I grew up in a house on a mountain. Our neighbors had kids that were the same age as my next-oldest brother and I and one of the things I remember about their house was that their mom always had chili peppers drying in her kitchen. As a child, I just thought she had chosen chili-themed kitchen decor, but now I wonder if she just really loved peppers and hung her surplus to dry in the kitchen. I guess I'll never know! Every time I sit down to prepare my peppers for drying now, I think of her. Let's talk about how to dry your own Cayenne peppers and then process them for your apothecary.
What You'll Need:
- Cayenne peppers
- cotton thread
- a sewing needle
- a mortar and pestle or a stainless steel screen
- Clean your peppers. Rinse them with clean water and then towel dry them.
- Sort your peppers. Set aside any that have bruises or blemishes. You want to choose the ones that are firm and vibrant. Any peppers that have spots or are feeling a bit flimsy don't make the cut.
- Thread your needle through the green stem of each pepper, pretty close to the base. Leave a little bit of space on the string in between each pepper.
- Tie the two ends of your string together to form a large loop and then hang the strand somewhere dry and away from direct sunlight for 4-6 weeks, or until the peppers are completely dry.
- Once dried, you can remove the peppers from the string and crush them in your mortar and pestle or rub them through a stainless steel screen. You can either process them to the texture of red pepper flakes (like the kind used in cooking and in pizza shops) or you can grind them down into a powder. If you're going to be using the Cayenne for medicinal or topical purposes (not just cooking), you will want to remove all of the seeds before processing the peppers with the mortar and pestle.
7 Ways to Use Cayenne
- In an herb-infused warming salve meant to help stimulate circulation.
- In your seasonal batch of fire cider.
- As a catalyst in herbal tinctures, liniments, etc. (You can also use Ginger.)
- In remedies for immune support during cold and flu season.
- In heart tonifying formulas.
- In topical preparations for joint pain.
- In digestive stimulant formulas.
Note: Very little Cayenne is needed in any recipe - use it very sparingly for best results.
How do you like to use Cayenne?