Frequently Asked Questions About Mexican Dried Chiles
- What to do if there are bugs in your dried chiles?
Have you ever heard of or seen insects getting into dried chiles? It is true that dried peppers can harbor insects, but do not fear! This happens all the time, mostly with ristras that contain pupae from small moths that hatch and cause consternation. The best way to combat the little creatures is to freeze the dried chiles, store in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed jar or freezer bag.
- How to store dried chiles? Do dried chiles go bad?
Dried chiles should be used within 1 year of production. Store in a cool and dry area or in a very tightly sealed jar or freezer bag in the refrigerator. During the time the chiles stay in storage they will keep dry. They will change in color and texture, but they won’t lose their flavor.
- How to clean and use dried chile peppers?
Four Helpful Steps To Cleaning And Using Dried Chile Peppers: Whole dried chiles, ground chiles, chili-pods and chili flakes are used to flavor and add a kick to stews, soups, vegetables, pasta dishes, beans, curries, etc. The idea of drying the chiles is to preserve them so they will last for a longer time.
- With a damp cloth or under running cool water remove the dust and dirt from the chiles.
- Remove the stem if they are not going to be stuffed and remove the seeds and veins.
ROAST or TOAST:
- Using a dry pan gently roast for about 3-4 minutes making sure to turn frequently for even results. Do not scorch them. They will puff and somewhat reconstitute themselves. Your goal is to soften them if they are stiff and dry.
In order to use the dried peppers in most recipes, you need to rehydrate them by soaking the chiles in hot water. However you can add the chopped dried chiles directly without having to rehydrate into soups, stews, casseroles or meat mixtures because the long cooking will do the rehydrating for you.
- Soak in warm water for about 20 minutes. Save the soaking liquid as most recipes call for its use. It is commonly used to puree the softened chiles.
- Puree the softened chiles with the soaking liquid.
- Do not make the paste too smooth nor too thick. Remember that texture is very important in salsas.
- To puree your chiles, use a blender or food processor, using some of the soaking water you saved. If you want your puree to have a finer texture or you want to remove those stowaway seeds, press the puree through a strainer. This paste is often fried in oil with other ingredients to yield a final hot chile base.
- How to buy dried chiles?
The best dried chiles are the ones that have been sun-dried. These dried chiles should be clean and glossy, transparent and have retained their original bright colors. Look for unbroken pods and no signs of small insects. You should be able to slightly fold them. If the peppers break when you try folding them, it means they are old. When buying dried chile powders look for a singular bright color, if it is yellowish in color it usually indicates it has been ground with some of it's seeds, other spices or is old. Old powders are usually without much flavor and hotter than expected.
- Where to buy dried chiles?
You can find dried chiles in many national grocery stores. Look for them in the international/hispanic aisles or in the produce section where dried foods are displayed. Other options include your local farmers market and online. Ole Rico provides the best Mexican dried chiles imported directly from farms all over Mexico!