how to make a chile ristra

A chile ristra is a beautiful and festive decoration. It's also a great way to dry chiles and use the spices in recipes. Chile ristras can be seen hanging throughout New Mexico and with a few supplies and time you can make your own following the steps below.

Chile Ristra Supplies

Supplies Needed:

  • Approximately 34 - 45 peppers, for a 1 1/2 foot long ristra.
    Pick mature red peppers that are firm and free of any defects or blemishes. Clean and dry them before assembling your chile ristra.
  • Twine
  • Wire
  • Scissors
  • Garlic bulbs (optional for decoration)
  • Corn husks, cut into strips (optional for decoration)

Step 1: Create Slip Knots

Create Slip Knots

Cut three separate stings of twine, three feet in length.

Create slip knots on each set of strings that is 5 inches apart—start at one end and continue until you have 5 slip knots.

How to Create Slip Knot:

  1. Make a loop
  2. Pull the twine from the left side
  3. Pull both ends until you have a knot

A slip knot is a simple knot that holds a lot of weight and is easy to undo by pulling one side.

Step 2: Create Base

Create Base

String three of your biggest peppers at the starting slip knot to create a base.

Step 3: Add More Peppers

Add More Peppers

Continue to add clusters of three peppers in each slip knot by pushing the stems through the loops of the slip knot and tighten.

Step 4: Create Skeleton

Create Skeleton

For the skeleton make a loop using twine four to five feet long.

Attach the top loop to something stable, like a plant hook hanging from the ceiling or an outside fence.

Step 5: Assemble Chile Ristra

Assemble Chile Ristra

To assemble the chile ristra, add one set of strings with peppers by taking the bottom bunch of peppers and placing them in between the loop of twine on your skeleton. The slip knotted peppers should hang freely.

Then drape the next bunch of peppers on top of the previous bunch.

To secure the peppers, you can use the string between the pepper bunches to wrap or tie around the skeleton.

Continue this process until all three sets of stringed peppers are secure.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Finishing Touches

If the peppers fall off, fill in gaps with more peppers until desired fullness is achieved.

Optional: Add garlic bulb(s) and corn husks to the top for decoration.

At the top of the ristra, create a loop with the string, so it can be hung.

Lastly, tidy up any loose strings by cutting the ends.

Step 7: Hang and Enjoy

Hang and Enjoy

Hang finished chile ristra in a location with good air flow in the sun or by a sunny window. Wait until peppers are fully dry.

During the drying process, make sure to remove any peppers that may start to rot to avoid affecting the rest. This can occur if there is not proper air flow.

Enjoy your dried chilies by using them in recipes!