Also called Tuscan pepper, the pepperoncini is a colorful, wrinkled pepper measuring 2 to 3 inches in length. The pepper, which has a subtle, sweet flavor, is only slightly more pungent than sweet bell peppers, becoming more pungent as the pepper matures from greenish-yellow to bright red. Dehydration is an effective preservation method for these mildly tangy little peppers, and unlike most vegetables, peppers require no blanching. Store the dried pepperoncini in an airtight container, then use them to flavor soups, stews and other hot dishes.
Items you will need
- Paring knife
- Baking sheets
- Stainless steel mesh or cheesecloth
- Electric fan
- Oven thermometer
- Potholder or block of wood
Preparing Pepperoncini for Drying
Inspect the pepperoncini closely. Discard peppers that display soft spots, blemishes or mold.
Rinse the pepperoncini under cool, running water.
Slit each pepper with the tip of a paring knife to allow air to penetrate. Small peppers such as pepperoncini can be dried whole.
Dry pepperoncini in the sun if temperatures are 85 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Bring the peppers indoors at night night if nights are humid or mornings are dewy.
Arrange a single layer of peppers on a baking sheet so the peppers don't touch or overlap. Cover the pepperoncini with stainless steel mesh or cheesecloth.
Dry the peppers until they are hard, brittle, and the seeds rattle inside. Turn the peppers every two to three days to promote even drying. Drying may take as long as two weeks, depending on the temperature.
Drying Pepperoncini in an Electric Dehydrator
Preheat the dehydrator to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange the pepperoncini in a single layer on the dehydrator rack.
Lower the temperature to 130 degrees after two to three hours to prevent the peppers from scorching.
Stir the peppers every one to two hours to promote evening dry. Remove them from the dehydrator when they are dry and brittle -- usually about eight to 12 hours.
Drying Pepperoncini in the Oven
Set your oven on its lowest temperature, as proper drying requires a temperature of about 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Too much heat cooks the peppers instead of drying them.
Arrange the peppers in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheets in the oven, allowing 2 1/2 to 3 inches between baking racks and at least 1 1/2 inches around each baking sheet. Place an electric fan in front of the oven door to circulate the air.
Place an oven thermometer toward the back of a baking sheet on the top rack where you can see it easily. Check the temperature every 30 minutes to maintain a temperature between 140 and 160 degrees. Use a potholder or block of wood to hold the door open if temperatures are too high.
Rotate the baking sheets every 30 minutes, shifting the sheets from front to back, and from top to bottom.
Watch the peppers carefully to prevent scorching. Remove them from the oven when they are dry and brittle. Oven-drying takes between four and 12 hours.
- You can also sun-dry pepperoncini by threading fishing line through the stems. Be sure the peppers have plenty of space and aren't crowded. Hang the peppers in a sunny, airy location.
- University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources: Peppers: Safe Methods to Store, Preserve and Enjoy
- Iowa State University Extension and Outreach: Drying Hot Peppers
- Some Like it Hot -- Really Hot!
- The Food Lover's Companion; Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Cooperative Extension Service: Drying Food
- Organic Authority: Two Easy Methods for Sublime Sun Dried Peppers
- University of Idaho Cooperative College of Agricultural and Life Sciences: Drying Fruits and Vegetables
- West Virginia University Extension Service: Home Drying of Fruits and Vegetables
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images