This week we had our first true freeze of the fall season. Fortunately, we were able to pick the last of the peppers before nature turned down the thermostat. That left us with a plethora of peppers to try to can, freeze, and dry. A great way to preserve your red jalapenos is to make your own Chipotle Peppers. It does take some patience, so plan to do this on a day when you have a full day to be ‘on call’.
A Chipotle pepper is a dry, smoked jalapeno pepper. They are most commonly made from red jalapenos. They are added to any dish that needs a smoky flavor with a little kick. Most of the natural ‘heat’ of the jalapeno is retained in the drying and smoking process.Typically it is about 5,000 to 10,000 Scoville Units. This is considered a “medium” heat in comparison to other chilies. Of course, you can take out the seeds and ribs of the jalapeno to make a milder version of the chipotle pepper. Typically the Chipotle is used to flavor soups, salsas, stews, sauces, and even an occasional dessert.
To make your own Chipotles, start with thoroughly washed Jalapeños, without bruises or surface cuts. They shouldn’t be too soft. Remove the stems and place them on the rack in your smoker or grill in a single layer.
Add pre-soaked wood for the smoke in small amounts. Fruit woods are best to use such as apple wood, however hickory, oak, and pecan (the Mexican traditional wood) works well also. Just keep the airflow low so that the fire doesn’t get too hot and then continue smoking until the peppers are complete dried. Some people use a dehydrator, which works, but your dehydrator will smell smoky for weeks.
So what do you do with all of your chipotle peppers? There are countless ways to use them, but here are some of our favorites…..
A few spice companies offer a chipotle powder. This is simply the dried whole chili, ground up into a fine powder. Use as you would any chili powder for a spicy, smoky flavor. We love our Krups Coffee Grinder which grinds the peppers down into the perfect consistency.
Chipotle in Adobo Sauce
Normally canned with a sauce made of spices, vinegar, tomato sauce and sometimes other chilies. You can use the chilies, the sauce, or both in common recipes.
Chipotle Chili Salt
The salt is a combination of chipotle chili powder and table salt. Use on meats or vegetables for a light smoky flavor.
Chilies are dehydrated and blended into a paste. Use the dip for chicken fingers, wraps and on veggies or chips.
We will get into more specific recipes on how to use your dried chipotle peppers in future posts. But as for now, concentrate on getting those leftover jalapenos put to use before they go bad.
Jim and Mary