A few years ago my wife and I took a trip to southern Arizona and New Mexico. We visited friends in Tucson, then drove on our own to see places like Las Cruces and the White Sands National Monument. We also made a trip to Hatch, NM, which calls itself the chile capital of the world. We were there too early in the year to even see peppers growing, but we were able to buy some dried peppers and some tasty chile powder.
Even though I live many miles away from Hatch, I grow quite a few peppers here myself, and they find their way into a variety of dishes. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes and flavors, both sweet and hot kinds. Earlier this year I wrote about something I did for the first time, making Homemade Paprika. Today I want to talk about something I’ve done for quite a few years now, making Homemade Chile Powder.
The chile powder I make has only one ingredient: ground dried chiles. Most commercial chili powder you buy has extra ingredients like cumin, garlic powder and oregano. I don’t like to add them to my chile powder, which makes it more versatile in my opinion. That way you get the flavor of the peppers by itself, and if you want the other ingredients you can always add them to a dish too, and in the amounts and proportions that you like.
The growers in Hatch plant a number of varieties of New Mexico type peppers, as well as ancho, jalapeno and serrano types. I like to use a mix of mild to medium hot varieties for my chile powder, and my favorites are Anaheim, Biggie Chili, Ancho 211 and Holy Mole. Biggie Chili is a hybrid Anaheim type, and Holy Mole is a 2007 AAS winner that is a hybrid Pasilla type pepper. I’ve also grown Big Jim, College 64L, Numex Joe E. Parker and Numex Sunrise in years past. I usually let the peppers get ripe before drying them, but you can also make a great green chile powder from unripe green peppers.
Making chile powder is pretty much the same as making paprika. First, the peppers need to be thoroughly dried. I use a dehydrator, but if you live in a dry climate you can also hang the peppers to dry. I don’t recommend oven drying, as it is too easy to wind up cooking the peppers instead of just drying them. I set our dehydrator on 135°F, which is the setting for drying fruits. It generally takes one to two days to dry the peppers using the dehydrator, depending on the thickness of the walls of the peppers. I sometimes remove the seeds before drying the peppers, but you can leave them in if you like. Removing the seeds makes for a little darker color, and if you remove the inner membranes along with the seeds you will reduce the heat level too.
After the peppers are thoroughly dried, you can grind them by hand with a mortar and pestle, or use a spice grinder, food processor or blender. I use a Krups electric herb and coffee grinder, which in our house is dedicated to grinding herbs and spices. To remove any larger bits and pieces after grinding, I sift the powder through a fine-mesh strainer. You can also use it as it is, without sifting.
It’s fun to experiment with different varieties of peppers and make your own unique chile powders. Whether you grow your own like I do, or buy fresh or already dried peppers, homemade chile powder is easy to make and full of flavor. I hope you have enjoyed this article on how to make your own homemade chile powder, and I’ll be back soon with more gardening and cooking adventures from Happy Acres.
For more information on drying, growing and using peppers, check out these related articles:
I have a dedicated herb grinder too. I don’t grind up peppers anymore, but it sure come in handy for things like garlic, onions and coriander.
What a great idea to mix different varieties of chiles into the powder! I’ve got a bunch of dried peppers left from a couple years ago when I sampled a number of different Southwestern peppers from Native Seeds/SEARCH. I think I’ll mix up a batch using them. And I agree about not adding other seasonings, it’s much better to add them as desired or not.