One of our chilli plants went a bit berzerk and gave us over 30 ripe chillies within 2 days. As we don’t eat huge amount of chilli I wanted to preserve them. If we buy a pack from the supermarket I normally freeze the leftovers and use them frozen as and when I need them. The chillies from our plant were only about 3cm tall so I dried them out instead. I looked into oven drying but read that the best way to preserve their flavour (and heat) is to string them up and air dry – also known as a Chile Ristra.
Sadly these are not mine. I got to a point and realised I didn’t have nearly enough to make a half decent looking Ristra and I couldn’t get the hang of the braiding. I managed to find a good tutorial for making them with a needle and thread, which involved threading the chillies onto string by inserting a needle into the stalk at 45 degrees. This worked like a charm for a smaller amount of chillies.
I let the chillies air dry for about 5 weeks. Once ready they were shrivelled, hard, deep red and sounded like a maraca when shaken.
I was unsure about using a food processor to cut them up because I didn’t want to release a plume of burning chilli vapour into the flat. So I cut them up by hand and tried to make sure I didn’t get any in my eyes or on my skin.
I put greaseproof paper over the wood chopping board to make sure everything we eat for next month isn’t spicy (I’ve made this mistake with garlic in the past). I also put on gloves and tried not to touch my face, although I somehow managed to get chilli vapour all over my lips :(
I only kept a small amount of seeds because I’m a wimp.
They smell rich and slightly smokey now they’ve been dried. Despite removing many of the seeds they still pack a punch!