Smoked Peppers: Paprika, Hungarian, Cayanne, and Habanero

This past year, S and I had a raised bed veggie garden installed in our backyard. We decided to grow a couple types of peppers in our garden, cayenne and Alma paprika peppers. During the last month or so, we found ourselves having lots of extra peppers near the end of the growing season, plus some accumulated peppers from the local farmers market. I decided that I *needed* to smoke the paprika peppers to make our own smoked paprika powder. Yes, I needed to. Just because we have a smoker. Since I was going to be smoking the paprika peppers, I decided I might as well smoke the other peppers as well. An experiment!

I have never smoked peppers before, and did some research online. The process seemed straight forward. Get peppers -> place in smoker -> wait hours -> remove from smoker -> Yum!

The first batch included 2 peppers from our garden, Alma Paprika and Hungarian Peppers. The remaining 2 types of peppers are cayenne and habanero’s, purchased at our local (Kingston, Ontario) farmers market.

My preparation for most of the peppers was simply to cut the peppers in half. I found this worked well for thin walled peppers, such as the Hungarian’s, Cayenne’s, and Habanero’s. The Alma Paprika’s have a really thick wall, and my first attempt was to only cut the peppers into fourths. This first batch of paprika’s took many many hours to completely dry out. The second batch (another post), worked much better as I cut the pieces up very small and scored the outer skin. Also in the first batch, the cayenne’s had been around for awhile and have already started drying out; so I did not cut these ones in half.

The reason I cut the peppers was to accelerate the drying process, and to allow impart more smoke flavour into the peppers.

I use a wood pellet BBQ from a company called Traeger. It is nice in that the wood pellets are automatically fed into a firepot and temperature feedback loop maintains a chosen temperature. In this case I was smoking around 250 F. I do not recall the type/flavour of wood pellets I used.

The Hungarian’s, Cayenne’s, and Habanero’s were done after about … 5 to 6 hours? They were likely done before that point; I forgot to check on the them near the end. The paprika peppers where on the smoker for at least 8 or 9 hours, and had to be finished off in the oven at low heat.

Once all the peppers where smoked and dried, I used a mortal and pestle to crush them into a near powder like substance. It takes a lot of work to get the smoked peppers to a powder using this method, and you can still have large pieces of pepper skin remaining. I have since put the smoked peppers through a spice grinder to get a nice fine powder.

I kept the seeds and internal ribbing of the peppers during the smoking and powdering process. As a result, the seeds added an extra bit of spiciness to all the powders. In case you were curious, the increasing level of spicy heat goes as follows: alma paprika, Hungarian, Cayenne, and finally Habanero. All the smoked pepper powders have a wonderful flavour, and varying levels of spicy heat. If you even happen to be visiting, let me know if you want to sample the smoked pepper powders.

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