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How To Dry Red Peppers And Make Paprika

While sweet paprika is relatively widely used in many parts of the world, such as the Iberian Peninsula, Middle East, the Balkans and Northern Africa, not too many people know how to make their own paprika. The dry peppers from which paprika is made are very popular ingredient for cooking many traditional dishes in some countries, such as Bulgaria and Macedonia. In Bulgaria dry peppers are used to make stuffed peppers and in stews during the winter months, when fresh peppers are off season. Hundreds of generations have dried peppers, but nowadays this simple trick have been largely forgotten.

Dried red peppers

Not every red pepper variety is suitable for drying. Usually the red bell peppers, especially the greenhouse-grown ones, are impossible to dry using the natural method that I will describe. Bell peppers are heavy and thick, and will rot before they get dry. The best pepper varieties for drying are long and thin, such as Shepherd red peppers, Hungarian peppers and Cubanelle peppers. Cubanelle peppers are usually hot, though.

To dry your own peppers you need several kilos of perfect peppers, without any spots or blemishes. Wash and wipe each pepper. String the peppers on a 1-meter long piece of butcher's twine, through the stem. Leave about 1-3 cm. space between each pepper. Use as many strings as you need. Hang each string outside under a shade, in an airy place protected from direct sunlight. It takes about 1 month before the peppers are completely dry.

How to make paprika:

Once the peppers are ready, take as many as you need and remove the seeds and the stems. Break them coarsely into a blender bowl and process them into powder. The rest of the peppers can be stored by hanging them in a cellar. Homemade paprika can be sweet or hot, depending on the peppers.

Another use of the dry peppers is for cooking and stuffing. If you want to stuff the dry peppers, you have to re-hydrate them briefly in cold water, stuff them and cook them according to your favorite recipe. The difference in taste between dry peppers and fresh peppers is huge. It is like to compare sun-dried tomatoes with fresh tomatoes. Dry peppers are very tasty and healthy food, and are very easy to make.

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Chef George Krumov
About the author: George Krumov is a Red Seal certified chef with many years of culinary experience working around the world in Europe, the Middle East, the cruise line industry and North America. In the last two decades he has headed the kitchens of several restaurants in Canada, and ran his own restaurant.

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