This spring I decided to grow Paprika peppers. I love Paprika powder so I naturally wanted to try and make it myself. Not a bad little project to experiment with. Spices are always some what expensive and to produce something that I know we will use is just an added bonus.
Well I started to pull the peppers as they got red for drying last month. I hung them from the window sill for about 4-6 weeks. They had dried pretty well, though still probably could have dried a little more, when we decided to use them for Nicole's tamale recipe. I can tell you, the flesh of the pepper is thick. Not as thick as say a bell pepper, but thicker than a cayenne. So the drying time takes a little longer. A couple that I had opened had developed some mold inside toward the stem. This was due to the excess moisture and lack of rotation. The seed pods toward the top of the stem blocked out any light from the other sun exposed side, setting up the perfect conditions for mold growth. Lesson learned, don't attempt to dry a pepper this thick in a window!
To dry them properly, do the following and learn from my initial mistake:
Pick the Paprika peppers when they are red. Rinse them off and pat dry. (If buying at the store, buy organic so there is no pesticide residue to worry about.) Cut the peppers up and lay them skin side up on a tray lined with parchment paper. Place peppers in a 170 degree oven for about 8-10 hours (about 2 hours longer than a cayenne because they are so thick) until they are dry and wrinkled. (We don't do that with cayenne's are thin walled and they come out fine without cutting.) **If you are drying peppers for later use, you can dry them whole in the oven, just turn them half way through the process. Check to make sure they have dried completely before pulling them out to avoid any mold issues.
Next, let them rest on the counter top to cool and harden, which could take two or three hours. Use a coffee grinder or a food processor to grind up the peppers to a powder. (Remember while handling hot peppers, wear gloves to prevent the peppers from getting on your hands and never rub your eyes!) The less you grind the more of a flake you will get and the more you grind, it becomes a powder. Once you have grinded, let the Paprika powder rest in the grinder for 10-15 minutes before you open it up to prevent breathing the pepper dust. Then, place in a jar or bag for later use. It should last you 4-6 months if you keep the container sealed (If you have excess, freezing is an option to preserve the quality). Remember that flakes and powder will oxidize after a while and it will change the flavor and nutritional content. So when they start, discard them. Enjoy the happiness of making a much better tasting spice at home!
"I get up every morning, winter and summer at four. First I go into the woods and gather specimens, and listen to what God had to say to me. After I have had my morning talk with God, I go to my laboratory and begin to carry out His wishes for the day, and if I fail it's my failure, and if I succeed then God's will has been done."
~George Washington Carver