Every year I plant one or two cayenne pepper plants and then, one August day, go out and find them exploding with hot, red, dangerously delightful-looking peppers. I pick them all at once, and in a matter of minutes, have them prepared and preserved to last the whole winter, when I know I will need their burning beautiful heat the most.
I take a damp paper towel, wipe each one down just in case there is some dirt on them (although they are always pretty clean-looking already), and put them in a pan to dry in the oven. I turn the oven on to 200 degrees and let them sit in there for a few hours. At 200, it's hard to burn something, but when I start to smell that spicy cayenne-ness, I check on them and turn off the heat -- leaving them in the oven overnight.
Then, the next day, or perhaps the day after that if I've forgotten, I take them out of the oven and put them in a jar... WITHOUT A LID, just in case there is any moisture left in them. And I put that jar in my spice cabinet to await frying. Yes, I said FRYING.
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