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How to Dry Carolina Reaper Peppers

Carolina Reapers are incredibly hot peppers, so you only need one or two to spice up dishes and sauces. So, when you have a lot of them, it might be difficult to think of ways to use them all up. Drying or dehydrating peppers can be a good way to store and preserve them until you are ready to use them. This way your peppers can last longer, and you don’t have to throw out any or worry about them going bad.

There are several ways to dehydrate your Carolina Reaper peppers: using a food dehydrator, toasting them in an oven, hanging or air drying, and sun drying.

In this post, we will go over the different methods of dehydrating peppers, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each technique.

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Dehydrated Carolina Reaper peppers on a white plate
It’s interesting to see the variety of colors in Carolina Reapers. Colors range from green to devil red depending on their level of ripeness. Photo by Spicy Trio

Dehydrating Carolina Reaper Peppers Using a Dehydrator

A food dehydrator is an excellent way to dry out Carolina Reaper peppers. There are several types of food dehydrators that you can use for your peppers, such as the OSTBA Food Dehydrator Machine or the Elite Gourmet Food Dehydrator.

Step-by-Step Guide to Drying Carolina Reaper Peppers in a Dehydrator

Choose the Right Pepper

Make sure to pick the freshest looking peppers. Don’t choose peppers that have any signs of rot, soft skin, or other damage.

Wash and Dry Your Peppers

Once you have chosen the peppers you want to dehydrate, give them a thorough washing and make sure to dry them off completely.

Wash peppers under cool running water. Since Carolina Reaper peppers are wrinkly, be sure to pay extra attention to the crevices because these are where bacteria often hide.

Prepare the Peppers

Once the peppers are clean and dry, you will need to remove the stems. You can keep them whole or consider slicing them in half which will help make the dehydration process a whole lot faster.

Start Dehydrating

Put the pepper pieces on your dehydrator’s tray. Be sure to space them out so that the heat will be distributed evenly.

Turn on your dehydrator and set it to 135-140 degrees Fahrenheit (57-60 degrees Celsius). Some dehydrators have specific settings, so use the recommended setting if it has one.

How Long Does It Take to Dry Carolina Reaper Peppers in a Dehydrator?

Drying peppers in a food dehydrator takes anywhere from five to ten hours, depending on how thick the peppers are and how high your dehydrator settings can go. Smaller peppers can dry out faster than larger pieces.

You will know that your Carolina Reaper peppers are dehydrated when they become brittle and look dry.

Pro tip: While it takes around five to ten hours to dry your peppers in a dehydrator, you can probably leave them in there overnight. This way, you can be sure that the peppers have thoroughly dried out and are ready to be stored.

Dehydrating Carolina Reaper Peppers in an Oven

If you don’t own a dehydrator, you can also dehydrate peppers in your oven at a very low temperature. The key to drying peppers in an oven is using a low temperature because that will prevent the peppers from cooking.

Step-by-Step Guide to Drying Carolina Reaper Peppers in an Oven

Pre-Heat Your Oven
Pre-heat your oven to 150 degrees Fahrenheit (66 degrees Celsius).

Choose and Prepare Your Peppers

Newly harvested, fresh peppers are the best types of peppers to dry in the oven. As with the dehydrator, make sure to check your peppers for any damage, and only use peppers that don’t have any spots or rot on them.

Wash your peppers with cool running water and make sure to thoroughly dry them with a paper towel. You can leave your Carolina Reaper pepper whole or cut them into equal sized slices so that they dehydrate quickly and evenly.

Prepare the Baking Tray

Cover your baking tray or sheet with either foil or parchment paper. Space out your peppers on the baking tray, making sure to keep some space between peppers.

Bake Your Peppers

Once the oven is up to temperature, place the baking tray in. Leave the oven door slightly ajar, if possible, as that helps the moisture that is released from the peppers to escape.

Check on the Peppers Regularly

When dehydrating peppers in your oven, plan to check on the peppers often to make sure that they’re not cooking or burning. Most peppers take on a deeper shade when they dry but keep an eye out to ensure they don’t char.

Some peppers may dry quicker than others, so make sure to remove those peppers from the oven as that happens, so that they don’t burn. A pepper that is dehydrated will turn dry and be brittle.

How Long Does It Take to Dehydrate Peppers in an Oven?

Depending on what kind of oven you have and the type and the size of the peppers, oven drying can take anywhere from 12 hours to as long as four days.

Dehydrating Carolina Reaper Peppers by Hanging Them

If you want a less energy-intensive way to dehydrate your Carolina Reaper peppers, you can try air drying them. This works best if you live in a dry and warm area, or if you have a place where you can keep your peppers at a temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius) during the day.

Step-by-Step Guide to Air Drying Carolina Reaper Peppers

Choose and Prepare Your Peppers

Once you have chosen your peppers you wish to dehydrate, wash, and dry them completely using a paper towel.

Thread Your Peppers (Make a Ristra)

Using string, start to thread together your peppers. Air circulation is important to the drying process, so make sure to leave enough space between each pepper. Here is a helpful video that provides tips of how to thread together your peppers:

Hang Your Peppers

Once you’ve finished threading your Carolina Reaper peppers, you should find a place in your home that is very warm, dry, and has good circulation to hang up your peppers. Once hung, be sure to check on your peppers regularly to make sure they are not rotting or being attacked by pests.

How Long Does It Take to Dehydrate Pepper by Hanging Them?

Air drying Carolina Reaper peppers can take between three to four weeks. The length of time the peppers take to dry will depend on the humidity, the amount of sunlight, and the amount of air circulation available.

As with all dehydrating processes, your peppers are ready when they become brittle.

Jar full of red dried Carolina Reaper peppers
The smell that comes out of my jar of Carolina Reaper peppers is incredible. If you smell it too many times your nose will burn for around 30 minutes. Photo by Spicy Trio

Dehydrating Carolina Reaper Peppers Under the Sun

Sun drying your Carolina Reaper peppers is another energy- and cost-effective way to dehydrate your peppers.

Step-by-Step Guide to Drying Carolina Reaper Peppers Using the Sun

Check the Weather Forecast

Successful dehydration using this method is highly dependent on the amount of sunlight available. For best results, you will need uninterrupted days of full, hot sun and little to no humidity. If you’re doing this outdoors, find a nice sunny spot on your patio or in your yard. You can also use a sunny, well-lit room if you’re doing this indoors. Doing this indoors will definitely be easier to keep out any pests.

Choose and Prepare Your Peppers

If it’s one thing you take away from this post, it should be: don’t use soft or rotting peppers! Once you’ve picked out your perfect peppers, rinse them. Again, you can keep these peppers whole, or slice them to quicken the drying process.

Use a Stone or Stainless-steel Tray

Place your peppers on a flat stone or stainless-steel baking tray. It’s best to avoid using an aluminum tray as that may react to the pepper’s natural acids. If you’re drying them outdoors, place a mesh or cheese cloth over them to protect them from birds and insects.

How Long Does It Take to Dehydrate Peppers Using the Sun?

With ideal conditions of full sunlight and low humidity, your Carolina Reaper peppers can take three to five days to sun dry if they are small or sliced. Whole Carolina Reaper peppers may take two weeks to completely dehydrate under the sun.

Pros and Cons of Each Drying Method

DehydratorSaves time
Less prep work needed
More energy-intensive
OvenNo special equipment needed
easy to use
Takes time
More energy-intensive
Air/Hang dryNo special equipment needed
can dry in small spaces  
Takes time
Weather dependent
Extra prep work
More diligence needed
Sun dryNo special equipment neededTakes time
Weather dependent
More space required
More diligence needed

Are Dried Carolina Reaper Peppers Hotter than Fresh Ones?

The amount of capsaicin present in Carolina Reaper peppers does not change when you dry them. However, since the peppers lose moisture during the drying process, there is more heat concentrated in the same space, so some people say that dry versions of peppers do taste spicier than fresh versions.

So, while the capsaicin level does not change, some people do feel that dry versions of peppers taste slightly spicier than their fresh versions.