chiles for a ristra

Harvests, Storing Vegetables

chiles on a plate

I’m accumulating a lot of small red chiles this year. Time to figure out how to make a ristra. I see instructions at eHOW (eHOW ristra instructions link). They say a ristra is decorative, but its also a good way to dry chiles and keep them for fall and winter use.

A couple years ago I made a ristra with wire. It was hard to make and didn’t hold the chiles well. But they did dry and keep well. I used them all winter.

eHOW’s method uses string to tie chiles in bunches of three and then assemble into a loose hanging strand. Sounds like I can assemble the ones I have now and add more as they ripen. I hope to start one tomorrow.

My small red chiles are mostly a variety I call Amelia’s cayenne, which originated from seeds Amelia gave me 3 or 4 years ago and that I grow and collect seed from every year. They are very productive this year. I also have Thai hot and Nardello.

11 Comments. Leave new

  • I have plans for making a ristra as well from my peppers. I have anaheims and cayenne. I hope you post a picture when yours is completed.

  • The last time I tried to make something resembling a ristra, the cat found the string of chiles, and ate one!

  • Hi, Can you tell me what plants you save seed from and do you have to wory about cross pollination? I grew heirloom tomatoes, black sea man, red brandywine, and San marzano. I also grew Alma paprika peppers. I have never saved seed before any advice would be great. Thanks

  • Ha– I have a similar variety called Susan's Cayenne. They're seeds I got from Susan! Mine produced very well this year too, but not many yet ripe. In fact, so well, they could cause spontaneous combustion if they're all in the same place. These babies are hot!– Debbie, Concord

  • I confess to doing it weirdly. I just take a needle and thread. So I thread my chilies. It works for the cayennes that aren't too heavy. I also use a thicker beading thread so it won't break. It isn't quite as pretty as some, but it is quick and works.

  • I had a chili once, but it became dinner for one of my buggy friends.

    Hopefully, next time, mine can come out like yours. Where you were able to enjoy them.

  • South Indians hang chilli ristras at their entrance to ward of evil.

  • Has anyone tried digging up a chili plant at the end of the season and keeping it indoors as a potted plant over the winter? I heard somewhere that it is possible to do this – maybe on Mike McGrath's show on NPR. My chilis did better than anything else this year, so I'm kind of tempted.

  • I bet you could bring a small chile plant inside. I am seeing many great ornamental chiles these days that are meant to be grown potted and look very nice. Blue or yellow chiles, variegated foliage. I have trouble with the ornamental part though, why not grow a nice edible one!

    I might try this myself too with a Thai hot or cayenne plant or two. I think best to use a good sized pot and good potting soil so it doesn't dry out. The winter air gets so dry.

    Maybe they will ward off evil too!

  • Ristras are pretty, but in my experience, tricky to pull off, in MHO. Dry weather is key! I suggest another approach – cut the peppers in strips, dry in the sun as much as possible, and then dry in the oven on the lowest possible setting. The oven part in tricky because the dry peppers can burn in 2 min. I always experiment with a small batch first.
    All the best!

  • Thanks Svetla,

    I've moved my ristra into the airflow from the kitchen window after your advice. So far its drying well. It contains all thin walled varieties. Cayenne and Thai hot only. Its about twice the length now – my plants are still producing well. This week has been hot an humid, but cool dry air is forecast and will help the chile drying (though I much prefer the heat myself…).


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