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Dangerous DIY: roasted chile powder

Chile peppers are one of my favorite summer veggies to grow because they are easy-going plants and they produce abundantly. While unripe green chiles are delicious, I like to harvest them when fully ripe for a sweeter, fuller, fruitier flavor.

Here we have habanero chiles on the left and Baltimore Fish peppers on the right. This is way more chile than can be eaten in one meal, so to preserve them, I like to make roasted chile powder.

To roast the chile peppers, first wash and dry your chiles, then inspect them, removing any blemishes with a pairing knife. Spread the chiles in a single layer on a baking sheet, turn on the oven to the lowest temperature that it goes, and set the baking sheet on the rack that's furthest away from the heating element (in my oven, that's the top rack). We're going for low and slow, so that the chiles dehydrate without becoming charcoal. If you have a food dehydrator, you may use that instead, but you won't develop the roasted flavors.

Here's what my chiles looked like after about 2 hours in the oven. I checked them about every 20 minutes, flipping and stirring them so that they would not stick to the pan. The time needed to roast and dry the chiles will vary depending on the size and the variety of chiles used. If you notice that any of the chiles are becoming too crispy, remove them from the pan and set them aside while the remaining chiles roast. My fish peppers were completely dry after 2 hours while the habaneros were still gummy to the touch, so I let the habaneros go a little longer in the oven.

A note about roasting chiles: there will be fumes. If anyone you share your home with is sensitive to the fiery burn of chiles, you might want to do this when they aren't around. If you are sensitive to chiles, then this is not the project for you.

Once the chiles are cool and dry to the touch, you may store them whole for future use or grind them into chile powder. And here is another note of caution: if using a spice grinder, don't open the grinder immediately after it stops. Allow the particles to settle for a few minutes and then open the grinder a full arms length away from your face or you will end up macing yourself. Been there, done that.

And of course, whenever handling chiles, it's a good idea to wear gloves. The oils from chile peppers are tenacious and I cannot tell you how many times I have burned my philtrum (the grooved bit below your nostrils and above your upper lip) hours after handling chiles, despite washing my hands with soap and water multiple times.

Here's the finished product: roasted chile powder. This one is made with Fish peppers only.

#summer #vegetables #recipe