As much as I LOVE pickled jalapenos (escabeche), my favorite way to preserve chiles is to dry them. Crushed dried red chiles are super versatile: They can spice up Indian food, salsas, pickles, nearly anything. And if you dry enough of them, they'll last all year!
I picked up 2 bags of chiles at the farmer's market last weekend for about $7. Here's how to dry them as ristas:
- Rinse your chiles before doing anything- you won't be able to wash them after they are dry.
- Pat the chiles dry of surface moisture.
- Get a sewing needle and strong thread- I like carpet thread.
- Draw the needle and thread through the thick part of the stem on one chile- Then tie a knot so that the thread will stay securely in place- this is the bottom of your ristra.
- Continue to send your needle through the thickest part of the stem on your chiles, allowing them to stack up the thread.
- Continue until all chiles are strung. I like to end the ristra by tying the thread to a paper clip.
- Hook the paper clip to a curtain rod on a sunny window or another warm place with great ventilation.
- Let the chiles dry until crisp- then place in an air tight container.
- Check the chiles during the first 12 hours of storage- if any moisture appears inside the container, then the chiles aren't dry yet and you need to set them out in the air or an oven on the lowest temperature.