Saturday, March 17, 2007

Get yer pepper seeds now... that next March you can be doing what I'm doing, grinding my own chili pepper, ancho powder, and ground paprika.

1. Plant a variety of pepper seeds indoors, grow the plants out in your garden when the soil warms up.
2. Pick pecks of peppers when they're ripe.
3. Dry what peppers you don't eat. I dry ancho, paprika, and cayenne.
4. Store them in a dry place and grind them as you need them.

A few hints:
Cayennes are small and thin enough to string and dry, but if the air is at all humid (and sometimes Michigan is very humid in August and September), then you'll need to use a dehydrator or your oven. Anchos and paprikas have thicker flesh, so they should be cut open to dry. Again, you can do them on screens, but for best quality you can't beat the dehydrator.
Anchos can be smoked in a grill or smoker to add flavor.
I read somewhere that I trust, and it makes sense: grind the pepper seeds with the pepper - they add nutrition and there is an antioxidant element in the seed that helps the ground pepper retain it's color and vitamin content. It also eliminates the step of seeding the peppers. You don't even know they're there when the pepper is ground.
Quality Control.
I know how my peppers are grown, harvested, dried, and ground, and I've never opened up a container of home-ground peppers to find larvae or beetles. I sure can't say that of purchased paprika.

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