Cayenne Pepper - Featured Image

Cayenne Pepper – Unlocking the Spicy Secret

In Food, Spice by Željko JaguštLeave a Comment

Cayenne pepper, with its fiery heat and vibrant red hue, is a beloved spice in cuisines around the world. Its intense flavor and versatility make it a staple in everything from hot sauces to curries, adding a spicy kick that ignites the taste buds. But what if we told you that you can bring this piquant delight right into your kitchen, cultivating, harvesting, and crafting your very own homemade cayenne pepper?

Cayenne Peppers Cultivation

Cayenne Pepper cultivation is a topic of its own, and a whole article could be written on it, so I will mention only the basics here. You can grow a plant on your own if you have seeds, you can buy plant seedlings in a specialized store, or if you're lazy, you can buy a final product - the fresh Cayenne Peppers.

If you like the idea of getting the seeds and growing the plant in your garden, then I can recommend a great article on The Spruce website which covers the whole process:

As I am also a bit lazy, I usually buy seedlings, which I then plant in my garden and let them grow until fresh, ripe fruits are ready to be harvested. Usually, seeds should be planted in early spring (as soon as the frost threat has passed), and you can expect it to fully grow at the end of July/start of August.

Here in Croatia, there is a fantastic store specializing in everything hot and spicey called Volim Ljuto. Their website offers a wide variety of pepper seeds, seedlings, and fresh peppers. You will also find various hot sauces, spicy snacks, and other hot and spicy products. Deliveries are possible to Croatia, the EU, Great Britain, and the United States. Visit them, and I guarantee you will not regret it.

Drying Cayenne Peppers

You can start drying your peppers as soon as you harvest them (or buy fresh ones). Once you harvest your fruits, you can leave them somewhere dry and humid-free. Depending on the peppers' freshness, you can expect them to dry in about two to three weeks.

I usually take a needle and a piece of thread and create a "pepper garland" (see image below). I then hang that garland in the kitchen, or, if it's still sunny and dry, I hang it somewhere outside.

Fresh Pepper Garland

Cayenne Pepper or Flakes - Your Choice

Once the peppers are dry, you can start making the spice. You will know the peppers are dry because they will change color (becoming darker), the petiole will turn from green to yellow/brown, and the fruit will be hard to the touch.
Cayenne Pepper - Dry Peppers
Dry Cayenne Peppers
You can start by removing the petiole and slicing the peppers in half. If you intend to do pepper powder, I recommend you remove the seeds. If you want flakes, you can leave the seeds in.
Cayenne Pepper - Remove Seeds
Preparing/Slicing Peppers

You will need a food processor only for flakes, but a pepper mill/grinder or, even better, an electric coffee grinder will be required for pepper powder.

You can fill the food processor with pepper halves with both the seeds and let them grind until you get the flakes. On the other hand, I recommend you remove seeds if you intend to do pepper powder. Then, grind pepper halves in the food processor until you get flakes. Once the flakes are done, put them in a pepper/coffee grinder and grind them until you get a fine powder.

Cayenne Pepper - Fresh Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne Pepper Powder
I recommend leaving powder "on air" overnight and grinding it again the next day. Once that is done, you can store the powder in a glass container and place it in a dark and dry place. And that is it. Enjoy your homemade, fresh, hot, and spicy Cayenne Pepper.

Share if you like. Thank you in advance!

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