How to Preserve Cayenne Peppers

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Cayenne peppers get hotter as they get redder.
Cayenne peppers get hotter as they get redder. (Image: chili peppers image by Olga Shelego from Fotolia.com)

Cayenne peppers from the store or garden add spice and nutrition to recipes and salads. Cayenne peppers can be used fresh within a few days of picking from the plant or they can be preserved for a longer shelf life. Preserving cayenne peppers is simple to do and can be achieved in a variety of ways dependent upon your preference and taste.

Things You'll Need

  • Kitchen towels
  • Coarse thread
  • Needle
  • 4 lbs. cayenne peppers
  • 3 lbs. sweet peppers
  • Rubber of plastic gloves
  • Knife
  • Baking tray
  • Bowl
  • Trash bag
  • 9 1-pint canning jars
  • Pot
  • 5 cups vinegar
  • 4 tsp. canning salt
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Boiling water canner

Dried Cayenne Peppers

Run tepid water over the cayenne peppers to remove dirt and debris. Move your fingertips over the peppers to remove stubborn dirt. Dry the cayenne peppers with a kitchen towel.

Thread a sewing needle with coarse or heavy-duty thread. Pierce a cayenne pepper about 1/4 inch below the stem portion of the pepper. Bring the needle and thread all the way through the first pepper, leaving six or eight inches of thread at the end.

String cayenne peppers on needle and thread for drying.
String cayenne peppers on needle and thread for drying. (Image: needle and thread image by Nikolay Okhitin from Fotolia.com)

String all the cayenne peppers on the thread, leaving two to three inches in between each pepper. Knot the end of the thread after stringing the last pepper.

Tie the peppers in a dry, well-ventilated location. Allow the peppers five or six weeks to dry. The peppers can be left to hang, then pinch one off each time it's needed.

Cayenne peppers drying.
Cayenne peppers drying. (Image: paprika image by ann triling from Fotolia.com)

Pickled Hot Peppers

Slip the hands into rubber or plastic gloves. The oils in hot peppers can burn the skin if transferred from peppers to hands to face.

Protect yourself from coming in contact with hot cayenne pepper oils.
Protect yourself from coming in contact with hot cayenne pepper oils. (Image: medical gloves image by sasha from Fotolia.com)

Run lukewarm water over the cayenne peppers and sweet peppers to remove any dirt. Dry the peppers with a clean kitchen towel then make two to four small slashes in the skin of each cayenne pepper. Cut the sweet peppers into four sections, removing the cores and seeds from each pepper.

Set the scored and cut peppers in a single layer on a baking tray. Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the cayenne and sweet peppers for six to eight minutes until blisters form on the pepper skin.

Immerse the baked peppers in a bowl of cool water. This causes the blistered skin to slip easily off the peppers. Remove the pepper skins with gloved hands and discard the skins in a sealed trash bag.

Press the heal of a gloved hand onto each cayenne pepper to flatten it. Put a mixture of cayenne peppers and sweet peppers in each of the nine one-pint canning jars until the jars are filled within one-half inch of the top.

Canning jars help preserve cayenne peppers.
Canning jars help preserve cayenne peppers. (Image: antique canning jars image by pixelcarpenter from Fotolia.com)

Pour 5 cups vinegar and 1 cup water into a pot. Bring the liquid to a boil then add 4 tsp. canning salt, 2 tbsp. sugar and 2 whole cloves of garlic. Simmer the ingredients in the liquid for 10 minutes.

Take the garlic cloves out of the liquid, then pour the liquid into each canning jar. Use just enough liquid so there is still one-half inch space at the top of the jar, between the peppers and the mouth of the jar.

Add the seals and lids to the jars and place them in a boiling water canner. Allow the cans of preserved cayenne peppers to process in the canner for 15 minutes. Remove carefully from the canner and allow the cans to cool completely before storing.

Tips & Warnings

  • Add other peppers or vegetables, such as cubed carrots or onion slices, to your pepper mix for canning.
  • Avoid touching the face or eyes if the skin of the cayenne peppers breaks while preserving. The oils from the peppers are hot and can cause your skin to sting and burn.
  • Use caution when using a canner. The heat from the water and steam can cause serious burns.

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