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I home-grow chillis (Capsicum annuum, "Guarda Cielo") on my windowsill. This year, some of them began to have fruits very early (February to March). I left some of them on the plant for too long, which caused them to shrivel up quite a bit. I usually dry the chillis in the oven and use a mortar to process them into flakes for storage. Assuming there is no mold or obvious spoilage on the inside, are these still safe to eat?

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  • Why not taste-test them? What could you lose? Jul 20, 2022 at 23:19
  • Check the insides of the chillies. If the seeds are black from mold or there are visible strands of mold inside (it may not be visible from the outside of the pepper as the skin conceals what's going on underneath), toss them. If they look okay, they're safe to eat.
    – JohnEye
    Jul 21, 2022 at 10:12

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I've certainly done this with no ill effects, including on flavour - in fact when freezing some and drying some I tend to dry the ones like this, and freeze the juicier ones. One thing to watch out for is if you're drying some of these and some that aren't so dry to start with, the others will need a head start. In fact your middle one, with its greener stem, might have a little more moisture than the other two.

I'm pretty certain there's a traditional use of chillies that have dried on the plant, but I can't think of the name. Wikipedia has a photo showing whole bushes drying in a field at a commercial scale. This Indian company mentions partially drying on the plant in making sun-dried chillies.

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    I've dried some small to medium sized chilis on the plant very successfully, sometime by mistake, and they came out well. I wouldn't try it with larger, fleshier chilis
    – GdD
    Jul 20, 2022 at 13:22
  • @GdD The smaller, thinner-fleshed ones are better for drying anyway. I usually grow Apache, which look very much like the OP's, and sometimes dry them (I've oak-smoked them too). My Aji Limon were excellent pickled, and I freeze all varieties. But I've had a rubbish couple of years with very slow germination even heated and pests, so I might run out.
    – Chris H
    Jul 20, 2022 at 14:10
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    ... I suspect the fleshy ones would go visibly mouldy; I'd cut them open and check the inside too, which would also speed up the final drying
    – Chris H
    Jul 20, 2022 at 14:11
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As long as you don't see any mold or whatever might be going on that's obviously a 'red flag', you should be good. I have done this myself with great success.

But like mentioned here already, I'd try to stick with the thinner fleshed peppers for this mainly if this is your method of doing it. I haven't had great success with habaneros, ghosts, etc. they usually are too fleshy and hold enough moisture in the that they basically rot before I ever got them to actually dry out. I should add I am only referring to my process of letting them dry in a cool dry room in the open air though. If you're using an oven or whatever like you have already said, you could just about use any of them, I imagine. But if anything looks peculiar, I would absolutely not try it. You can very easily get food poisoning from old peppers if they have gone bad."

I learned this from many hours of research in college for a marketing class where I had to create and market, in very detailed steps, the entire process all the way from the very beginning steps (growing and/or procuring the ingredients, etc) of making a hot sauce. That is when I learned why there's things added, such as vinegar or citric acid, to many things. It keeps you from getting things like salmonella. (Its been a few years now but I am pretty sure that salmonella the one that was the main concern with old fruits and vegetables, and hence peppers.) And it is apparently far easier to get sick from something like that than I'd ever realized up until that semester. But if they look fine, you should be okay to do what youre wanting. Good luck!

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