Friday, December 10, 2010

There's no smell like roasted chiles for the holidays...

Chiles are forgiving. I found that out yesterday when I tried to resuscitate some partially-dried chile peppers that I had grown in my garden plot at Clifton Park (note to self: check on the herbs and whatnot you still have growing there). I had tried to dry them out in the oven but got exasperated when I had to stop and come back to it another day. I never came back to it, so those half-dried chiles were sitting wilted in a covered dish in my refrigerator for a week or two. They weren't exactly dry anymore. But only one or two had to be thrown out; the rest were doing alright. So I had a go at finishing the process.

This time, like last, I spread the chiles out on a cookie sheet, no oil or anything. This time I took the rest of the chiles I had gathered since then (I also grabbed a few to freeze instead of dry), and spread them out on the same baking sheet. Yes, I knew they wouldn't all dry at the same time. This time, I correctly started drying them: I turned down the oven as low as possible, about 150°F, and placed a dish towel in the door to keep it slightly wedged open. Mr. Freak-Out here had worried at first that the towel might catch fire, but I realized that was highly unlikely. Several hours later, with the lovely smell of homegrown chile peppers permeating the house (seems like New Mexico), some of the first chiles had finally dried out altogether.

This is often a multi-day process, especially if some of your chile peppers are not super-thin. So over the next few days I will continue to dry out these chiles for use throughout the winter and spring.