We grew some Anaheim Chili Peppers last summer in our backyard garden. My husband and I just adore Barbequed Chili Poppers and also Chili Relleno Casserole! If you would like to see recipes for those, please click HERE.
I also froze quite a few of the chilis for use during the winter after they had been fire-roasted and deseeded. You can see that process HERE.
Our pepper plants were so prolific, however, that I was able to save the last of the season chilis by dehydrating them in a Ristra. This is an ancient method of preserving just about any kind of pepper. By stringing them in a ristra, the peppers are exposed to more air flow, which helps them dry faster, preventing any mold from forming. By hanging the peppers, they are also less likely to be eaten by some critter, bug or (heaven forbid) curious child.
I strung my Ristra with dental floss and a sewing needle! The floss is strong, not readily absorbent (which helps with the mold issue) and yet is thin enough to hide behind the Ristra. I started out with about a two foot long piece, then added peppers to the end as I harvested them from the garden. Once the last pepper was strung and the excess floss was cut off…
♪♪♫♪♫ Ta-Da ♫♪♫♪♪ RISTRA
Many people use their Ristra as a decoration in the kitchen. They are particularly popular in the Southwest. I’m sure you have seen braided garlic and onions hung in a similar manner. They really are quite pretty and I hung mine on a side cabinet where it could easily be seen in my kitchen. I received quite a few compliments!
But, in my quest for self-sufficiency, this was not the end-product of my peppers. Nope! Though the Ristra was pretty, the dried peppers were destined to become red pepper flakes!
This is such an easy thing to do! Just unstring your Ristra, pull or cut off the dried green cap and stem, plop the dried pepper (seeds and all) into either your blender, food processor or coffee grinder, press the button and let the peppers whirl around about 15 to 30 seconds (you don’t want to completely pulverize them!) and you have red pepper flakes!
Fair warning: please let the flakes settle down in your blender/food processor/grinder before opening the lid because you will be SORRY if you get a snoot full of red pepper powder! Please don’t ask how I know about this!
Since I have started growing and drying my own herbs and spices, I have been collecting and/or buying containers for them. The container I put the red pepper flakes into is pretty large and I wouldn’t use such a large container for dried basil, oregano, etc., but we go through a lot of red pepper flakes! Have you ever had Arrabbitata Sauce before? Mmm…
You can go one step further with this process and absolutely pulverize the peppers into a powder, which (I think) is easiest to do in a coffee grinder. Then, you would have the basis for a homemade chili powder. There are a lot of different recipes out on the web for homemade chili powder, but I thought I would throw mine into the mix:
Perfect for a barbeque rub on a pork loin! Yum………
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