Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ristras! - August 24, 2010


Have you seen those gorgeous dried pepper bunches, in intense red colors anywhere before?

Well, these are not them.

These are semi-gorgeous ones.

Last year I learned to braid onions and this year I attempted to make ristras. Of all the plants we grew this year, of course the peppers are producing the most. I have the hardest time letting anything go to waste, which is why I was eating about 2 melons a day for a few weeks.

Well I've got peppers coming out of my ears. You can only use so many of them.

Bell peppers

Anaheim peppers

Sweet bananas

Hot bananas

I apparently forgot to give the Jalapenos their 15 minutes of fame. And I really miss having the beautiful purple peppers I had last year. Those were the loveliest peppers and blossoms!

I also had rafia. Even better than string!

Here's how I did it.

I first pulled out a rafia string and doubled it for stringth. Get it? String-th? Pretty clever, eh?

Get three peppers in a bunch, with stems long enough so that the spicy buggers don't whisper peppery little insults to one another in Spanish about you as you attempt to lasso them.

With a little tail of rafia, so you have pretty raffia tails all through the ristra, wrap the stems tightly two or three times.

Then take the longer, looped end and go down, between two peppers and back up again.

Pull snugly, and you have your first three strung up.

Get three more peppers.

Do the same thing to them, with the long end of the string, maybe about an inch higher.

Draw that string down again to bring the string back up through two peppers. Or one, depending on how you look at it. I never did figure that part out, but you eventually get the hang of it and it doesn't seem to matter whether you know if it's one or two or not.

Pull it up snugly and you've got your second tier.

I kept tying on extra strings as I went up. On later models, and there have been a lot of them, I took to tying all my strings together before I began, making sure to leave each joint with about 5 inches of rafia string on each side of the knot, just to be all pretty and everything.

This is my first one. I later decided that I liked doing about 36 peppers per ristra, or twelve sets of three on each.

And after I'd done three of them, I hung them together, braiding the top of the strings. I am trying to decide if you are supposed to braid the part of them that actually have peppers on them, but I've been so busy with this first stage that I haven't bothered with that yet.

I currently have about 20 of these hanging around my kitchen. Some are on the pantry door, some on my baker's rack and some on dining room chairs. And the peppers are still coming!

I want to let the rest turn red on the plants before bringing them in. I hope they don't rot first. But they are a bit heavy to do while still green, and that makes them a bit more awkward to string up. These are slowly turning red, but I don't think they are as pretty as when they redden on the plant.

By the way - rotten peppers smell really bad. Just so you know.




  1. I wish I had enough peppers to do that! It is so autumnal!!! I only got a handful this year, and I think I have used them up in salsa.:(

  2. How odd that you only got a few. What went on with your pepper patch?



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