Ristras - a New Mexico thing
Ristras are arrangements of drying chile pepper pods.
Although their main purpose is to preserve chiles for later use, they are a commonly used decoration in New Mexico.
Hatch, New Mexico is famous for chili peppers
Hatch is the chili pepper capital of the world or some such. Whatever they grow a lot of peppers in this area.
Pepper connoisseurs consider Hatch chili peppers to be the best.
Ristra hanging outside the Old Time Trading Post at the Ice Cave and Bandera Crater
This ristra hanging outside the old trading post caught my eye. Ristras are strings of ripe, bright red, chili peppers.
New Mexicans have traditionally harvested and strung red chile peppers into colorful strings called ristras from mid-September until frost. The chile peppers are allowed to dry in New Mexico's warm sun. Then the ristras are stored--still on the ristra string--for use in various tantalizing food dishes during the winter.
Chile pepper ristras are made by selecting freshly picked, mature, red chile pods. You only want to use bright red peppers.
Red chile pods need to set for two or three days after picking. This allows the stems to lose some of their moisture. In the ristra tying process, stems often break if they are too fresh. Good ventilation is important in the drying process.
Colorful ristras are as much a part of New Mexico culture as sea food is to Florida. It seems that every respectable New Mexican displays at least one ristra.
Ristras on display in Old Town Albuquerque
Ristra on display on ladder outside gift shop near Sandia Peak
Mike & Joyce Hendrix
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