I really like the process of making your own spices for cooking.  I don't have a large spice and herb garden but it's certainly big enough to give me fresh herbs and a little extra to dry to use later.  Throughout the summer I keep plastic bags handy to add basil, oregano, thyme, mint, parsley, chives and other herbs as I get enough to dry.  It's usually an all summer process but considering the cost for old stale herbs in the store it's an effort that will pay for itself.

In addition to herbs you can also dry and grind other garden items like peppers.  (Really any vegetable).  I'm only growing one plant of jalapenos but they are always plentiful at the farmers marker so I buy a whole bunch all at once to make dried powder.  It's great for chilis and stews in the Winter.  I also like to use it as a pizza spice sometimes. The heat is a little more intense when dried which is why I like jalapenos since they are fairly mild to start with.  I am planning on doing this with other peppers as I get my hands on them as well.

The first step is simply to rinse and dry fresh peppers.

I'm using an inexpensive food dehydrator currently.  I have plans to build a solar dryer at some point soon to make use of a lot of direct sun in the backyard and quite hot days recently.

Cut the stems off, then slice in half. Leave the seeds right in there.  Place them on the dehydrator pans with room around them to circulate air.

Drying time over all is going to vary on the pepper but I have found that they can take a couple of days.  I like them crisp and no longer bendable and then place them in a bowl for a few hours to cool and further dry.  Some halves may take longer than others.

Simply grind the dried peppers to your desired texture.  A coffee grinder works well as does a Vitamix or even small food processor.  For peppers I like them a little more course than a fine powder but both work well.  This will keep up to a year.  Just store in a old spice or glass jar in the cabinet.

Mix with some garlic salt to make a ready to use topping to spice up dishes.

The process is really so simple that it already has me planning on different veggies next year like planting the right peppers to make paprika.  A smoker is already on my list as well to smoke salts and herbs to add even more flavor and depth.  This really is food preservation at it's simplest and a lot of fun!