Weekend project: Hot Pepper Ristras

Have extra Chili peppers? Make Pepper Ristras!

This year’s hot pepper harvest is overwhelming.  I use my peppers fresh and share with friends and family but I always have dozens of extra chilies that can be preserved. Non other preservation method is as creative and fun as making your own pepper ristras!

image source: Taos Unlimited

image source: Taos Unlimited

Ristras is a way of drying chili peppers. Red ripe chilies are tied to a string and hanged in the sun to dry. Later you can use them as a whole, make chili flakes or ground them for daily use. I plan to use these for my lentil soups, yogurt dips and chutneys beside other gravies and sauces.

Hot-Pepper-Ristras-(3)You can make a mix pepper ristras or make separate ristras for each type of chili that you grow keeping in mind their intensity of flavor and use. Remember, almost all peppers turn red when they ripe.  I started by picking all three of my chili peppers which includes 4 inch long green chilies, 2 inch long purple chilies and a shinny skinned 3 inch long green peppers. All of these turn red when ripe and have very different flavors when used fresh.

Hot-Pepper-Ristras-(6)Once you have selected and collected your chilies, start tying the tops on a string by making knots.

Hot-Pepper-Ristras-(4)You can make ristras as long as you want. When you have tied all of your chilies, bring both ends together and hang them on  a wall or where they will get direct sunlight for few weeks.

Hot-Pepper-Ristras-(5)Your chili pepper ristras are ready when all  chilies turn red and have wrinkled skin. I feel rewarded after doing this little DIY project, especially because all my harvest is organic which means, my store bought dry red chilies are no longer needed!

Go organic! Grow and  preserve your own chilies !

Happy Gardening


Zahra Ali Husain is a sustainability educator, freelance writer and an environmentalist. She is also a co-founder of Organic City Pakistan and runs the Green Schools & the Horticulture Therapy programs along with Yasir Husain. Zahra also manages an organic farm.