Cayenne peppers - what to do with them

ania_caJuly 17, 2009

I bought a 6 pack of cayenne plants earlier in the year from HD cause I use powdered cayenne in my cooking and love it. Well, now they are getting red and will be ready to pick. My question is, how can I utilize them? I'm guessing they can be dried and powdered or made into a cayenne hot sauce with vinegar. 1) how do I do that safely 2) what else can I do with them?

I did a search and really didn't find too much info.


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Here's a suggestion.Take about a dozen of em and mince em up. Mince up one hab and two cloves of garlic. Add a cup of viniger and bring to a boil. Let boil untill you have about 1/4 cup left. Put 48 oz bottle of ketscup in a boiler and pour the mixture in. Add some brown sugar. Cook REAL SLOW and stir for about 2-3 hrs. Makes a nice spicy/sweet ketscup.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 11:40AM
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shermthewerm(8 PNW)

I string them together to dry & hang them from my kitchen window. It's not a traditional ristra, but a simpler version. You need several ripe cayennes, some dental floss, a needle, and a button. Attach the button to the end of 2' or so dental floss, then one by one string the cayennes by inserting the dental floss through the stem.

They dried within a month, and then I have cayennes to either grind up, or add whole to flavor various dishes. They're also very pretty & made great Christmas presents!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 12:44PM
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This site has some recipes / general info on hot peppers, using, growing, cooking, hot sauce, etc....

Here is a link that might be useful: The Hot Pepper

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 12:51PM
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rdback(Z6 VA)

As you say, you can dry them, then grind them when needed. You can use them fresh in salsas, chili, stews, etc. You can also freeze them whole, for use at a later time. If you have a dehydrator, you can thaw the frozen ones and THEN dehydrate them for grinding.

Here's two ways to use them as a "hot sauce", but they're quite different.

The first way is really an infused vinegar, if you will, and is made easily as described in "this Harvest Forum thread".

The other way is the more traditional "Red" hot sauce, which is prepared and processed and best described by this "NCHFP approved recipe".

Hope this gives you a few more ideas.

Good Luck.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 2:25PM
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What Rick (rdback) said.

You said "safely" and NCHFP is the standard.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 7:00PM
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I often don't have enough to justify going through the whole process of dehaydrating & grinding them so I put them fresh into chili, soup, or on a turkey sandwich.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 7:56PM
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In about 5 minutes, after a cigarette, i'm going to the truck to get the case of mason jars. Then, to the kitchen to sanitize one of them...wash the 50 or so Cayenne peppers...pour some cider vinegar in the jar...add off vinegar...seal. =)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 12:35AM
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Steve, its that easy, just fill up with vinegar , add peppers seal? Do you have boil jar afterward? I only have 1 cayenne plant, I should have growm nore, but is has tons of peppers on it, and I still have dried ones from last year, so I dont want to dry more, but probably will. can I do the same with black hungarians?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 4:22PM
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medcave(8 Tx)

It's that easy only if you treat it as a fresh food, refrigerate it, and eat it within a week.

For longer storage it needs to be brought to a boil, at least 185 degrees, then packed into hot "Woozy" jars and sealed. You also need to assure the PH stays below 3.8 throughout it's lifetime.

And even then, that is an older method that has not been approved by the NCHFP. You would need to take the added step of boiling the peppers in approved jars (not Woozys) in a Boiling Water Bath canner to insure maximum botulism kills and sealing of the jars.

See this thread for more info:

Here is a link that might be useful: Let's Make Hot Sauce Discussion.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 5:08PM
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Cayennes make nice ristras which is an excellent traditional method of drying.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ristra

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 9:45AM
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Here's what I did (about a week ago) with some fresh from the garden Cayennes. A very simple technique us southerners like to use (and maybe others too). Heat up cider vinegar until it's about boiling. Clean your jar and lid well & keep them in hot water until ready to can. Wash all Cayennes, cutting off bad spots. Put Cayenne's in jar, pour boiling vinegar in until about 1/2 - 1 inch below jar top. Seal, sit it in a dark cool cabinet for a few days to make sure lid doesn't pop (if it does, put right into fridge & start using whenever). Take it out of the cabinet anytime you want to start using them. Bam...pick a peck of pickled peppers. ;-)

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 12:54PM
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so yous are saying I cannot throw my peppers in a jar of olive oil with rosemary and seal to use n a few months with boiling them?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 3:06PM
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medcave(8 Tx)

organic_plant_lady wrote:

so yous are saying I cannot throw my peppers in a jar of olive oil with rosemary and seal to use n a few months with boiling them?

No you can't, even if you do boil them. Oil is the perfect environment for growing botulism in low acid foods like peppers and fresh herbs... a double whammy.

Please read up on safe food storage practices at the National Center for Home Food Preservation (link below). Then if you still have specific questions about a particular process or recipe, I suggest you ask it over in the GardenWeb Harvest forum. There are some real experts over there that won't steer you wrong.

Here is a link that might be useful: NCHFP

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 4:35PM
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Wow...medcave: Still pissed at me or was that not directed towards me? ;-) I do also suggest the Harvest forum, but the vinegar method I used will work just fine (and is safe, sanitary, etc.).

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 6:09PM
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medcave(8 Tx)

Not at all Steve. The plant_lady was wanting to can in oil, big difference from using vinegar.

Now that you mention it though, if you're not going to Pressure Can or Boiling Water Bath, you should at least sterilize your jars by bringing them to 185 degrees before packing, not just "keeping them hot."

Personally though, I agree with the latest NCHFP guidelines that all should either be PC or BWB, depending on the acid levels of the approved recipe.

With your method you have no idea if the PH is at safe levels of 3.8 or below, particularly if you pack the jars tight and use relatively little vinegar.

Your peppers also needs to remain below 3.8 PH throughout it's lifetime to remain safe. I'm reminded of the ol' boy that just shakes out a bit of vinegar to flavor his BBQ, leaving the peppers behind. I learned many many years ago that you're supposed to refill the bottle with vinegar, otherwise the peppers will start to go bad. Granted, you may not do that with your peppers, but some do and when they do the PH level rises to dangerous levels as the amount of vinegar to pepper ratio declines.

Anyway, to get back to the main point - If y'all would just take the extra step of running your peppers through a BWB using an approved recipe that insures you have the correct ratio of peppers/onions/*dried* spices/whatever to vinegar, it will not only sterilize the jars, vacuum seal the lids, but ensure the food will be absolutely safe a year from now. Just bringing peppers and an unknown amount of vinegar to a boil and packing into hot jars is very marginal.

Why take a chance? Surely your friends and family are worth the best you can provide.

PS I'm not picking on you Steve. I've seen several threads like this brought up recently and felt something needed to be said. ;)

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 7:19PM
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All very true...When my father-in-law (a lot like that boy you mention) told me how to do this, he made sure to mention to fill the vinegar back up if you pour some out for use. I did heat the jars up a good bit after washing them thoroughly.

I was just checking to make sure you weren't messin' with me. ;-)

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 9:07PM
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wiringman(ZONE 4)

i have 120 cayenne pepper plants in my garden. i am tired of running out of them before i get more from the garden. i string them up and hang them around the house until after Christmas. they add a real nice red to the house. i live in a high desert area so it is very dry here. i think i would use a food dryer if i lived in a wetter clime. after they are dry i have powdered them in my Vita-mix. i do the same with my dried onions to make onion powder. i do not eat green peppers of any kind, they are not ripe and give me hart burn. i also have chili Serrano, chili jalapeno and chili Anaheim and this year i found some pepperoncini seed. they are the peppers served with Greek salad. those i will pickle. i want to make garlic dill pepperonici.

note: the Mexicans and Indians both dry there peppers this way.
note: jalapeno peppers do not dry well in the open air. there walls are to thick and they rot before they dry.

well i am now just rambling on so good luck with your cayenne peppers.

Wiring Man

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 9:31PM
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That's a whole lot of cayennes!!!!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 10:12AM
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Thanks for all the advice. I will probably dry most if them. I picked some nice red ones the last couple of days and used one in a stir fry and a couple more on fresh caught barracuda baked with orange juice, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and cilantro. I just sliced them on top before I baked and they gave it a good kick.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 10:50AM
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