We have recently dehydrated a lot of full (i.e. in-tact) hot peppers. Cut the ends off the lovelies and dried them crispy. There were about 15-20 pounds of them in total. I adore the look of the final product , here`s a sample:
Working with these can appear to be a challenge. They don`t chop easily as they tend to shatter and launch fragments of pepper powder across your kitchen and it`s a lot of work to fire up the blender each and every time you want to use them. You could blend a bunch at once but the flavor of unused pepper will disappear quicker from powder than it will from the whole beast.
Another option is to rehydrate them in boiling water. We do this by putting the peppers in a coffee mug and pouring hot water over them. I usually cover the works with a small plate to retain the heat and have something mailable in 15-20 minutes. This disadvantage is that some of the heat and flavor is transferred into the water that most discard (in the case of smoked peppers like chipotles, I tend to reserve it to use as liquid smoke).
My preference, when cooking soups or sauces (we were cooking chilli yesterday) is to add the peppers whole to your dish as it cooks. The peppers will rehydrate with the liquid of your dish and the flavors of the peppers will transfer to what they are cooking within (much like tea does to the water it sits in). This also gives you an option to reduce your heat by removing the peppers use them for something else. We love spicy thins so we pull them out and slice them up like they were whole and add them back to what we are cooking – they`re not quite as plump as they were before dehydration but are very easy to slice and are visible within our chilli:
This may seem startlingly obvious to many but was a valuable lesson a few years back that would have saved me many bouts of frustration as hot peppers exploded across my kitchen!