All about chile ristras

I get asked a lot of questions about chile ristras, ranging from “How long do ristras last?’ to “How to take care of chile ristras?” This made me think that many people will probably be wondering about it online too. Because of that, I decided to make a quick FAQ with my answers and recommendations on it. If you have questions about the beautiful strings of dried New Mexico chile known as chile ristras, read on adventurer.

How long do ristras last?

The answer depends on many factors. An untreated ristra kept in good conditions will last 2 or 3 years and still look good. A treated one might last 5-10 years. If it is kept in unfavorable conditions, it will break down sooner.

What is the best way to store a ristra?

A ristra should be kept hanging, away from wind that will cause it to hit hard surfaces. The sun won’t damage sandia chiles as much as pequin, but will cause fading over time as well. If you want a ristra to last as long as possible, keep it in a cool, dark place without wind. If you want to display it outside, keep it in a partial sunlight area that is not windy.

How spicy are ristras?

The traditional New Mexican ristras are made with sandia chile, which is typically considered a “hot” chile. Pequin ristras however are much more spicy. If you want to cook with them, be very careful with the amount you use.

Are ristras edible?

Every ristra that we sell at Farmers Chile Market is untreated, and therefore edible. Even if you have the chile after 2 or 3 years, it will still be delicious.

How to cook with ristras?

Red chile sauces are incredibly easy to make. All one needs to do is take out the stem and seeds from chile on the ristra, blend it up for about 10 minutes with some garlic powder and onion powder, then boil it with a chicken or vegetable stock. Altogether, the whole process takes less than an hour, and you can make a red chile sauce which will last a year or more in the freezer.

How to use chile on ristra?

Take the chile from the bottom of the ristra, then tuck the string up into the remaining chile. This lets you keep the ristra beautiful while also able to eat the delicious red chile from your ristra.

How to make chile ristras?

It is a process of tying chile stems together with twine. Check back later this year, as we will have more content about this subject available during chile season.

What chile are ristras made with?

Most ristras in New Mexico are made with sandia chile, though many special shaped ristras are made with pequin as well.

How can I travel with a ristra?

If you want to travel with a ristra, it is best to get one that is not totally fresh, but also not completely dry. This is because fresh ristras might rot, and dry ristras are more prone to breakage. Second, it is best not to lay it down for too long, as the ristra may become deformed. If you can rotate it, this problem will be less serious. If you are taking it on an airplane, I recommend wrapping it in something breathable and soft, so it can’t be jostled around too easily, and still has some ability for airflow. When driving, I recommend hanging it on a hook, provided it does not bang against the windows. If you don’t have hooks, I recommend just laying it flat as straight as possible, and turn it every few hours to prevent it becoming deformed.

Where are your ristras from?

All our ristras come from Hatch, New Mexico.

Where is the best place to get chile ristras in Albuquerque?

Farmers Chile Market of course.

Why don’t ristras use green chile?

Most green chile varieties turn to a yellowish brown color when they dry. In some multicolored ristras, this is not bad, as it provides more color variety. That being said, it looks unappealing compared to red chile ristras.

When are ristras available?

Generally ristras are available once Hatch chile has had a time to mature and turn red. This typically happens about a month after chile season begins. New Mexico becomes usually awash in fresh ristras around the start of September.

Where do you hang ristras?

Hang them in a place which isn’t too windy, so the chile doesn’t get damaged. Partial sunlight is best to avoid fading, but red chile ristras kept in the sun will still continue looking good for a long time.

Can you eat chile ristras?

You can eat Farmers Chile Market ristras once they are dry. Some sellers will treat the ristras with inedible materials to make them look fresh for longer.

What kind of chile is in ristras?

Typically ristras are made with sandia chile, a hot New Mexico chile which dries very well.

How long do red chile pods last?

If they are stored well, with cool temperatures and low humidity, chile pods keep a good flavor for a few years.

Do you ship chile ristras?

We will begin shipping chile ristras throughout the continental United States beginning in September, 2022.

When are fresh red chile ristras ready?

Once the chile has had enough time to ripen to red, chile ristras will arrive within days. When fresh chile ristras come in depends a lot on the chile season, as some years chie matures faster than others. That being said, they are typically ready by early September.