Strands of dried chilli peppers, known as ristras, provide a burst of colour to southwestern decor, and are also a practical way to store dried chillies until you're ready to use them in soups, stews and, of course, chilli. Though you can string almost any pepper, the peppers in ristras are traditionally green chillies that have been allowed to ripen to a rich red. You can string chilli peppers when they're ripe and allow them to dry naturally. Chilli ristras also make a practical and attractive gift.
Pick up three chilli peppers and place them with their stems together. Wrap cotton string around the stems and knot. Bring the thread down between two of the three chillies, then back up and knot it again.
Continue to tie chillies together in bunches of three, leaving about four inches of string between each bunch. Wrap all the chillies in your bushel. Cut the string, leaving 4 inches at the end.
Cut a piece of twine approximately 2.5 feet long. Tie a peg to one end of the string. This keeps the chillies from slipping off the end of the twine. Tie the other end of the twine around a doorknob.
Wrap the set of three chillies on the end of the cotton string around the twine, just above the wooden peg. Wrap the string tightly around the twine. Arrange the chillies so that they wrap around the twine.
Continue to wrap the tied chilli peppers around the twine. Wrap the string tightly and push the chillies as close together on the twine as possible. They shrink slightly as they dry.
Hang your chilli ristra from a stout nail or hook on the wall and allow to dry. The undried ristra is heavy, so make sure your nail is in a stud. To use the peppers, snip one off with a pair of scissors.
Hang your chillies out of direct sunlight to avoid fading the bright red colour as they dry.
Tips and warnings
- Hang your chillies out of direct sunlight to avoid fading the bright red colour as they dry.