Dried Chili Peppers

Dried Chili Peppers

A popular way of preserving chilies. Drying changes not only the color, texture and flavor of chilies but sometimes even changes the name. Dried jalapenos are called chipotles and dried poblanos are known as ancho chilies. Dried chilies are most often used for making sauces. Little ones can be pureed whole while larger ones, such as ancho chilies, are usually toasted to bring out their flavor, then reconstituted in warm water. They are then pureed and strained before using.

  • To choose - look for dried chilies with an even color. Hold them in your hand and bend them gently. Dried chilies should be pliable, with no signs of cracking. Any light orange patches indicate that bugs got to the chilies before you did.

  • To clean - wipe off any dust with a damp cloth. For very dusty chilies with deep and hard-to-reach crags, rinse briefly under running water.

  • To seed and de-vein - use your hands or scissors, tear off the stem and then rip open the chili lengthwise. Loosen the seeds and shake them out. Tear out the light-colored veins.

  • To dice neatly - Using scissors, cut the seeded halves into strips. Snip across the strips into squares.

  • To toast - toasting dried chili peppers intensifies their rich flavors. Tear the chili into large, flat pieces and place in a skillet over medium heat. Press the chili pieces flat with a spatula for 5 to 10 seconds. Turn over and toast the other side 5 to 10 seconds, pressing flat. The chilies will soften and turn leathery, but remove them before they have a chance to blacken and burn.

  • To soak - place dried chilies (whole or pieces, toasted or un-toasted) in a bowl and add boiling water to cover. Let soften 15 to 20 minutes. Drain. The soaking liquid is often discarded because it can be bitter.

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