Ever since last time we made pepper powder, which was also the first time we made a pepper powder, I’ve been making all sorts of plans in my mind for the next homemade spices. Jalapeño powder was in the plan this time around. Over the weekend we went to Pete’s Fresh Market (one of my favorite grocery stores in Chicago) and stocked up on just about everything, including 3 pounds of jalapeños which cost just under $3.00! And after splurging for these little spicy peppers it only took an entire morning, afternoon, and evening to oven dry them out. Totally worth it!
Ingredients used : Jalapeño peppers (3 pounds).
I’m not gonna lie, slowly dry roasting peppers until they are totally dried out takes a bit of time. You’ll need be ready to set your oven to the lowest setting all day. Mine goes just under 200° – at such a low temperature the peppers are warm enough to dry out without burning. Even though this process takes all day it doesn’t require much of your attention. Nothing is happening fast which means you can attend to the peppers pretty much anytime you feel like it. Towards the end it will require more frequent check ups.
Before starting you may consider getting your hands on some rubber gloves. You will be handling the peppers a lot. Especially while cutting the fresh peppers, you’ll wish it wasn’t your bare hands doing the work. Of course I did NOT wear gloves throughout the process and my hands were very spice-tainted for a couple of days – it wasn’t too bad, I just had to be careful about touching my eyes and petting the cats etc. Spicy pepper oil doesn’t exactly wash off right away and it can be uncomfortable to deal with. Don’t be surprised if you don’t take extra precautions.
Jalapeño powder can be made with any amount of jalapeños. I used 3 pounds which was about 35 decent sized peppers. Because there were so many it required 2 baking sheets at the beginning (until they shriveled up and could fit on one tray towards the middle of the roast). We happen to have 2 ovens, but you could also use different racks within the same oven if you want to roast a lot at once. 3 pounds ground up to be a little over a cup of jalapeño powder.
The last time I made a pepper powder I roasted all of the peppers whole, jalapeños included. We used a variety of peppers in that batch from an overstock of our garden. The jalapeños were the thickest and therefore took the longest time to dry out. This time, since I was doing all jalapeños, I decided to cut them into smaller pieces in order to help them dry out faster. I quartered half of them on one baking sheet and cut the rest into halves on the other sheet – I did this partially because by the time I got half way through cutting the 35 peppers in quarters I wanted to handle them less and also I was curious how big of a difference it would make in the drying process. Obviously the quarters dried out quicker. Half way through the roast I ended up cutting the halves in half again. The smaller the pieces the quicker they will roast. Next time I might try slicing them in rings – I didn’t do that this time because I had so many to roast and not enough room in the oven.
Cut all of the peppers and place them open face up on the baking sheet. Do not use any oil, this is a dry roast. I used parchment paper underneath but you can place them directly on the sheet as well. If you are not wearing gloves be aware of what your hands are touching for the rest of the day. If you touch your face or eyes you will have a stinging reminder that will linger for some time and you will be be more aware going forward. However, if you have affectionate pets or kitties like I do, be sure to avoid petting them too much – they will probably not be able to communicate to you that their face feels like it’s on fire! No good.
Place the sheets in the oven and periodically check on them and flip. Since the oven was at such a low temperature I just used my hands to rotate the peppers. It was easiest for me, but you can also use small tongs or a utensil to help. The drying process will start off slow and speed up as time goes by. It’s important to flip them so all sides of the pepper have a chance to dry out.
About half way through the roast, the peppers lost enough moisture to shrink down and be able to fit on one pan. The baking sheet with the peppers only cut in half were not as dried out as the sheet with the quartered pieces (big surprise). Eventually I just cut them in quarter size as well to help speed up the process. As they were drying I noticed in some of the peppers at the points where seeds were attached to the meat there was more moisture than other parts, so I loosened or detached the seeds in order to allow the subtle heat to reach those areas.
Toward the end of the slow roast pick out the fully dried peppers to avoid burning. They will dry at different rates although the seeds seemed to dry out before anything else. It’s apparent they are finished when the pepper skin has shriveled up and darkened in color. It should not be able to bend without cracking. As I picked out the dry ones out I placed them in a holding bowl before grinding them all at once.
Once all of the peppers are removed from the oven it’s time to grind them up and make them into a fresh jalapeño spice. We used our Magic Bullet for grinding. You can use a spice grinder of course or a coffee grinder that is thoroughly cleaned out before and after grinding. But perhaps jalapeño accented coffee would be delicious. Grinding instructions are simple, place them in and grind them up until desired texture. We like a coarse pepper powder because it’s perfect to sprinkle on any dish. So far we have spiced up soup, popcorn, chickpeas, and bread.