Red hot chilli preppers! Mounds of dried chillies turn fields red during harvest season at huge Chinese farm

  • Aerial images show labourers harvesting crop in Kuqa, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, north-west China
  • The peppers are harvested around August to October before being shipped to market once they have dried
  • Drying chillies is a classic way to preserve the hot pepper’s flavour before it passes its prime 
  • Drying also helps farmers to sell chilli as it can be crushed, divided and sent to markets around the country

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Surrounded by a vast crimson landscape, these farmers are harvesting dried red chillies in China.

Astonishing aerial images show the labourers among the peppers on Wednesday in Kuqa, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in the north-west of the country.

The farmers plant the chillies after picking their garlic crops around May. The peppers are harvested around August to October before being shipped to market once they have dried.

The workers are spurred on by the hope of big returns and growing demand for use in dishes, particularly from Sichuan and Hunan – but most of the profits go to traders and investors, rather than farmers. 

Farmers harvest dried chilli peppers in Kuqa, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in north-west China, on Wednesday

Farmers harvest dried chilli peppers in Kuqa, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in north-west China, on Wednesday

The farmers plant the chillies after picking their garlic crops around May. The peppers are then harvested around August to October before being shipped to market once they have dried

The farmers plant the chillies after picking their garlic crops around May. The peppers are then harvested around August to October before being shipped to market once they have dried

The workers are spurred on by the hope of big returns and growing demand for use in dishes, particularly from Sichuan and Hunan - but most of the profits go to traders and investors, rather than farmers

The workers are spurred on by the hope of big returns and growing demand for use in dishes, particularly from Sichuan and Hunan – but most of the profits go to traders and investors, rather than farmers

A mechanical harvester can reap five to eight hectares of chillies, or 160 to 240 tonnes of chillies, a day. Without machinery however, it takes around 400 people and 12 times the money to finish the same amount of work

A mechanical harvester can reap five to eight hectares of chillies, or 160 to 240 tonnes of chillies, a day. Without machinery however, it takes around 400 people and 12 times the money to finish the same amount of work

The peppers are raked in their millions into large sacks and carted to the markets for locals and tourists.

A mechanical harvester can reap five to eight hectares of chillies, or 160 to 240 tonnes of chillies, a day. 

Without machinery however, it takes around 400 people and 12 times the money to finish the same amount of work, according to Xinhuanet

Drying chillies is a classic way to preserve the hot pepper’s flavour before it passes its prime.

It is also an ideal way for farmers to sell their produce as it can be crushed, divided, and sent to markets around the region or the country.

Drying chillies is a classic way to preserve the hot pepper's flavour before it passes its prime. The total annual global production of all pepper varieties (capsicum and pimenta) is estimated at around 34million tonnes

Drying chillies is a classic way to preserve the hot pepper’s flavour before it passes its prime. The total annual global production of all pepper varieties (capsicum and pimenta) is estimated at around 34million tonnes

Drying is also an ideal way for farmers to sell their produce as it can be crushed, divided, and sent to markets around the region or the country

Drying is also an ideal way for farmers to sell their produce as it can be crushed, divided, and sent to markets around the region or the country

The peppers are raked in their millions into large sacks (seen above) and carted to the markets for locals and tourists

The peppers are raked in their millions into large sacks (seen above) and carted to the markets for locals and tourists

Signature dishes include spicy kebabs, hot soups and stir fries. Dried chilli peppers are popular in India too, while Latin America and the US also have a large production, with many different varieties

Signature dishes include spicy kebabs, hot soups and stir fries. Dried chilli peppers are popular in India too, while Latin America and the US also have a large production, with many different varieties

And once bought, the chilli peppers and red pepper flakes produced are the foundation of most food in the country’s north western Xinjiang region. Signature dishes include spicy kebabs, hot soups and stir fries.

Dried chilli peppers are popular in India too, while Latin America and the US also have a large production, with many different varieties. 

In Europe, Spain is the largest producer of the chillies, mostly the long type ‘Spanish pepper’.

Since getting a taste for exotic foods, Brits are starting to attempt amateur chilli drying in ovens and gardens – weather-depending. Most online tutorials tout outdoor-dried peppers as the ultimate delicacy.

The total annual global production of all pepper varieties (capsicum and pimenta) is estimated at around 34million tonnes.  

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