Don’t get hot and bothered! Here’s a primer for buying and using these picante pantry staples.
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dried red hot peppers
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Good chiles will be pliant and smell mildly fruity—so, if possible, buy them loose and inspect 'em close up. If pre-bagged chiles are all you can find, look for ones that are deeply colored, not powdery, and free of cracks.

Store

Stored in an airtight container in the pantry or freezer, dried chiles can last almost indefinitely—though for the best flavor, try to use them within six months. Before cooking, clean by wiping with a damp cloth.

Cook

Toast dried chiles in a hot pan and grind into a powder for seasoning, or steep them in hot water to rehydrate, then puree for sauces and more. Just remember: Wash your hands before touching any sensitive parts!

This article originally appeared in our Winter/Spring 2022 issue. Get the magazine here.