I read a blog post somewhere in the ether about drying peppers. Bell peppers. Capsicums. Cool, I thought. I am doing tomatoes today, so maybe next week I will do peppers. Note, they are called capsicums in my part of the world while many other parts of the world call them peppers.
Off I went to The Farmers’ Market and grabbed a big bag of multi coloured capsicums. Fabulously shiny and crisp, crunch ripe. Yum.
Ok, where is that recipe? How do you find a recipe when you have hundreds of favourite food blogs??? Yes, I know that is far too many, but I love to read about and explore food.
I even offered a prize for the first to find me the recipe. Shame shame, no-one claimed the prize.
So in desperation I sat and went through my Top Ten Most Favourite blogs. What should I search for? Drying Peppers? Drying Capsicums? Oh, so stressful.
Around about the same time, Padma from Padma’s Kitchen was talking about char-grilled capsicums - you know, when you blacken the skin on the stove-top or under the griller, remove the skin and either put the peeled pepper strips in oil or use them immediately in salads, risottos, pasta dishes, antipasto plates, savoury tarts, and so on…. I love char-grilled capsicums a real lot – red ones especially
I really recommend that you have a look at both posts – good discussions and photos of the journey of cooking and drying peppers. Here are my notes on drying capsicums.
Using Dried Capsicums
Straight from the Farm has some fabulous ideas for using dried capsicums.
There are several different points at which the capsicums can be removed from the oven for quite different results, flavours and textures.
You can remove some of the capsicums half way through the drying process for delicious, slightly sweet, semi-dried capsicums, just right for tarts, pasta, risottos, salads and eating on their own. About 3/4 way through, remove some and cover with good quality virgin olive oil, for similar use over the next few weeks. They make great snacks and can also be used in the same way as semi dried tomatoes. Leave the rest to dry to completion until all moisture is removed and they are intensely flavoured little bites. Store in zip lock bags (a la Straight from the Farm‘s instructions) or grind to a powder.
Either way, they make great, chewy and flavoursome snacks, can be used in soups, risottos, salads, pasta sauces, lentil dishes, tarts, pies, toppings … the opportunities are endless.
The completely dried capsicums can also be ground into a powder. Grind them in a spice grinder, with a mortar and pestle, or in a blender. When ground, they can be incorporated in any sort of preparations, such as pasta and bread dough. Sprinkle them into vegetable dishes, risotto and other rice dishes. Include in salad dressings, dips, salsas and dukhas.
Notes on the process
The real surprise for me is that during the drying process, the capsicums became sort of sticky. I am not a food scientist, but I guess that it is caused by the caramelisation of the sugars in the capsicums. The taste became really very sweet as well. They are excellent to use at this time, semi dried, slightly sticky and sweet.
Whole chillies can also be dried this way. Remove the top, shake out any loose seeds, place on a tray and dry for around 4 – 6 hours.
So intensely sweet! This was a surprise. And so intensely capsicumy peppery!
Drying Capsicums, Bell Peppers and Chillies
Wash the peppers, capsicums or chillies. Remove the top from the chillies but otherwise leave the chillies whole. For the capsicums, remove the core – the tops and seeds. Quarter them and remove any of the white flesh along the ribs.
Heat the oven to 50C. Place the quartered capsicums on foil on a tray and place in the middle of the oven. They can dry overnight (although the aroma might drive you crazy while you are trying to sleep), or during the day. If during the day, turn them every 60 or so minutes. Dry for 8 – 10 hours.
If you wish, remove some of the capsicums half way through the drying process for delicious, slightly sweet, semi-dried capsicums, about 3/4 way through, remove some more and cover with good quality virgin olive oil. Leave the rest to dry to completion.
Yum! Eat! Play! Enjoy!