Whether you aren’t sure what to do with an overly zealous pepper plant in the backyard or you’re trying to think of a creative gift, making homemade red pepper flakes are both fun and truly delicious.
Determine which type of pepper will be right for making your crushed red pepper flakes.
With a whole family of peppers you can pick, base your decision on how hot of a pepper you can handle. Pepper hotness is measured by Scoville units–the higher the Scoville unit, the hotter the pepper. For example, a sweet bell pepper has zero Scoville units whereas the mighty Habanero pepper ranges from 100,000 to 350,000. The hottest pepper on the scale is the Trinidad Scorpion Butch at 1,463,700.
Assess your overall needs. If you’re creating the crushed pepper for home use and you like them hot, go for the hottest pepper you can find. However, if you’re giving the flakes to friends, you may want to go with something a little tamer.
Consider how big of a batch you want to make.
In general, 71 Serrano peppers can make one cup of crushed red pepper flakes.
Heat the oven to 170ºF/75ºC or a low setting.
Although the easiest way is to dry the peppers in the oven, you could also sun dry them, especially if you live in an arid climate.
Using a knife, carefully cut off the pepper stems.
Then, slice the peppers by simply splitting them in half. Don’t remove the seeds.
Line non-greased cookie sheets with peppers.
Line the peppers side by side and avoid clumping them together; otherwise, they won’t dry properly.
Bake in the oven for approximately six hours.
To be sure they get enough time to dry, set a timer. Once six hours have passed by, turn off the oven and allow the dried peppers to remain in the oven overnight, so they will continue to dry and dehydrate.
Crush into flakes.
The next day, place the dried peppers in a food processor or crush them by hand. Only crush peppers by hand if you’re wearing gloves and you’re crushing the peppers while they’re inside a plastic bag. Otherwise, stick with the food processor.
Once the dried peppers have been thoroughly crushed, carefully pour them into an airtight container for storage.
Serve the crushed peppers in a food shaker such as a pepper shaker.
See “Picking the peppers” in Method 1 above, to determine which peppers to use.
String the chili peppers along fishing line.
Use a large needle to pierce the pepper. Pierce through the stem to ensure the fruit stays intact.
Set chilies in a cool, dark, dry as can be environment.
This will ensure a mold-free dehydration. Usually, it takes about four months for a fully dried out chili with no preserves, chemicals or treatments.
Once the chilies are thoroughly dried, remove them from the stem.
Simply twist and tug. Pat dry with a towel, to ensure the removal of dust or clinging particles.
Using a coffee grinder.
Snip the chilies with scissors over the mouth of the grinder. You can chop them too but that makes more mess. Less mess is good, as it’s less chance of someone getting it into their eyes.
In small batches, grind the chilies to the texture you desire.
They can be roughly ground into chili flakes or ground down further to a heavily seeded powder.
Store in an air-tight, dry and clean container.
Be careful when handling chilies. Avoid contact with anything but the soap after handling chilies. They can be very, very hot and will burn your eyes nose or mouth and even skin if concentrated chilies come into contact.