Jalapeño ristra

Like last year, we planted jalapeños in one of our raised vegetable beds. Since the summer of 2011 was less hot than normal, it took noticeably longer for the peppers to ripen. I like to leave them on the plant until they’re bright red because I prefer the rounder, fruitier taste of fully mature jalapeños to the far more pungent and far less complex taste of green peppers. However, with Christmas almost upon us and day-time temperatures rarely exceeding the 50s, there’s really no way the jalapeños will continue to ripen.

Jalapeños in a raised bed

On Sunday afternoon  I proceeded to pull out our lone jalapeño plant. After I cut off the roots, I tied the stalks together with twine and hung them under the roof of our front porch. Instant ristra!

Jalapeño ristra
Some peppers have already started to dry
Do you see the face?

After the peppers are dry, they can be ground into powder or rehydrated in soups or stews. If I had a smoker, I’d smoke the fresh peppers to make chipotles.

I also tried some other hot peppers this year. I started four types of chilhuacles, a rare Mexican pepper used in the famed Oaxacan black mole sauce, from seed. Unfortunately, all seedlings but one were destroyed by hail in mid-May; the remaining one didn’t flower until fall and never set fruit. I also bought two mulato plants, but they only produced a total of four peppers. I think 2011 simply wasn’t a good year for peppers, just like it was a lousy year for tomatoes. We do need a string of 100°F+ days in the summer for these sun-loving plants to do their best.


  1. I don't cook with a lot of hot peppers but I enjoy growing them. It's a shame my garden is rarely hot enough to give them they conditions they love. Nice shot of the pepper face, attention to detail!

  2. It's almost worth growing chillies just for decorative purposes alone, with the stalks tied together and hung to dry in the kitchen which adds 'warmth' to the atmosphere :)

  3. I learned this year that all (?) pepper plants are perennials. I brought a potted one in for the winter and will see what happens. I've always grown from seed every year.

  4. I think peppers are highly ornamental. In fact, the last time I was at Home Depot, I saw a pepper plant shaped like a Christmas tree, complete with tiny peppers in different colors, sold alongside traditional holiday plants like poinsettias.

    I received a ghost pepper in a trade earlier in the year and it never grew large enough to flower and fruit. I dug it up last week, potted it, and am keeping it inside for the winter. Curious to see if it will survive.

  5. I saw a smoker in a YS last weekend. Let me know and I will pick you up one when next seen!


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