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Some information about making your own smoked paprika  RSS feed

 
Dan Boone
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As part of my ongoing evaluation of my pantry where I go "Why am I buying this, could I grow it?  Or maybe grow a substitute that would make me just as happy?" I was thinking last week about smoked paprika.  It's a new ingredient to me, saw it on the cooking shows, finally found some at a bulk spice place.  It's wonderful -- a great way to put just a hint of rich savory smoke flavor into foods.  I put a pinch into a great many of the boring vegetable dishes that I'm always trying to make more flavorful and interesting.  And my thought was, what if I smoked my own peppers?  Sure, they wouldn't be the "right" peppers and the flavor wouldn't be the same, but I was thinking I could manage something that was tasty enough. 

And that's where the thought ended.  I should Google that one of these days.  On to the next thought.

Still haven't done the Google.  But last night while doing dishes I had an ancient episode of Alton Brown's "Good Eats" show blaring on the TV.  It was one of his meat shows and I don't eat much meat, so I didn't give it my full attention.  But as he was throwing together a marinade, suddenly he digressed for about ninety seconds on the topic of smoked paprika, where I learned in his opinionated, geeky, over-detailed way the following things:

  • It usually comes from Spain.  (I would have guessed Hungary.)
  • It is smoked in adobe ovens.
  • The smoking wood used is traditionally oak.


  • And bam!  Just like that, a 300% increase in my knowledge about smoked paprika.  I still need to Google up the identify of some likely Spanish peppers, but I was nonetheless tickled by the info dump.  Am sharing it here based on my suspicion that if anybody else is thinking along similar lines, these particular info nuggets might be helpful in getting somebody halfway along the path to their own smoked paprika. 

     
    John Polk
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    I've looked at these for years, but never tried them:
    Territorial Seeds: Alma Paprika Pepper
    Alma-Paprika-Pepper.PNG
    [Thumbnail for Alma-Paprika-Pepper.PNG]
     
    r ranson
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    Wow!  This is a pretty mind-blowing idea to me.  Smoked paprika is one of my favourite spices, like saffron, they are both expensive as all hell, but so worth it. 

    This year, I have another huge harvest of hot peppers.  Finally, I've figured out how to grow then and boy oh boy, do they grow.  I have these fairly big ones, that are super-spicy.  I also have a bbq/smoker that I use for making bacon.  Do you think they could combine somehow?  Next year I'll have to grow paprika.

    I wonder if I need to smoke them fresh.  Maybe I can smoke them then dry them as per normal?  Would that still retain the delicious taste?
     
    Dan Boone
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    R Ranson wrote:This year, I have another huge harvest of hot peppers.  Finally, I've figured out how to grow then and boy oh boy, do they grow.  I have these fairly big ones, that are super-spicy.  I also have a bbq/smoker that I use for making bacon.  Do you think they could combine somehow?  Next year I'll have to grow paprika.

    I wonder if I need to smoke them fresh.  Maybe I can smoke them then dry them as per normal?  Would that still retain the delicious taste?


    You're way ahead of me!  This year I focused on bell peppers (consistent sources of failure for me) and finally have a few to eat, but no surplus.  I left the hot peppers alone, as I never can use very many. 

    I think peppers like John posted (sweet, just a hint of heat) are probably the base for smoked paprika.  But I think any sort of pepper that's smoked and dried and ground would make a tasty culinary spice, so I say you should put some of your surplus hot peppers in your smoker and see if you like the result!  If it's radically different from the culinary version you're using, it still probably won't be bad, and you can always try again next year with different peppers.

    I am currently not sure whether a long hot smoke that leaves the peppers dry enough to grind into powder is the method, or whether it's some sort of smoke-then-dry-then-grind process.
     
    Mick Fisch
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    WOW, smoking paprika!  Is that like smoking a salmon?  I find salmon don't draw worth a darn, and they are really hard to light! (grin, I get to trot out an old joke when I see the opening)
     
    Bryant RedHawk
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    If you are smoking peppers either for chipotle (smoked jalapenos) or paprika (smoked Capsicum annuum).  You smoke fresh peppers, then dry them. Once dried you can grind them up.

    Smoked habanero is pretty awesome too.

    Some folks use cold smoke for this process but I like using my side box smoker and try to keep the heat low with lots of smoke. The smoke wood can be hickory, mesquite, oak, pecan, or what ever else you like to use.
     
    S Tonin
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    Since I don't have a smoker and have thusfar had no luck with actually growing any paprika/ pimento/ cheese type peppers, I cheat and make my own version of smoked paprika.  I have a jar of bulk hickory smoke powder (and holy cow is it powerful, for years I had to keep it sealed inside two layers of plastic bags, but it's mellowed a lot with age) and I buy the big bulk bags of paprika from the Indian section of the grocery store.  I mix about a half cup of paprika with a tiny pinch of the smoke powder and I have something approximating smoked paprika.  The longer it sits, the more the flavor blends.  Probably not what you were looking for, but it's a quick fix and also a lot less expensive per pound.
     
    Jason Learned
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    Alma means apple in Hungarian so it is probably a type used. My friends in Hungary that make paprika use a more pointy one and control the heat with the amount of seeds they grind into the mix, but use a different variety if they just want the sweet kind. They also claim that the Spanish use their chilli varieties to make the smoked one. At least started with theirs, who knows how they have changed over the years. This makes sense to me because their was a long connection between Spain and Austro-Hungary so it could have been taught to the Spanish and then they went with it in their own way. They make a great fuss over the drying insisting they dry slowly-- I suspect this is because Hungary gets humid in late summer so things naturally dry slower. Incidentally Paprika is the Hungarian word for peppers in general as well as the powder.

    Good luck!

    I'm sure whatever you make will taste great

    Jason
     
    Dan Boone
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    S Tonin wrote:I have a jar of bulk hickory smoke powder.
      I am not familiar with that product, but if it's anything like the "liquid smoke" products out there it would not work for me flavor-wise.

    On a humorous note, I'd hate to be the poor guy who has to tell everyone that he sells powdered smoke for a living.
     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    What a great thread - thanks Dan!

    I first looked for smoked paprika at Whole Foods several years ago. When we asked a store worker about it, in case it was just missing from the shelves or we couldn't find it, he went in to the back and after some time returned to say Whole Foods could not find a smoked paprika that they approved of to carry on their shelves. No matter how you feel about Whole Foods, or whether this was true or not, it still gave me pause.

    Paul and I are passionate about eating organic or better. All our spices and herbs are organic or better. I could not find organic smoked paprika, so I didn't stock our kitchen with it.

    Later, a friend suggested taking your regular paprika (or peppers?) and "smoking" it/them in the oven. I can't recall his exact recommendation now. I'd love to hear if others have had experience with this.

    Since we have smoked salts, I imagine that the dried ground paprika could be smoked, though perhaps with different or not as rich results as smoking the pepper before drying and grinding.

     
    S Tonin
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    Dan Boone wrote:
    S Tonin wrote:I have a jar of bulk hickory smoke powder.
      I am not familiar with that product, but if it's anything like the "liquid smoke" products out there it would not work for me flavor-wise.

    On a humorous note, I'd hate to be the poor guy who has to tell everyone that he sells powdered smoke for a living.


    Hahahaha

    As far as what it is, I would assume it is like liquid smoke, unfortunately.  I've never tasted or used liquid smoke, so I can't say for certain, but I got it in the spice aisle of the Mennonite bulk grocery store I go to, so it's probably the same stuff I saw when I googled.  This stuff doesn't really have much of an actual taste, just mostly the scent component.   
     
    John Todd
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    Here's how I do it:

    1. Gather, wash, and let drip dry a boatload of peppers.  (I don't trim or even remove the stems yet.)

    2.  Build a charcoal fire in a smoker and have your smokewood handy.

    3.  Load as many peppers as you can fit into the smoker.  Any sane person would say you are way overloaded.

    4.  Put some smokewood on the charcoal and close everything up.

    5.  Every hour come and (using long tongs and gloves) stir the peppers by reaching into the mass and "lifting" to churn them around.

    6.  Add more smokewood.

    7.  When peppers are mushy and sweaty,  it's done.  Remove stems at this time.

    8.  Dehydrate peppers in a dehydrator until bone dry.  (Once again I overload and let it takes it's time.  Does take longer.)

    9.  Use food processor to pulverize into a fine powder (DO NOT BREATH THE DUST!)

    10.  Store in a mason jar to keep moisture out.  (Powder is extremely hydroscopic and will clump easily)


    ...obviously, use a slow charcoal fire and not a real hot one.  You want to maximize smoking time before the peppers turn to mush.

    I do this every year and the powder turns out absolutely fantastic!  I smoke them over maple 'cause that's what I got lying around.

    Hope this helps!
    -Johntodd
     
    Jd Gonzalez
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    In Spain, the "choricero" pepper and the "bola" or "ñora" pepper are the most used for smoked sweet paprika. They're smoked low and slow and dry  aided by very low air humidity.
     
    r ranson
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    I'm smoking peppers today!

    Thanks for the inspiration.
    14719881158431315385812.jpg
    [Thumbnail for 14719881158431315385812.jpg]
     
    Dan Boone
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    Way to go!  Anxiously awaiting your report at the end of the experiment.

    My sister just gave me a huge grocery bag full of hot yellow banana peppers that were too hot for her family (and frankly they are too hot for me, too).  So they sat on her four plants unpicked and have all begun to turn a gorgeous shade of red.  They are lovely and I could not let them go to waste.  They are too hot to make "proper" smoked paprika but I may try the experiment anyway; some smoky hot red chili powder would be a useful ingredient to have on hand.  My other notion is to just fridge-pickle them in a vinegar brine that I can then use as a "hot vinegar" condiment all winter.
     
    r ranson
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    I don't know if I smoked them enough or at the right temperature, or anything.  But I used what I got, which is a side box BBQ which I hot smoke bacon in.  I smoked the chilis at about 200 F (give or take 50 degrees) with hunks of wood from the apple branch that fell down.  I used up my meager supply of wood that I had brought to the smoker at about 5 hours, so that's how long I did it for.  The peppers were leathery by then. 

    Reading afterwards on the internet, it looks like people like to cut open their peppers first, even remove the seeds.  I'm far too lazy for that.  I tossed them in whole, but about half way through, I decided to cut a slit in the larger peppers.  They are now finishing off in the dehydrator.

    As for the kinds of peppers?  The big ones are Big Jim or a descendent of that variety.  The smaller ones might be cayenne as I think I planted some of those. 
     
    Thekla McDaniels
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    And for those who want the organic smoked paprika powder, and probably won't be making their own this year,  here is organic smoked paprika by the pound from Amazon

    https://www.amazon.com/Frontier-Paprika-Powder-Certified-Organic/dp/B001VNGO7S

    I have used used organic smoked paprika from Frontier(the brand for sale on amazon).  It is not spicy, like chipotle, or any mixture of smoked hot chili peppers would be.  I think Frontier or another bulk supplier also has smoked HOT paprika.
     
    Bryant RedHawk
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    Paprika is the Hungarian word that means pepper. 
    In Spain they cap, de-seed and de-vein the peppers prior to smoking for making smoked paprika.
    A friend of mine from Spain told me that you use "cold smoke" meaning under 250 f for those of us in the USA.
    I usually smoke my peppers for 4-6 hours usually until the meat of the pepper looks dry.
    I use either hickory or oak (Spaniards use oak) for any smoking.
    I start a hickory fire in the side box and let it burn down to coals while the wood for smoking is soaking in water (I use half logs by the way).
    Once the peppers are smoked I peal the skins off and lay the peppers on parchment paper (we always have parchment paper on hand) to cool prior to going into the dehydrator.
    In the dehydrator they dry at 140 f until they are bone dry.
    I store these in mason jars and use a coffee grinder to make my powder as needed, that way it is always as fresh as possible.

    Wolf, my wife, (licensed chef), prefers the flavor and taste of my homemade paprika over all the store bought brands.

    Redhawk
     
    r ranson
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    Please forgive my ignorance, I'm self-taught at smoking.  Why do you soak the wood prior to smoking?
     
    Bryant RedHawk
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    I fill a 5 gal. pail with wood pieces then fill it with water.
    The reason for soaking your smoke wood is so that it will smoke longer before catching fire.

    It is also best to use wood that has been cut and split for at least a year.
    Green wood can put nasty flavors in your meats and other foods you smoke.

    You can (should you want or need to) simply build a fire with any of the smoking woods but when using fruit woods (simply brilliant flavors come from these) you would burn up a lot of that flavor enhancer.

    I almost always use Hickory (I have both Oak and Hickory growing in my woodlot forest) for making coals, it burns hotter than the Oak.
    Hickory trees have fallen from the storms of 2016 and so I have lots of it.
    My Oak trees are mostly White Oaks and I try to save them to make stave wood out of or furniture or timbers.

    If you need more tips R. Ranson, let me know (Wolf says I am an expert at smoking and BBQ) I'm always happy to help.

    Redhawk
     
    John Polk
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    Why do you soak the wood prior to smoking?

    Dry wood will get too hot, and burn.
    Soaked wood will stay cooler, and steam/smoulder.
    Produces good smoke without cooking the target food.
     
    Samuel MacHay
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    R Ranson wrote:I'm smoking peppers today!  Thanks for the inspiration.


    Oh Man!  That's a great picture! Literally made my mouth water!  I'm jealous!  >  But, since I've got a bunch of pimentos and cow horns coming in, I'll be trying this out over the weekend! 
     
    Thekla McDaniels
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    It's so fun!  I love surprises.  I always thought smoked paprika was the paprika powder smoked in a smoker.
     
    Bryant RedHawk
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    Dan Boone wrote:Way to go!  Anxiously awaiting your report at the end of the experiment.

    My sister just gave me a huge grocery bag full of hot yellow banana peppers that were too hot for her family (and frankly they are too hot for me, too).  So they sat on her four plants unpicked and have all begun to turn a gorgeous shade of red.  They are lovely and I could not let them go to waste.  They are too hot to make "proper" smoked paprika but I may try the experiment anyway; some smoky hot red chili powder would be a useful ingredient to have on hand.  My other notion is to just fridge-pickle them in a vinegar brine that I can then use as a "hot vinegar" condiment all winter.


    If you de- seed and de- vein those hot peppers then roast them over a low flame, you can remove some of the heat of the peppers.

    If you were to de-seed and vein them, then soak in a solution of apple vinegar (not white) and sugar like a marinade (a few hours) then roast them, you would probably like the results.
     
    r ranson
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    Bryant RedHawk wrote:I fill a 5 gal. pail with wood pieces then fill it with water.
    The reason for soaking your smoke wood is so that it will smoke longer before catching fire.

    It is also best to use wood that has been cut and split for at least a year.
    Green wood can put nasty flavors in your meats and other foods you smoke.

    You can (should you want or need to) simply build a fire with any of the smoking woods but when using fruit woods (simply brilliant flavors come from these) you would burn up a lot of that flavor enhancer.


    That's really neat.  There is so much to smoking that I don't know.

    I've just been making a small charcoal fire, get it good and warm, add the chunks of fruit wood on top, then shutting down the air so that it smolders without going out (more air for hotter smoking).  I found if I put the intake vent a little bit larger than the chimney vent, I get lots of smoke and consistent temp.  I haven't had any trouble with it catching fire unnecessarily before... but I could see it might happen if I left the vent open too much.  I'll have to try soaking it next time to see if it makes a difference.

    I'm wondering if I'm going to need a hotter fire, or maybe just a bigger one?  With the dry wood, my fire cools down quite a bit when I add more fuel (more than just opening the fire box would justify). 


    I'm using fruit wood because it's what happens when I prune the trees.  The chunks are about the size of a person's fist.  I haven't noticed a difference between green and aged wood, but I didn't know I was supposed to pay attention.  I'll keep a taste bud out for that next time I try smoking something.

    Also, why do some people use shavings?  Is this because they use an electric smoker?

    I'm really interested in the idea of not needing to use charcoal.  I actually don't know why I use it, as I do most of my cooking (grill or fire box) with fruit wood.  I guess because it's a 'charcoal bbq' I feel obligated to start the fire with charcoal.


    What I'm doing is working for me, but I am always curious how other people do things in case I'm missing out on something awesome.  Thanks so much for sharing your smoking tips.


    On the pepper front, the peppers are still slowly drying in the dehydrator.  I think it would go faster if I sliced into them, but I don't mind the wait.  As they dry, the cayenne are turning dark, dark red, almost black.  It's gorgeous!  Oh, and the smell!!!  I wish I could post a smell to you all. 

     
    Bryant RedHawk
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    Yes, cayenne peppers should be black when smoked and dried (very Cajun  )
    People slice them open so there is no chance of mold growing while drying. I've never had any issue with mold on smoked peppers while they dry in a dehydrator.
    I usually take out the seeds if the end product is going to be ground to powder, just makes it easier and faster.

    charcoal is fine, but to get a longer burn lay down a bunch of unlit coals then pour some lit coals on top (this is called a top down burn and is used to get a long, even burning temp).

    I just build fires, when this first batch is mostly coals I toss on a few more splits (1/4 logs) and start smoking.  I have a real thermometer in the smoke box (where you put the meats and what ever else you are smoking) that reads to 500 degrees f.

    My gas "grill" is used mostly for steaks and I also use it as an oven, it has a thermometer that reads to 700 degrees f and it has six burners.
    I've gotten to where I can keep a steady temp from 200 f all the way up to 600 f (550 f is where I do pizzas on the grill, takes about 7 minutes and they are ready).

    There is nothing at all wrong with always using fruit woods (they just don't get as hot as oak or hickory and I always say "use what you have").
    I love to save my pruning's from the orchard (Apple, Pear, Plum, Peach) for smoking with.  Trout is wonderful when smoked with fruit wood.

    The great thing about smoking (BBQ) is that you are only limited by your own desires. You can even do cakes, pies, pizza (excellent smoked or just done like it was in a wood fired oven), your imagination is the limiting factor.
    if you use coals (either charcoal from a store or by letting a wood fire burn down to coals) then the wood will usually not catch fire if you put on enough wood to cover the coals, the wood just turns into new coals once all the oils have turned to smoke.

    Rubs and marinades open up other realms of flavors as does basting after the smoke ring has formed.
    sugars will burn if you use a sauce for basting to soon, Apple Cider Vinegar is what I use in a spray bottle to keep meats and vegetables moistened while cooking, this tenderizes and adds some flavor at the same time for meats, keeps skins pliable for veggies.

    I don't know if you do ribs and know about this trick, If you remove the meniscus (the "skin" on the bone side of ribs) then you will get fall off the bone tender ribs that get smoke nearly all the way through with the low and slow BBQ method.
    spritzing every hour with the ACV will form a nice Natural bark that will make you salivate on sight of it.

    If you do fish and can't hang them, or if they are fillets, put the skin side down and leave it down.  If you can hang your fish, toothpicks can hold the body cavity open for a better smoke and there won't be any "slimy" areas from the flesh touching while cooking.
    This same effect can be done by using crumpled parchment paper (small ball shape works best) just place them so there isn't any sag between them and use a heavy smoke for the first hour.
    If you do a long smoke, fish will last up to a week and a half when kept in the fridge once fully cooled.

    Candied trout is made with a marinade of 1 cup brown sugar dissolved in water, 2 tsp. ACV and what ever other herbs you like. Marinade for at least 24 hours (you need enough marinade to completely cover the fish, which is cut into strips). Do a low and slow smoke for 2-3 hours then let cool completely then dehydrate about half of the moisture (at least).

    Enjoy!
    This will keep in the fridge for up to a month. Vacuum pack for up to six months survival in the fridge.
     
    r ranson
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    Some of the smaller peppers are dry now, so I broke a bit off and tasted it.  What a disappointment, so sweet and not at all spicy.  But what the heck, I've come this far.  I ground up the pepper in the 'spice grinder' (aka, electric coffee grinder) and carefully, at arms length, opened the lid to give it a sniff.


    HOT DAMN!



    I'm pretty casual about chili peppers and have breathed in more than my share of curry and spice... but bloody hell (yes, I'm using 'adult' language, but really there is nothing else sufficient to describe the pain), this stuff stings! 


    I am now officially in love with smoked hot peppers!  I think something mild like cayenne works well.  I haven't tried the Big Jim's yet, but I suspect if I want to replace paprika, a combo of Big Jim and Cayenne would be just about perfect for my tastes. 
     
    r ranson
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    Once I've recovered, I'll need recipe ideas for my hot smoked chilis.

    I'm thinking buttered chicken for dinner.  Jamie Oliver has a good, from scratch, recipe for the spice paste in one of his books

    What other yummy things shall I make?
     
    John Polk
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    Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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    I used to go about 2-3 times a year to an outlaying community where there was a Hungarian deli.
    He did his own Paprika (and sugar) cure for his bacon.

    Whenever I passed through, I HAD TO get a slab.  Yum-yum.

     
    r ranson
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    Location: Left Coast Canada
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    Peppers are dry.  Ground some up to use. Keeping the rest whole and in an airtight jar.
    1472149490428-1335845871.jpg
    [Thumbnail for 1472149490428-1335845871.jpg]
     
    Dan Boone
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    Update.  The big bowl of hot banana peppers that my sister gave me has been ripening and reddening and wrinkling on my counter for some time now.  I was stalling because my dehydrator broke, but the new one finally got here.   So today I decided it was time to process them.

    I don't have a smoker nor any experience smoking things since I was a kid tending my mother's smokehouse full of salmon.  So I improvised a smoker setup that turned out to be (a) too hot, (b) too fast-burning of the oak chunks I was using, and (c) too hard to replenish the smoking wood as it burned.  I knew I was going to get a fast hot smoke but it was hotter and faster (and shorter!) than I wanted.  In the end they only got about half an hour of good smoke and they roasted pretty thoroughly at the same time. 

    They are in the dehydrator now but their smokiness is pretty minimal.  They should still make a nice hot pepper powder, which I do use and purchase, so I'm not discontent with this experiment.  But I need to work on a more permanent, easy-to-feed colder-smoking solution.  It shouldn't take more than an afternoon to make a genuine smokehouse out of poles and scrap lumber, so that's probably what I'll do. 
     
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