Crushed red pepper flakes are a seasoning made from hot red peppers that are dried and crushed. You can use them as an ingredient in a recipe or as a condiment added to foods, such as pizza or pasta. Crushed red pepper flakes are generally made up of different types of chili peppers, including cayenne, ancho and bell. They usually also contain a large amount of pepper seeds, which make them a particularly spicy addition to foods. If you have extra chili peppers around the kitchen, try using them to make your own crushed red pepper flakes.
Put on protective gloves before you start working with peppers. Handling fresh or dry hot peppers can burn your skin.
Gather the chili peppers together that you intend to use. Try to incorporate a mix of mild and hot peppers, such as bell peppers and cayenne peppers. Use more hot peppers if you want the pepper flakes to be very spicy; use more mild peppers for moderately spicy flakes.
Dry the chili peppers by putting them in a food dehydrator. You can also thread them with a large needle onto string and hang them up in a dry or sunny area outside or inside your home. Alternatively, place them in a single layer on a plate in a hot, dry area of your home or lay them on a baking sheet and place it in direct sunlight outdoors. Unless you use a food dehydrator, the drying time for peppers ranges from one to two weeks.
Check the peppers as they are drying. Collect them when they are uniformly dry, with no signs of soft flesh or moisture. They should be slightly brittle with a tough skin, but not crumbling or rock-hard.
Remove the stems from the dried peppers and place them in a food processor, spice grinder or coffee grinder. Grind the peppers until they become flakes and seeds at your desired size and consistency. Take care not to over-grind the peppers into a powder.
Pour the crushed red pepper flakes into a spice container and label the contents with a pen or marker. Use an airtight plastic container or resealable plastic bag if you don’t have a spice container.
To prevent burns and irritation, don’t rub your bare skin, face or eyes while working with hot chili peppers. If your skin is exposed to the peppers, wash with warm, soapy water.
Beware of any chili dust in the air when you’re grinding dried hot chili peppers -- this dust may irritate your throat and eyes.