As you saw yesterday, we received a bag full of dried red chilies as part of our CSA share. Sometimes we use them whole when we cook beans, but rarely for anything else. The reason? Whole chilies are difficult to deal with. Enter chili powder.
Now, we fully admit, there really isn’t much to making chili powder. It’s nothing more than chilies that have been ground into powder, but perhaps you’ve never thought of making it yourself. Maybe you could have picked up dried chilies at the farmers’ market super cheap, but you weren’t sure how you’d use them, so you passed them by. Next time you see them, you might just try some home-scratched chili powder, instead.
Makes one spice jar.
- 8 dried red chili pods
Chilies come in all different heat levels, partly depending on the variety, and partly on the growing conditions; since we get them in our share, we have very little control over how hot they are. You might be able to find dried chilies that suit your taste. Or, maybe you grow and dry your own. We would look for chilies that are grown naturally since anything sprayed on the peppers is going to end up in the chili powder, and thence into you!
Remove stems. Remove the stems from each chili. You can also shake out the seeds if you want, so that your chili powder will be milder. We don’t bother, we just use less.
Powderize. Place the chilies in a small spice grinder if you have one, or in the bowl of a food processor, or even a mortar and pestle, and grind, whirr, or pound.
Taste. Once you have a powder, you might want to taste it to get an idea of the heat level — just a grain or two at first; it might be really spicy — it wouldn’t be that much fun if you made a big batch of chili way too spicy because you didn’t know.
Package and label. Pour your newly ground chili powder into a small spice jar and label appropriately.
Clean up. This is important. You have chili powder on all your utensils and most likely, your fingers. Double wash everything is soapy water. This will remove the capsaicin from your implements, and, more importantly, from your hands. Trust us, you do not want to rub your eye inadvertently with the slightest trace of chili powder still present.
We generally make chili powder about once a year. It takes only a few minutes and we find that we use a pinch of powder here and there and before you know it, we have to grind some more. For us, the only downside is that sometimes the powder is really hot and we have no way to control the spiciness level except by trying to use less. For that reason, we give scratched chili powder four stars.