Remember how I told you about my favorite way to make hot pepper sauce? There is only one sad thing about it, and that’s the hot pepper “dregs” that are left in the strainer/food mill after you work all the sauce through. It’s tragic really. There are seeds, and pulp, and just enormous amounts of flavor. I can’t bear to waste them, so I don’t. I conserve them and use them in all sorts of things. You can put the paste in the fridge, tightly packed into a small container to minimize air contact and use it as harissa wannabe. Add it to soups, stews, bread dough, scrambled eggs and all sorts of other things. Mixed with a bit of mayo, pesto, mustard or hummus, this makes a KILLER sandwich spread. The heat is in concentrated form, though, so use with caution and only serve to heat lovers.
If you prefer to season with dry, rather than wet, ingredients, there is always the dehydration option. If you have a dehydrator with temperature controls, keep your heat to 110 (check with a thermometer that the reading is correct before you start) and you’ll end up with probiotic pepper powder. If you don’t mind if your microbes die, you can dry them in the oven (this is also WAY quicker). With the dehydrator, you need the special fruit roll sheets, and it can take about 24 hours. In the oven, just spread the mixture as thinly as possible onto parchment paper or a silpat. It’s okay if there are bare spots, but the more consistent you can be, the more evenly dried your future pepper flakes will be. Heat the oven to 170 (that’s the lowest temp on my oven) and bake for about 3 hours, or until completely dry. Let them cool, and then put them under a cloth and pound them a bit until you have small pieces. Use as you would red pepper flakes, but be aware that these are more flavorful, more acidic and likely hotter than your average, so adjust your usage accordingly!
I sub these for some of the pepper powder in my kimchi and it does add a little kick!
TL;DR Here are some ways I use the “dregs” leftover from straining hot sauce:
Dehydrated and broken up into pepper flakes-
- Add to salad dressing for some spicy greens
- Sprinkle over crudités or into ranch dressing dip for some hot veg
- Sprinkled over grain or pasta dishes
- Blended into the gochujang for an extra awesome kimchi
Left as a paste-
- Mixed into bread dough
- Added to soups or stews for an extraordinary broth
- Mixed with mayo to make a dip or sandwich spread
- Whisked into scrambled eggs (especially good for chilaquiles or breakfast tacos)
- Blended into hummus
One of the many reasons I ferment is to prevent food waste in my own kitchen. I do feel a sense of responsibility to do this, but when the results of preventing food waste taste so delicious, it’s really not a chore at all! What’s your favorite way to use something that might otherwise end up on the compost pile?