Dehydrating green, red, or yellow bell peppers is not hard to do. The dried pepper yields very intense flavor, and is a nice addition to your kitchen bag of tricks. Dehydrated peppers of any color also store well, so they add to your long-term food supplies, as well.
The dried “meat” of the bell pepper can be ground up and used as a seasoning for cooking, or added at the table on salads, pasta or other dishes. Once rehydrated, not only the bell pepper can be used but the flavorful water used to rehydrate can be used in the preparation of other foods such as the basis of soup or sauce.
Dehydrating Roasted Bell Peppers
To roast your bell peppers, turn your oven to broil, place whole well-washed bell peppers on a cookie sheet, and slide the sheet on the most upper oven rack, as close to the broiling heat as possible.
Turn the peppers as needed, to allow the skin to char as evenly as possible.
When all surfaces of the bell pepper are dark and charred, remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Allow your peppers to cool completely, and then remove the skin and the seeds.
Place the bell pepper flesh, minus the skin and seeds, into either an electric dehydrator or your own oven set at 135 degrees Fahrenheit. (Follow the manufacturer’s directions when using an automatic dehydrator.) For oven drying, be sure to place a thermometer in the center of the cookie sheet so that you can check every 30 minutes to assure the temperature remains constantly at 135 degrees. Also, keep the door cracked about 2 inches to allow the moisture-laden air to escape.
When the bell pepper pieces are completely dry, they will be as thin as a sheet of paper, and leathery yet almost brittle. Carefully inspect the peppers for dryness during dehydration. I like to turn them over to assure thorough drying. The process can take as much as 5 to 12 hours so plan your start and end times to be convenient to your daily schedule.
Dehydrating Blanched Sweet Bell Peppers
If you do not want to roast the peppers under a broiler, you can steam them for 3 to 5 minutes to stop the enzyme action. This style of blanching will give a better-tasting result, and the dried bell peppers will last much longer.
After you steam the peppers, allow them to dry thoroughly, and repeat the above process to oven-dry them.
Dehydrated Food Storage: After you Dry the Peppers
Regardless of the method you use, when your peppers are completely dry, place them in a bowl, cover them with a towel, and place the bowl in an out of the way place in your kitchen that is not in direct sunlight. Let the peppers sit for around 12 days, shaking the contents once daily to rearrange, and carefully inspect the inside of the bowl for water droplets. If there’s water, that means you need to dehydrate them more. If there’s no water, you’ve got perfectly dehydrated vegetables.
Once you’re satisfied that there is no more moisture in the bell peppers, vacuum seal them in small batches, and store them in a cool, dark place. My preference is the freezer but any dark, cool place works fine. Never store any dried food (in any container) in a damp area or directly on a concrete floor.
Bell peppers grow in abundance in the home garden. Dehydration is a perfect way to store your harvest for later use.