- 3/4 to 1 bushel fresh red chile peppers*
cotton string, cut in 5-foot lengths
- 1 coat hanger (untwisted)
or bailing wire or twine
* Do not use any peppers
with bad spots.
- Begin by tying clusters of three
chiles on the lightweight string. To tie the clusters, hold
three chiles by their stems and wrap the string around the
stems twice. Bring the string upward between two of the
chiles and pull tight cutting into the stems slightly. Loop
the string around your hand and turn it so that you place
the loop over the ends of the chile stems and the free end
is beneath the string attached to the cluster (half-hitch).
- Continue making clusters about every
three inches on the string. Several 5 foot lengths of string
will be easier to work with than one long piece. Continue
until all the chile peppers have been used.
the wire or coat hanger from a nail in a rafter or a door
knob or some other convenient place. Make a loop in the
free end of the wire to prevent the clusters from slipping
off. Some people use a wooden dowel at the end to keep the
chiles in place.
- Starting with the first three chiles
on the end of one string, braid the chiles around the wire.
Place the cluster so that the chiles are on one side of
the wire and the string holding the stems together is on
the other, and twist two of the chiles in a braid. The process
is similar to braiding a child's hair - the wire serves
as one strand and two of the chile stems in the cluster
serve as the other two.
- As the chile clusters are
braided onto the wire, push them down in the center to ensure
a tight wrap. Position the chiles in different directions
on the wire for a balanced look. If this is not done, empty
spaces may develop along one side of the ristra. Continue
braiding until all the chiles have been used. Any excess
string between the clusters will be hidden inside the ristra.
- You may add a finishing touch with corn husks or ribbon.
- Hang the ristra outside in full sun on a clothesline
or an outdoor rafter to dry. If you do not do this, the
chiles will turn moldy and rot. They will lose most of their
weight during the drying process.
- Your new ristra
can now be hung indoors or outdoors as a decoration. The
dried chile peppers can be broken off and used in cooking.
Do not spray the chiles with lacquer or any similar spray
that will give it a shiny, unnatural sheen. This will make
it look artificial and make it unfit for use as a food.
Dry chile peppers have a natural luster without any from