from sky to seed

Homemade Pepper Flakes

A combination of crushed cayenne, banana, habanero, and a few unknown peppers make for a beautiful confetti of spicy flakes.

Once put in charge of food acquisition, Jon gets overzealous.  Last week, he went to the grocery store and came home with two packages of breakfast ham, a pound of bacon, three pounds of sausage, and thirty-something eggs.  This, in addition to the bacon, eggs, ham and sausage we already had in our refrigerator.

So I wasn’t surprised when he brought home a gallon bucket full of peppers from his friend Jason’s garden.

“You don’t even like peppers!” I wailed.  “What are we going to do with all these?”

He shrugged.  “Throw them away?” After the food is got, his job is done.  Or so he thinks.

They sat in our kitchen for two or three days, attracting fruit flies and growing spots of mold.  It’s too humid here to hang them out to dry.  I did my best to eat the bell peppers, which are literally Jon’s least favorite vegetable.  But seriously?  Three days of bell peppers is quite enough, thanks.

Then I started googling around and voila!  Dry them and crush ’em into pepper flakes.

Now why hadn’t I thought of that to begin with?

Methods vary all across the interspace — you can hang dry them (ornamental and lovely and Mexican) or dehydrate them or fake roast them in your oven.  I opted for the oven roasting.  Here’s how to do it:

IMG_5715IMG_5716

Gather up your peppers.  Aren’t they beautiful?  If you want to decrease the heat of your final product, you can cut them in half and scoop out the peppers.  We didn’t do that.  I like it when food makes me sweat.

IMG_5719

Set oven heat as low as possible.  The lower, the better, or so I gather.  Sounds like a lot of people have great ovens that get as cool as 160, but mine only hits 170.  Whatevs.

IMG_5722Stack the peppers evenly apart on oven racks and set to roasting.  Leave the door cracked for steam to escape.

Then… this is hard.  Step away.  Seriously.  For, like, the first hour that the peppers were in the oven, I kept peeking at them, hoping they’d shrivel up under my careful watch.  They don’t.  They resist.  They stay bright and beautiful.

If you have a job, it’d be great to pop these things in the oven and go toil at work all day.  Or do it while you’re sleeping.

We went shooting clay pigeons.

I thought that being at the farm all evening would be enough to dry out the peppers.  It wasn’t.  I came home and they barely looked like they’d changed at all.  So we went to sleep.

Some time in the middle of the night, Jon went to get a glass of water from the kitchen and scratched his head over the open stove.  And shut it.  And managed to, whoops, “burn the shit” out of the peppers.  Even at 170.

Oh well.

The next morning, I sorted through the peppers and tossed what seemed too burned to salvage.  Several of the larger peppers were still a little soft, so I flipped ’em, rotated the pans, and let them keep baking on low.  Twenty-four hours after embarking on the pepper project, they were done.

IMG_5790Here’s what I got.

IMG_5816Now comes the fun part.  If you were authentic and chic and kind of a hipster, I bet you’d crush the peppers in your vintage mortar and pestle.  I am not.  I used a Ninja.  It’s fucking sweet.

IMG_5803Fill that beast up as much as possible.  I ended up working in several batches.  Pulse until they make fine, pretty flakes.  And be careful!  The first group that I finished, I dipped my nose into the jar to admire my work and promptly burned the shit out of my nasal cavities.  The beasts are hot.  The dust is deadly.

IMG_5813But the results are dandy.

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