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I want to buy chili peppers, dry them and grind them. I would use the powder as a spice for food, over a long(er) period of time.

Everything is simple and straightforward, except the grinding part. I do not want to use the coffee grinder that I already have (I would hate to have chili coffee, chili sugar and chili anything else), and I would also not want to buy another grinder just for chili peppers.

I am open to ideas. The grinding does not have to be perfect, but the size of the "granules" should be small enough - I need only very little usually, I do not like the food too spicy.

Mortar and pestle are probably even more expensive (and surely more difficult to use) than an electric grinder.

Mincing the peppers while fresh could be an alternative - but how? I do not have a mincing machine because I did not really need one in more than 5 years.

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In the past, to make a replacement for "red pepper flakes" to go on pizza, I've tried a mortar and pestle (doesn't work very well), blender (doesn't work very well, but is much easier to clean than a coffee grinder), and cutting with a sharp knife on a cutting board (lots of work and doesn't work very well, plus the flavor gets into the board).

The problem seems to be that peppers don't dry "crisp" like roasted coffee beans, they dry "leathery" like many other fruits and vegetables. And "leathery" doesn't grind well.

You need to chop but there are few machines made to finely chop leathery, seedy stuff. The best I could suggest (without having tried it) would be a meat grinder, but this is about as bulky as a food processor, has small parts that can get lost, and isn't cheap -- unless you expect to make ground meats or similar on a regular basis, it wouldn't make sense to get this just for occasional grinding of dried peppers.

Despite not wanting a dedicated machine, you might look at "blade grinder" coffee grinders. Some of these are as little as $20; they're very compact, and the high speed blade will probably do about as well as anything at cutting dried peppers. They also have safety features that prevent them operating with the lid unsecured, so you won't wind up with pepper flakes all over the room (or in your eyes and nose). I doubt one would handle a whole pepper of the hatchita or Santa Fe variety, but they should work well with habaneros, pequinos, and similar small peppers -- even up to the size of a small jalapeno.

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Chillies just don't grind well.
I'm not sure how they do it on industrial scale, but I would suspect something more akin to a pepper or coffee mill than a blender-style whirling blade.

The problem, as already mentioned is they're leathery not crisp, they also contain seeds which are surprisingly tough compared to the skin; this means you're trying to do two jobs in one.

You can do them in a spice or coffee mill, small fast 'whirling blades' chopper, or even a regular table pepper mill - but at risk of contamination of whatever you want to do next.

Personally, I do use a fast 'whirling blades' mill, ostensibly a spice grinder. It's small, has an all-metal construction & can easily be washed out before next use. It still doesn't really quite make a 'powder' like you'd get from a supermarket.
I have a regular domestic 'plastic' version which doesn't cope half as well. Though it can purée most things in seconds, chillies tend to just get thrown around rather than finely chopped/ground.

The downside - the price.
You'd have to get through a remarkable amount of chilli to equal the purchase price… & I mean in the order of kilos of chilli.

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For an entirely different approach, since it seems you can't grind chillies in a normal household - home-made chilli oil.

I took a small shaker bottle and filled it with oil, then put in some dried chillies. After a week or so I had lovely sharp oil for shaking on anything I think needs it. They float around and it looks rather decorative on the table. I could make more and give it away.

This would work for fresh chillies too, as I had occasion to discover, afer foolishly adding a few to my home-made pickles.

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  • I already used a variant of the method you proposed, but there as a problem. The peppers were mostly "entire" (slightly cut open to expose the inside), and the parts floating above the salty water rotted. Now I think of a way for the peppers to stay fully submerged.
    – virolino
    Dec 13, 2022 at 14:11
  • Oil. I used vegetable oil.
    – RedSonja
    Dec 13, 2022 at 14:12
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    Oil causes me stomach pain (burns), so I avoid it like the plague, even in very small quantities. Surprisingly, hot peppers only cause the normal "burns" in the mouth while eating, and no stomach problems.
    – virolino
    Dec 13, 2022 at 14:14
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Try a manual weed grinder/garlic mincer

The "NexTrend" Garlic Twist™

The round hand tool will work on the dried pepper but not on the tiny seeds. This thing will grind practically anything—as pictured.

They are not expensive and can be cleaned easily.

Good luck:

Edit: (Can't comment) The best way to dehydrate chili peppers (or most anything) is to put them in the refrigerator uncovered. In time, they will become brittle enough to grind into powder easily.

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  • It looks cool, but I never saw anything like it in real life.
    – virolino
    Dec 13, 2022 at 14:12
  • @virolino Have you ever visited a kitchen gadget store/site? Try a search for NexTrend Garlic Twist. They aren't cheap but they work well.
    – Stan
    Dec 21, 2022 at 16:34
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You could coarsely chop the chili peppers, put them in a freezer for a couple of days then grind them in a pepper grinder. If the ginding makes them too soft, you could keep the grinder in the freezer too.

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    The idea is cool indeed (to use "cryogenic" technologies). However, I do not have the pepper grinder. I think I will have to consider investing in one.
    – virolino
    Dec 20, 2022 at 12:42
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The device you need is called an "Electric Spice Grinder". It's cheap. I don't know how to add a photo.

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