There is a secret to the Best Pepper Powders on The Planet and it is not so much about the peppers. Do you like it hot & spicy? So hot it melts your eyebrows? Or do you go for the stuff that is more flavor and less heat or just as much flavor as heat? You can custom blend your own pepper powders to your liking with this “Customizable Pepper Powder Seasoning Base” (the secret) and then add your favorite pure pepper powders for more heat … or for less heat. This post explains how to make the Best Pepper Powders on The Planet without breaking the bank.
You start by growing or purchasing a bunch of your favorite hot peppers and drying them — start small, maybe half a bushel’s worth. If you buy them, I recommend buying local, organic peppers from a farm market or local farmer. To dry them, many folks string up their peppers with needle and thread and hang them in a cool spot with good air circulation. That takes too long for me (besides, I don’t really have a good place to hang them) and there is always the risk they might rot. I prefer to dehydrate mine. Before dehydrating though, I think about what I want the end result to be and I may cut them and remove all the seeds to reduce the level of heat. But if I am planning a hotter recipe, I dehydrate them whole, leaving the seeds inside — less work for me. Once dried, I run them through my spice mill to get the finest powder possible. You can use a food processor but you won’t get as fine a powder. I don’t recommend it. I use this brand of spice mill and I love it.
STRONG WORD OF CAUTION! When working with hot peppers (regardless of their state: raw, dried, or powdered), always wear safety gear including non-latex food grade gloves and safety goggles to protect your eyes. Also follow these rules:
- If using a dehydrator, place it outdoors or away from high traffic areas and open windows. Do NOT dehydrate peppers in your oven as they will produce irritating fumes.
- Do not work in a pull over style shirt. Wear something that buttons or zips. When you are done, go change your shirt and launder the dirty shirt as soon as possible. Do not place it in the hamper.
- Once you have touched the peppers, DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE! If you get an itch, have someone else scratch it for you or have something handy to use as a scratching device.
- Work in a well ventilated area, preferably outdoors — especially if you don’t have a proper mask.
- If you have any respiratory issues, either get someone else to do your grinding or wear a quality mask designed for the purpose. My friend Zach (who raises all kinds of hot peppers & knows more about peppers than I ever will) recommends the 3M N95 Particulate Respirator for this purpose. I will be getting some of these myself very soon! Do NOT use a flimsy paper mask designed for painting or dust and do NOT use a surgical mask. These masks are not adequate for the super fine pepper dust and can even trap the dust inside. I know. I had it happen. Not a pretty sight.
- After grinding, wait a few minutes before you open the spice mill and let the dust settle to the bottom. Open slowly and carefully.
- Mask or no mask, if you are having trouble breathing LEAVE THE AREA AT ONCE and wait until the dust settles. Wipe all surfaces with a paper towel soaked in vinegar. Don’t stir the dust back up again. When the job is complete, clean all utensils and work surfaces with vinegar. Don’t remove your gloves or goggles until the clean up is done.
- Do not reuse gloves. Just throw them away when you are finished. Rinse all exposed skin with vinegar, then wash thoroughly with soap and hot water. Rinse well.
Yes, safety first!
Now for the secret to the Best Pepper Powders on the Planet! A good pepper powder is not just about the peppers. It is about flavor! Just grinding up some dried peppers alone is not enough and it will likely be so hot you can’t taste much else. You need to add a seasoning base first! Feel free to play with this recipe, but here is the base I use and everyone seems to just LOVE it! People have even offered me money to make them some … I just might have to do that.
Customizable Pepper Powder Seasoning Base
- 1 tablespoon (white) onion powder
- 1 tablespoon (red) onion powder (for a touch of mellow sweetness)
- 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin (give or take … some folks really like the cumin)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt (just don’t use regular table salt … blech … that will ruin it)
Now, once you have made your seasoning base, add 5 tablespoons of your favorite pure pepper powders or a blend of pepper powders. No two have to be alike. Some can simply have a nice flavorful kick and some can be so hot you are grabbing for bananas & milk. And maybe calling 911. I hope you don’t get that silly, though — that is just showing off. But depending on the peppers you chose, dried, and powdered, yes … you could show off a bit.
My mild blend, “Jo’s Nice Kick Blend,” is made of:
- Seasoning Base (above) plus …
- 1 tablespoon of pure Cayenne powder
- 2 tablespoons of pure Salsa powder
- 2 tablespoons of pure Chenzo powder
But my showoff blend, simply called “Jo’s OMG Blend” is made of:
- Seasoning Base (above) plus …
- 2 tablespoon of pure Cayenne powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of pure Habinero powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of pure Basket of Fire powder
I usually place my blends in pint or half pint size canning jars and vacuum seal them to keep them fresh longer. For more information about dehydrating and storing your pepper powders see How to Use Canning Jars For Dry Storage. I will be making more, new blends this winter because I now have access to many more pepper varieties including Ghost & Scorpion as well as some milder & sweeter varieties. I will let you know when I know for sure what all we are getting.
Interesting Facts: Eddie says there is something about “beef grease” that takes the heat right out of a fresh pepper powder. He suspects that hot beef grease and heat from the grill will actually cook the flavor right out of it. Strange. Seems fine on chicken, fish, or pork but on on beef, try sprinkling it on AFTER cooking. I wouldn’t know. I don’t even like hot peppers. That is the other interesting fact. I just grow them and blend them. I don’t eat them. But everyone who has tasted my recipe just BEGS for a batch! I think I need to start charging for it!
Regardless …. Just take the safety information above VERY seriously, folks! Please. I don’t want to see anyone get hurt.
And here are few photos along with some tips & tricks to guide you.
So anyway, take that Customizable Seasoning Base and tweak it to your liking. Then add five tablespoons of your favorite dried pepper varieties and let us know what you invented! Maybe you could patent it and get rich & famous! But if you do, I get 10% off the top!