Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

If there is one constant in gardening, it is that things are always transforming.  From the cycle of seed to seed, to the march of the seasons, there are countless changes taking place at any given time in the garden, and even after the harvest in the kitchen.  In the last several weeks, I have been gradually working on one of these transformations: I have been carefully processing the once shiny, candy apple red heirloom peppers I carefully strung to dry into a small jar of beautiful, spicy red pepper flakes that I am loving cooking with.    
If you remember back to my post about drying whole chili peppers, I explained that the Polish Cyklon Peppers are specifically grown for spice use because they have such thin flesh.  And truly, they are perfect for drying. I had practically no problems with spoilage (just one pepper that looked like it might have had some internal damage to start with), even with our Minnesota humidity that extended the drying time to just around 3 weeks.
 To process the whole dried chili peppers into crushed red pepper flakes:

A word of warning: Dry peppers can still burn.  Handle dry hot peppers with the same care you would fresh hot peppers. In addition, take extra care to avoid contact with eyes or breathing in the chili powder that will be created during the grinding process.

Seed saving tip: peppers are self-pollinating, so go ahead and reserve a few dried seeds for next year's planting!

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