by Tammy Taylor
*this post contains an affiliate link
I’ve been using my solar oven pretty heavily this year and I’ve finally dehydrated all my excess garden tomatoes for the summer. (again for those of you asking, I have a * Sun Oven solar oven and I love it!) I’ll use the dehydrated tomatoes in numerous ways – to make tomato paste for homemade pizza and to thicken my homemade blender salsa, among other ways. This late into summer is usually so very hot and dry that the garden stops producing and I just try to keep the garden watered enough to struggle it along in hopes of getting some kind of tiny fall garden production. This time of year 99% of my garden is out of production but we do have one last veggie going strong – FIERY-RED JALAPENOS!
I harvested all the jalapenos remaining on the garden plants and brought them inside. After a quick wash & dry I set out to cut them thinly and uniformly. I’ve learned from past mistakes that no matter how well or often you wash your hands, processing jalapenos will leave your skin burning for days. So I have incorporated this clever way of slicing the peppers – I use a sharp shrimp fork to pierce the pepper on the very edge of one side & start slicing the pepper longways in thin slices.
Um hummmm… Don’t even try to act like you’re not secretly jealous of my high-dollar cutting board! A family member who still has children living at home saves me the lids from tubs of ice cream – these are always my cutting boards on the ranch because: They’re recyclable, the lip around them keeps juices from spilling onto my counters, they’re easily bendable to pour the chopped food from them and when these lids get all scratched I simply recycle that one & start using a new one. But I digress…
Now that my peppers are all sliced I use the knife blade to transfer the jalapeno slices to a rack topped with parchment paper, sliding the pepper slice from the blade with my shrimp fork. Even though my hands are washed well both before & after processing the peppers, using this minimal-touch method keeps those jalapeno oils from soaking into my skin and burning for days. Since I’ve been dehydrating tomatoes lately so after I pull those dehydrated tomatoes from the parchment paper I just add the jalapenos using that same paper. Reduce – Reuse – Recycle. (does anyone know if parchment paper can go into the composter after these peppers are dehydrated?)
Anyway since the rack is topped with parchment paper the jalapenos wont fall through the grid as they dry & shrink. Now that they’re all prepared I place my rack of peppers into the solar oven, leaving the door unlatched to allow some of the heat to escape and I point the oven’s reflectors toward the sun. At first the temps will soar pretty quickly even with the door unlatched. If it gets too high I’ll move the oven so it’s not as directly aligned with the sun, which will gradually reduce the inside temps. Although I don’t mind an initial internal temperature of about 300 I like to keep the inside temps to around 200 after the first hour or so to keep my thin slices from burning. Depending upon cloud cover and how well you monitor the temps inside the oven, these slices will slowly dehydrate in about 5-6 hours.
Now I just bring in the brittle dried jalapeno slices & grind them into a flavorful powder. I’ll use this powder to spice our food with a little home-grown sizzle! No jalapenos from the garden are wasted, no plastic bottle of commercially-produced seasoning entering the house. Win/Win!
* A word about our Affiliate Link – We are currently enrolled as an Amazon Affiliate. Occasionally I will insert an affiliate link into one of my posts if I think it may be of interest to you. I receive nothing from the manufacturer, but I love this solar oven & thought you might too. If you click on any of my affiliate links and buy something (almost anything, not just what was linked) I get a small referral percentage from Amazon. But here’s the really important part – the price you pay for your items is UNCHANGED.
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