Ristras are the traditional Mexican way of drying chilis and other peppers. They make a beautiful decorative piece, that doubles in functionality as they dry your favourite chilis.
We really enjoy our chiles de Arból dried because they make an easy spice to pop into soups and stews, adding flavour without as much burn as when you slice them fresh. Traditional Ristras, however, can be very finicky and hard to tie without a knowledge of knots and good hand coordination. So here's our lazy man's version so you can dry your chilis without worrying about how to tie a slipknot or how to wrap while holding peppers. All you need is some cotton string (preferably food grade- we use meat string) and some patience! Let's go!
1. Start by cutting your 3 pieces of string- 2 pieces at roughly 3 feet and 1 piece at 5 feet.
2. Take the 5 ft. long piece, fold it in half and tie the ends together. Set aside- you can hang it on a cabinet door or some other high place, because you will be using this piece to hang your chili strands later.
3. Take one of the chiles and tie the stem into a regular knot on one of the 3 ft. long strings. (See below)
What You'll Need:
4 packs of Kunahmul Organics Chiles de Arból
2 pieces of Cotton String cut to roughly 3 feet
1 piece of Cotton String cut to 5 feet
4. Create another loop for a second knot on top of the chili you just tied. Tie a second chili on top. You can continue to do this with a third if you wish, but we only tied two per bunch.
5. Keep tying pairs of chilis every 2-3 inches along the string until you have tied bunches along the entire piece. Do the same thing for the second 3 ft. piece of string.
6. Once you have your two chili strands ready, you can begin wrapping them on to the 5 ft. string.
7. Hang your 5 ft. string on the knob of high cupboard or a curtain rod- knot facing upwards and loop at the bottom.
8. Take the end of one of your pepper strands, and rest a pair of peppers on the loop on the bottom, tying the end of the string to the bottom of the loop.
9. Start wrapping each of the chili pairs around the 5 ft. string, periodically pulling some chilis through the loop (almost like braiding) to ensure a tight fit. Every time you wrap a pair of chilis, make sure to check that it is wrapped tightly to the bottom, by pushing the chilis down slightly.
10. Continue until the end of the string and tie a knot with the end on the 5 ft. string. Do the same steps for the second string. When you are done, you'll have a messy version of the traditional Ristra.
11. If peppers are falling or their stems break, not to worry! You can still dry these guys by placing them on a cooling rack and leaving them to dry just like that! We usually dry our peppers this way too because it really is effortless. They take between 1- 2 weeks to be perfectly dried. Store in an air tight mason jar to keep them for future recipes.
When you are finished drying, your chiles should transform into a rich maroon colour.
Make a Ristra to jazz up your home, to give a unique housewarming gift or just for yourself. Either way, have fun!