A while back I told you I purchased entirely too many jalapeno peppers. I was a little overwhelmed by them at first, not sure what to do with the excess, but I quickly found functional uses. I made pickled jalapeno slices and jalapeno jelly, but I still had a little over two pounds of peppers that hung out in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Just as a few began to look a little wrinkly, I decided I had to finish what I started. I wasn't sure exactly which direction to take, but I knew I wanted something I could use in everyday recipes like rice, salsa, and soup without a lot of extra effort. I decided to dehydrate them, and that turned out to be a perfect way to preserve them. They are dried enough to make them shelf stable for a while, but they also rehydrate nicely in soups and other liquids.
I started with around two pounds of peppers that I washed and dried. I removed the stem end from each pepper and used a small paring knife to carefully remove most of the seeds from inside. I then sliced the peppers somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. You could also make your life a little easier and slice them without removing the seeds and either dry them with the seeds intact or shake them a bit to loosen some before drying. Just remember, the more seeds you leave in, the hotter they will be.
Once they were sliced, I placed them in a single layer on several unlined baking sheets and placed them in the oven to dry. They took somewhere between 10 and 12 hours to dry completely. You want the end result to be very dry, almost crisp and brittle in order for the pepper slices to be shelf stable. If they are still leathery, they will not keep on the shelf and will need to be frozen for long-term storage.
After they were completely dehydrated and cooled, I placed them in a tight sealing jar (my two pounds made about 1 pint of dried peppers) and am storing them in my cabinet. They make great additions to salsas and cornbread (rehydrate them and chop them a little first), soups (especially with corn and potato), and other dishes where you would be cooking the peppers anyway.
So, if you find yourself with a surplus of jalapenos (or other types of pepper) or just want to have some on hand for the cooler months, try dehydrating them. It's as simple as turning on the oven!