you to chop.
Drying habanero peppers can be a fun, effective way to preserve and keep one of your favorite ingredients around for much longer than you could if you kept only fresh peppers.
Whether you have a surplus crop of habaneros you grew, find you overbought fresh peppers, or even just want to try something new in the kitchen, this is a great way to save those peppers and do something fun.
If you’re looking to keep on drying in the future, consider getting yourself a dehydrator, but until then, now you have some great options on how to preserve your habanero peppers.