DIY Red Pepper Flakes for Zero Waste Spices
When it comes to food, I’m basically not happy unless I’m hiccuping, crying, and sweating at the same time… which makes me super fun to go on a date with.
The spicier the better!
I have an entire shelf devoted to my hot sauce collection - there is literally a hot sauce for any savory dish you put in front of me. Cholula? Homemade pepper vinegar? Pickled peppers? Texas Pete? Harissa? Sambal? Sriracha? Small batch craft hot sauce? I’ve got you covered.
One of the things I use the most, though, is my red pepper flakes. They’re the perfect way to add heat without altering the flavor of my food or adding excess acid.
Seriously, is anything better on a hot, cheesy slice of Hawaiian pizza?!
But if zero waste is your goal, spices are notoriously challenging. I get mine at the Spice and Tea Exchange, as previously mentioned, but even there they arrive to the store in giant plastic containers. Is it better for the planet for me to buy from there in my own containers than purchase tiny individual plastic canisters with cellophane safety wrappers? Yes. But still not ideal.
So yesterday morning I was staring at my somewhat neglected garden, both excited about and slightly dreading dealing with my incoming tabasco pepper crop.
Cute, colorful, packed with seeds, yet with surprising flavor, tabasco peppers are small but fierce. These prolific plants are almost impossible to kill, and the flesh of the peppers is surprisingly low in moisture... but one or two per recipe will usually do you just fine. What's a girl to do with a bumper crop of hot peppers?
“Hmm…” I thought. “I wonder what it would take to make my own red pepper flakes?!” Turns out? Not much!
A Down & Dirty DIY for Dried Pepper Flakes
Pick over and carefully wash hot peppers (cut with mild peppers to moderate heat, see Dos below).
Using a sharp chef’s knife, remove caps from peppers. Then carefully “filet” along the length of peppers, leaving sides connected at the tip, if possible.
Arrange peppers on dehydrator, seed sides facing upward.
Set dehydrator to high and dry peppers, checking occasionally until very dry (to prevent molding), approximately 3-4 hours.
Pour peppers into blender, food processor, or spice grinder. Pulse until a rough mixture is achieved.
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Dos for DIY for Dried Pepper Flakes
Consider how hot you want your mix to be. Want a more moderate spice level? Throw in some ripe, thin-skinned peppers to your mix. I’m very partial to shishito because they have similar flesh proportions to a tabasco and tons of flavor without the heat.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU TOUCH. Tabasco, jalapeño, Thai, piri piri peppers… These little guys do not play. Wear gloves or be very care to wash your hands thoroughly and multiple times after cutting. (I did not do this and it was a very loooooooong afternoon.)
Carefully wash out appliance used for grinding so as to not accidentally spice upcoming meals unnecessarily.
Don’ts DIY for Dried Pepper Flakes
Open blender or food processor until pepper dust has settled somewhat.
Forget to label your pepper mix to denote spice level.
Put spices in containers that are not COMPLETELY dry, or they will mold
This whole thing was so easy, it felt like cheating. It’s such an easy fix for anyone tired of driving across town to snag their favorite spice in bulk!
Also, how beautiful is this DIY red pepper flake mix? It’s like pepper confetti! I’m planning to make a couple less potent pepper flake mixes for Christmas gifts this year.
What a fun and easy way to use up a bumper crop of hot peppers with next to no effort!