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How to make Ristras – Chili Pepper Strings

How To Make Ristras – Chili Pepper Strings

Ristras are traditional way to dry chili peppers for later use. The ristras that are available in farms stands in the American southwest can be up to 5 feet in length. Many households do not need that many peppers. These small ristras are simpler and smaller versions of the larger mesoamerican chili pepper strings.

These ristras are small enough to use as decorations and yet they retain their functionality. If you cannot resist the temptation to pull out a pepper for culinary or medicinal use, be sure to tighten the knot holding the pepper clump that you snitched from. You don’t want to lose them all. Remember to keep your ristra out of direct sun light to preserve the deep red color of the chilies.

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  • Cayenne peppers with stems attachedRistra Supplies
  • Scissors
  • String
  • Corn husks
  • Water in a bowl


  1. Soak the corn husks in water about 10 minutes before starting the project.
  2. Gather an odd number (3 or 5) of peppers by their stem.
  3. Cut 24 inches of string.
  4. Tie the stems tightly together with the string and the end of the strand.
  5. Make a loop as if you are going to make another knot a few inches higher on the string.
  6. Tie an odd number of peppers by their stem to the string and tighten knot securely.
  7. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until the ristra is the length you want it to be.
  8. Make a loop with the remaining string which is big enough to hang on a branch tip.
  9. Tie the loop securely.
  10. Cover the floss which secures the stems with a long and thin corn husk strand. Make a secure knot in the front.
  11. Tie a few corn husks over the center of the knot with the thin corn husk.
  12. Snip the ends of the corn husks so they are evenly about 2 or 3 inches from the knot.
  13. Tie more corn husks onto the ristra at even intervals.
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For More Information on Chili Pepper

Chili-Folio-3D-Cover-noshadow-432For more information on Chili Pepper, purchase a copy of The Practical Herbalist’s Herbal Folio: Chili Pepper: Naturally Hot Herbal Medicine. This Herbal Folio contains expanded information, including:

  • Gardening and Gathering
  • Animal Husbandry
  • Household Formulas
  • History, Folklore, Myth, and Magic
  • Cautions
  • Recipes
  • Quick Facts
  • References

Proceeds from sales of The Practical Herbalist’s Herbal Folio series go toward supporting The Practical Herbalist website. Support this terrific reference site by buying your copy of Chili Pepper: Naturally Hot Herbal Medicine today.

Listen to the Podcast at Real Herbalism Radio or subscribe in Itunes.

Sue Sierralupe

Sue Sierralupé is a Certified Master Herbalist, Master Gardener and Sustainable Landscape Specialist. She is the clinic manager and lead herbalist at Occupy Medical clinic. Sue is author of The Pocket Herbal: Medicinal Plants that Changed the World and co-author of The Practical Herbalist Herbal Folios series. Follow her blog at Herbalism Manifesto for commentary on herbs, parenting, nutrition and a whole lot more.

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