The last few days I have been busy smoking peppers and dehydrating them. I have come to enjoy using the smoked peppers in a number of dishes, and use them ground, flaked or whole depending on the dish. I have found I generally have better results when leaving the peppers whole during the smoking process, since they tend to burn more easily when cut into pieces. It does mean they take longer to dehydrate though. I tend to smoked mixed batches of peppers and it helps me to get photos of the peppers before smoking, so I can tell them apart later. Since I had the photos I thought I would share them and the process as well!
I use my Weber charcoal grill to smoke the peppers, building a small fire on one side using briquets and/or lump charcoal. Once the fire is going I place a foil packet of apple or cherry wood chips on top of the fire. I poke holes in the top of the packet to let the smoke escape, then close the air vents on the grill so the fire will burn slowly and the smoke can mostly stay inside. I took the lid off for the below photo so you can see the setup on the grill. My goal is to keep the grill as cool as possible so the peppers smoke and don’t burn.
I smoke both hot and sweet peppers, and both green and ripe ones are good condidates. I particularly like the green NuMex peppers like Anaheim and Biggie Chil when smoked. This year I have had a bumper crop of ancho/poblano peppers, so I am trying some of them too. I also smoke paprika type peppers like Dulce Rojo and Feher Ozon to make smoked paprika.
After smoking, I put the peppers in the dehydrator and dry on the fruit setting (135°F). For the whole peppers it takes somewhere between 12-24 hours to dry the peppers to the leathery stage, depending on the thickness and moisture level of the peppers. I don’t dry them to the crispy point in the dehydrator, though it’s ok if you do. I find in our humid climate they don’t stay crisp for me after dehydrating though, at least not for very long. If I want to grind them up into powder, I generally crisp them up in the oven for about 15 minutes using the lowest oven setting. The ones in the below photo still need a few more hours of drying time.
I’ve had good results smoking and drying jalapeno peppers to make chipotles. I grind some of the chipotles into powder, and earlier this year I used the last of the 2015 chipotles to make Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce. I froze the chipotles and sauce in an ice cube tray, since I usually use it in small quantities. In the below photo it’s mostly Senorita jalapenos and Biggie Chilis, plus a couple of the Fooled You jalapenos which have no heat.
The chipotle peppers do take a long time to dry, and sort of resemble little cigar butts after they are dried. They smell a lot better though, especially if you like smoky-hot chipotles!
I hope you have enjoyed at a look at what has been keeping me busy lately. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!
I don’t think I’ve tried smoking green peppers. That’s a great idea. I have loads of green peppers that I “rescued” from the rats that I can experiment with. The peppers definitely are less likely to burn if you smoke them whole, but you can speed up the drying process if you cut them in half or slit them open and butterfly them.
I would love to try this! I love smoking foods but have never tried smoking my own peppers. It will be a project for next year bacause I don’t have dehydrator (yet) and I really don’t wanna hang smoked peppers in my bedroom, where I usually dry my peppers.
I would love to smoke some peppers, but time just wasn’t on my side this year. I do have a couple of questions for you, though. Firstly, do the “Fooled You” smoked jalapenos taste like a chipotle pepper without the heat? I love chipotle but often find the heat is overwhelming. It would be lovely to have a less spicy version by mixing the regular and non-spicy variety. And second – I’ve been drying my peppers to the crisp stage in the dehydrator and was wondering why you choose to finish them up in the oven.
I try and take them out at the pliable but not brittle stage, but some of them wind up crisp. After drying I keep them in ziploc bags or glass jars, and I find they don’t stay crisp for me. So I have to crisp them up before grinding regardless of how long I dehydrate them. The Excalibur guide says to dry the peppers to the ‘leathery’ stage, but I think it is really a matter of preference as to how dry you get them. I edited the post to try and make it more clear.
I have not tasted the Fooled You peppers after smoking and drying. They have been shy producers this year, and I doubt I will grow them again. The Senorita I grew this year have a bit less heat than the typical jalapeno, but are plenty hot (and flavorful) for me.