Dehydrated Bell Peppers

We love bell peppers in our house … so much so that we use them in at least a third of the meals we prepare at home. They’re one of our favorite savory vegetables. In season, they’re often inexpensive–especially since we almost always buy them at Cash & Carry (aka: Smart and Final), our local restaurant supply store, where they sell them for far below normal retail–but, in the off season, they can be very, very expensive … so much so that I’m often looking for ways to preserve them when they’re cheap … to use later, at times when fresh peppers are … shall we say, more dear :(

This week at one of my favorite local groceries–Roger’s Market Place, which reminds me of the old IGA in the small town where my grandmother lived–they had bell peppers priced 4 for $0.96 … which is CHEAP! I already had plenty fire-roasted and canned, so it was time to do some dehydration this time.

I bought 24 peppers, and decided that I wanted to dehydrate them in two different formats: chunks for stew and small diced for seasoning. I cut the first in roughly 3/4-1 by 3/4-1 inch chunks, and I cut the second in much smaller pieces, nothing bigger than about 1/2 inch long, and then cross-cut smaller from there, some paper thin. The thicker pieces I placed in a single layer on the open-weave trays, and the tiny pieces–so small they’d drop through the open-weave trays–went on the trays I lined with circles I cut out of those thin, disposable plastic (3 for $3.89) cutting boards … which you’ll see in a moment.

I lust after them on occasion … but I don’t have one of the fancy dehydrators, the ones with adjustable temperature, timer, etc. I do have a couple of dehydrators–including a huge homemade one that I’m currently trying to recondition to use–but my favorite is the simple one: seven round stacking plastic trays atop a heated base, one that’s either on or off … depending on whether or not you have it plugged in. It’s low-tech, but it works for me :)

As you can see, the smaller peppers dried quick and easy! A couple of larger pieces fell through from above as they dried, but they were really easy to pick back out as I started to package everything up.

The larger pepper pieces took a little longer to dry out completely. Once they were mostly dry, I basically went through and checked each piece. If they broke easily and cleanly when I tried to snap them in half, they were done. If they bent … they went back in the dehydrator.

Here’s what they looked like once they were dry :)

Aren’t they pretty? :)

For long-term storage, I packaged the peppers in wide-mouth 1/2 pint jars–my favorite dehydrator goodie size … they stack so nicely on a shelf–and then sealed them using a BWB. That way, they’ll stay fresh and moisture-free until I’m ready to use them. That roughly one-cup serving of the larger-cut peppers will reconstitute into approx. three cups of tasty pepper chunks: enough peppers for approx. two meals or a smallish canning project. On the smaller-cut peppers, the one-cup size will fill my seasoning jar approx. three times, where they’ll live poised above my stove … waiting to be added by pinches to this or that :)

About Lane

Just a canner ... on this food journey called life :)
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