Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pepper Day At The Ranch

I used up the last of my BBQ rub blend and we used the last of the chili powder Friday, so it’s time to make new batches. I’d been drying my paprika and anaheim peppers as I harvested them, and now it’s time to grind and make the spice blends.

I used an Excalibur dehydrator to dry them. It usually takes about 48 hours at 125 degrees to get them good and crisp.

After using a coffee grinder for several years to grind the peppers, I bought this Family Grain Mill – purchased from Pleasant Hill Grain. The advantages of the mill are a much more consistent grind size and it’s a lot quicker. I have a hand crank for it but also bought the adaptor for attaching to our KitchenAid mixer, which makes the process a snap. I wouldn’t want to use it to grind a 50# sack of flour for all my neighbors, but for what I was doing it was far better than the coffee grinder. Here are a couple pics of the set up.

First, I break up the peppers into smaller pieces in my hand so they’ll fit down the feed tube. I had just a few anaheims so I tossed them in the mix.

This is how they looked after a coarse grind pass.

Then I ran them through an intermediate grind.

Lastly I ran them thru on the final grind and they’re ready for blending.

I ended up with 2 1/4 pounds, which at Penzey's prices is about $15 worth. Counting my labor, equipment & materials to raise the transplants, grow them in the garden, harvest-prep-dry, and grind, I probably have $100 per pound in this batch. Humm!

Why do I do this you might ask. Have you ever used paprika as an actual spice or is it used mostly to add color on top of deviled eggs and other dishes. One reason is that store bought paprika has very little flavor compared to mine – which is more like a burst of sweet red pepper in your mouth. There is no comparison between the two and since my rub and chili powder contain lots of it, I have to use the good stuff. I also grow and grind my own chile pepper powder for the same reason.

The whole process took about 1½ hours, but I think I could have done it in two passes – this was my first time using it for peppers. I’m very pleased with the result and as soon as my new supply of dried herbs gets here from Penzey’s Spices, I’ll commence to blending.

Have a great day,



  1. Great post. I have a terrific spice guy, and I am lazy about doing these things myself. Now I have the resources and soon I will feel guilty enough to do the entire process myself. making your own rub is an important part of being master of the grill

    Excellent post

  2. Thanks Dave - Where do you get yours? I still by lots of other items and always looking for the best source.

  3. At our local farmers market, there is a guy that sells spices $1 a scoop. An amazing deal that you need to be close to Kansas City to take advantage of.. Even Saffron threads (but those are the only ones they charge 2$ a scoop).

  4. Man, I am sooooooo impressed. Are you going to smoke some of the paprika too? My mouth is watering just from looking at this.


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