One of the great things about growing cayenne peppers is that you can use the pods fresh, or dry and grind them for later use. If you live in an arid climate like Arizona or New Mexico, the process for drying chilis is greatly accelerated – they can be prepared in just a few weeks. I live in Wisconsin, and here they take at least nine months.
To dry cayenne peppers, consider using a traditional Ristra. They are easily made; you can hang the peppers in a closet until they are ready for grinding.
To make the ristra, cut two pieces of butcher twine six feet in length. Fold each length in half so the ends are the same length. Then tie a simple half-hitch knot at the top to form a loop the size of a quarter. Then tie both segments together at the top to form another half-hitch knot. Fasten the peppers to each length of string (you will have four) by securing a half-hitch knot around the stem of the peppers. Tighten the string around the stem (I’ve found this works best when the string is damp so you can get a better grip) and keep the distance between each stem tight. The result, with a little practice, should look something like the photo below.
When the peppers are fully dry, break them off the stem and grind in your spice grinder. Carefully transfer the powder to a sealable storage jar. They will keep for up to a year before the flavor starts to fade. Take care not to inhale the powder! It is extremely hot. I prepare them at home when my wife and kids are out of the house so they are not bothered by the dust.