How to Dry Jalapenos and Make Jalapeno Powder

jalapenos hanging on the vine
You can dry jalapenos using many methods: in a food dehydrator, kitchen oven, or using air drying and sun drying techniques. Once dried, you can grind jalapenos in a coffee grinder to make jalapeno powder. This will preserve your jalapenos and allow them to last a year or more when dehydrated as long as they are stored in airtight containers.

Whether you are familiar with or just getting started with drying foods, here’s a handy guide on how to dry jalapenos and retain much of their flavor, nutritional value, heat, and color.

What is the Difference Between Fresh and Dried Jalapeno Peppers?

Dried jalapenos usually have less heat and a less robust flavor than fresh jalapenos, though the difference is minimal. Fresh green jalapeno peppers have an earthy, grassy flavor, while fresh red jalapenos have an earthy, slightly fruity flavor. These flavors may not be quite as pronounced in dried jalapenos.

Dried jalapenos are also less crunchy than their fresh counterparts when reconstituted because of the water loss sustained during drying.

How to Dry Jalapenos

You can use different methods to dry jalapeno peppers, depending on your preference. You can choose between air-drying, sun-drying, oven-drying, and drying in a food dehydrator.

Useful Tools to Dry Jalapenos

Depending on your preferred method, you’ll need the following tools to dehydrate jalapeno peppers:

  • Baking sheet
  • Chef’s knife
  • Clean kitchen cloth/paper towels
  • Cutting board
  • Drying racks
  • Glass jars/mason jars/sealable plastic bags
  • Gloves
  • Labels and pen/marker
  • Parchment paper
  • String and needle

Drying Jalapenos in a Food Dehydrator

Drying peppers in a food dehydrator is the most efficient method. Also, it results in lesser changes in spiciness and flavor.

To dry your red or green jalapenos peppers in a dehydrator, follow the steps below:

  1. Sort and select the best peppers. Pick the ones without blemishes, rot, mold, or holes.
  2. Wash them in cool water and dry them thoroughly.
  3. Wear gloves and add eye protection when cutting the peppers.
  4. Remove the stems and slice the peppers using the same procedure as above. Go for thin slices because they are easier and faster to dry. If drying them whole, make several holes or slits on the skin for aeration.
  5. Place the slices evenly on dehydrator trays. There should be no touching or overlaps.
  6. Set the dehydrating temperature to 125°F and dry the peppers for 6-10 hours until they get leathery. Whole peppers dry in 24-48 hours until seeds rattle inside when you shake the peppers. Dry the peppers longer until they are brittle if you intend to make jalapeno powder.
  7. Allow the dry peppers to cool down completely.
  8. Condition your peppers to check for quality and moisture. Place them in safe containers and monitor them for a week. Rehydrate and use immediately if you see condensation forming in the containers. Alternatively, you can re-dehydrate them. If they are moldy, discard them immediately.
  9. Store the dried jalapenos in labeled mason or glass jars with a food-safe desiccant for moisture absorption, if any. You can also put them in freezer bags.

Oven-drying Jalapenos

A convection oven is better than a standard one when drying peppers—it has the much-needed air circulation for speeding up the moisture removal process.

To dry your jalapenos in the oven, follow the steps below:

  1. Select the best peppers. Pick the ones without blemishes, rot, mold, or holes.
  2. Wash the peppers in cool water to remove dirt and spray. Use paper towels or kitchen cloth to dry them thoroughly to reduce the work your oven has to do.
  3. Next, wear gloves to protect your hands from capsaicin burns and goggles for eye protection against spicy vapors while cutting and handling the peppers.
  4. Cut off the stems at a 45-degree angle.
  5. Slice the peppers into even shapes to facilitate even drying. These could be rings or coins, strips, dices, or halves.
  6. Cut the chiles into 1/4-inch rings. To make strips, cut the peppers in half and then 1/4-inch strips. For dices, cut your peppers into strips first and then dice them. The halves require lengthwise cutting.
  7. If you prefer to dry the peppers whole, make several slits or holes through the skin with the knife to promote aeration.
  8. Remove the seeds and placenta, if you prefer, to reduce the spiciness levels.
  9. Place the jalapeno slices on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or an oven-friendly drying rack. Space them evenly, without any touching pieces.
  10. Preheat your oven to its lowest temperature for 10-15 minutes. The lowest oven temperature is usually 125°F or 150°F.
  11. Bake the slices in the middle rack of your oven at 125°F for 6-12 hours. Monitor the progress every four hours to ensure your peppers do not burn. If they do, the temperature is too high. Dry whole peppers for 24-48 hours until seeds rattle inside them. You may leave the oven door slightly open to promote air circulation and moisture removal.
  12. The peppers should reach a leathery state when dry. If you want to grind them into powder, keep drying them until they become brittle.

Sun-drying Jalapenos

To sun-dry whole jalapeno peppers, string them up into a ristra and hang them to dry under direct sunlight.

Run the string through the needle and pierce the first pepper at the base of the stalk with the needle to run the string through it. Make a knot on the end of the string away from the needle to prevent the pepper from falling out.

Repeat the stringing procedure for all the other peppers, leaving a few inches between them for proper aeration. Do not put more peppers than the string can handle by weight.

Hang the ristra in a location with direct sunlight.

It will take about four weeks for the peppers to dry thoroughly. If they were green to begin with, they would turn red as they dry, creating an ornamental ‘necklace’ that adds beauty to your home.

Air-drying Jalapenos

The working concept for air-drying whole jalapenos is similar to sun-drying. The difference is that you’ll dry the peppers indoors, away from direct sunlight.

The peppers can be green or red when you start. The green ones will ripen to red with time since this method may take about four weeks or more.

Air-drying peppers will work best in arid climates at humidity levels of 50-60% or below. Beyond these levels, the peppers may start molding and rotting.

You can air-dry your jalapenos in two ways. You can hang them as a ristra. Alternatively, you can place them on drying racks to enhance airflow.

Can You Dry Jalapenos on the Plant?

You can dry just about any peppers on the plant, including jalapenos, by leaving them longer on the vine. The peppers will attain their full ripening color and finally dry off.

The vine-drying method has its flaws. Cool nights may slow down the drying process if your jalapeno plants are outdoors. Your peppers may also fall off long before they dry out completely.

To prevent losses, pick the peppers early to dry them in an oven or dehydrator.

How to Make Jalapeno Powder

You can make jalapeno powder from dried jalapeno peppers. Ensure the peppers are completely dried and brittle before grinding them into powder in a coffee grinder, food processor, spice grinder, or strong blender.

A spice grinder is better if your dried jalapenos still have the seeds and you intend to incorporate them.

Store the powder in glass and mason jars with a food-grade desiccant to absorb moisture.

Jalapeno powder is ideal for adding heat and flavor to soups, stews, chili powder, marinades, and hot sauces. You can also use it to make jalapeno salt and jalapeno jelly.

Jalapenos on a table with a pile of jalapenos spice.
Jalapeno powder with seeds made from jalapenos

Do You Need to Peel a Jalapeno Before Drying It?

No. You don’t have to peel a jalapeno before drying it. While the walls of jalapenos are thick and juicy, the skin itself is thin and dries fast.

How Spicy is a Dried Jalapeno Pepper?

As the central reference point against which all peppers are measured, jalapeno peppers score 2,500-8,000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville Scale and are not overly spicy peppers.

As mentioned, fresh peppers may be spicier than dried peppers. Depending on the methods used, some heat may be lost during drying and storage.

The list below gives insight into how spicy jalapenos and other sweet or hot peppers can be:

  • Bell peppers: 0 SHUs (Scoville Heat Units)
  • Jalapenos and Chipotle peppers (smoked dried jalapenos): 2,500-8,000 SHUs
  • Cayenne peppers: 30,000-50,000 SHUs
  • Habaneros: 100,000-350,000 SHUs

What Does a Dried Jalapeno Pepper Taste Like?

Green dried jalapenos peppers have the same earthy, grassy taste as fresh green jalapenos, although some pungency may be lost during drying and storage due to the absence of water.

Dehydrated red jalapenos will have an earthy but slightly fruity flavor.

How Do You Dry Jalapenos Naturally?

You can dry jalapenos naturally by hanging them in a ristra in a location with direct sunlight. During the night, you’ll need to bring the ristra indoors in a cool, dry place. Repeat the day and night routine until the peppers are fully dehydrated.

What is the Shelf-Life of Dried Jalapeno Peppers?

Dried jalapeno peppers can last up to a year or longer if you store them properly in a cool, dark place in watertight and airtight containers such as mason jars and glass jars with a desiccant packet.

The peppers also stay up to a year when frozen in freezer bags or other safe containers. The disadvantage of this method is that the peppers may rehydrate if they thaw.

You can also store your dry jalapenos in plastic bags or containers with tight lids for short-term storage at room temperature. You should use them within six months if you opt for this method.

How Long Does it Take to Dry Jalapeno Peppers?

It takes at least six hours and as many as four weeks (or more) to dry jalapenos. The duration depends on the method used.

Air-drying and sun-drying take the longest time at four weeks or more. Drying peppers slices in an oven takes 6-12 hours. A dehydrator offers the fastest drying time of 6-10 hours for slices and 24-48 hours for whole peppers.

Remember, you also have to prepare the peppers for drying. The prep time is about 15-30 minutes.

What are the Nutritional Benefits of Dried Jalapeno Peppers?

Like other peppers, dried jalapenos are rich in Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid). However, dried jalapenos may have less as some may be lost during drying and storage.

The capsaicin in peppers, including dried jalapenos, may help with pain reduction, weight loss, and high blood pressure.

Is it Easy to Rehydrate Dried Jalapeno Peppers?

It’s easy to rehydrate dried jalapeno peppers by soaking them for 10-15 minutes in hot water in a heat-safe container.

The peppers are light and may float. If they do, pin them down inside the water using a plate or bowl. Alternatively, you can cover the container with a cloth.

Rehydrating dried jalapenos helps you make them ready to use again. You may eat them as a snack when still dried, but reconstituting them in water restores them to a near-fresh state.

Alex Maina

Preserving food has become a meeting point for Alex's passions—gardening, cooking, and writing. Having grown up on a farm with cows, goats, chickens, and fresh fruits and vegetables, Alex knows the importance of preserving food for leaner times. He spends his time drying and canning foods, trying new recipes, and writing for Dehydrated Cookbook.

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