Hot peppers vary tremendously in size, shape, color, and pungency or heat. They can be eaten fresh, used in sauces, pickled, frozen, or dried.
Drying peppers is a simple procedure. Harvest mature peppers (the fruit of most varieties turn from green to red at maturity), wash to remove any dirt, then allow the fruit to dry for a few minutes on the kitchen counter. Once the preparation steps have been completed, spread the peppers on a wire mesh screen or rack and dry for several weeks. An alternate method requires a large needle and heavy thread. Thread the needle, then push the needle through the upper portion of a pepper. Slide the pepper down the thread and repeat, stringing additional peppers. Hang and dry the peppers in a warm, dry, well-ventilated location. The dried peppers may be ground as needed. Hot peppers vary from mild ('False Alarm') to very hot ('Habanero' and 'Scotch Bonnet').
While hot peppers are popular in many dishes, dried red peppers are also ornamental
This article originally appeared in the July 16, 1999 issue, p. 96.