British Bred Chipotles (smoked Dried Chillies)




My partner this year decided that she was going to grow chilli plants and so I was despatched to the shops to buy the seeds she needed. I later returned triumphantly from a successful hunter gathering mission with a small grow bag containing some compost and ten jalapeno chilli seeds. Dawn (my partner) then set to work growing the plants...she lovingly tended them...and they grew......they grew some more....they grew even more.....they took over every windowsill in our house.......they started to block out the light coming through our windows and in the end they bore chillies...lots of many chillies we wondered what we could do with them all, we ate some of course, we made lots of chilli jam, we stuffed as many as we could into the freezer but we still had more. We researched how to air dry chillies, which in a dry climate would have been ideal but the sad fact is that we live in the (mainly damp) u.k. and jalapenos have a thick skin which means that they tend to not dry very well at all. So it was back to the research. A little later I had the answer, I had read about how in mexico they dry the chillies in smoke to flavour and preserve them...We had a smoker....our chillies were saved....or so we thought.
Fire up the smoker, place the chillies in, smoke till dryish......they tasted awful. I wasn't going to be beaten though, we would have chipotles even if i had to invent a new method of making them, and so i did, here it is...

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Step 1: Ingrediants

You will need.

Chillies (I've only used red as i believe the green ones turn black when dried)
Equal quantities of salt and sugar (the amount you need depends on the amount of chillies you have)

Here I'm using golden caster sugar and fine grain sea salt you will need enough of it to be able to bury your chillies in it (skip forward a few steps, you'll see what i mean).

Step 2: Tools

You will need..

A tray or shallow dish
Chopping board
Smoker (here I'm using a fish smoker)
wood chippings (or whatever your smoker uses to create smoke)

On the subject of smoke chips, differing woods produce different flavours, here after seeing a well known British chef do it on the T.V. I'm trying out wood chip pet bedding but after sampling the taste of the smoked food produced I'd advise against it for this recipe and stick with the oak chips I used for my first batch.

Step 3: Tools I Forgot in the Last Step..

Don't do as I almost did and forget these..

Something to drain the chillies in ( A big sieve works well)
Some kitchen roll

Step 4: Wash, Cut and Deseed

Wash your chillies then cut the stalk end off, slice them in half length ways and get rid of as many seeds as possible, oh and make sure you wash your hands after wards.

Step 5: Rack Em Up.

Place the chilli halves skin side up on your smokers rack. We want the smoke to be able to easily penetrate the fleshy parts of the chillies.

Step 6: Smokin'

Place the chillies in your smoker and smoke according to taste. The next step brings out more of the smokey flavour so it's better to slightly under smoke rather than over smoke. Using oak chips with my first batch I smoked them for around 30 minutes or until they just started to get a smokey residue stuck to the skins.

Step 7: Cure

Put enough sugar and salt to cover the chillies onto your tray and mix together well.

Step 8: Bury

Place the chillies fleshy side down on the salt and cover them over, then leave them somewhere overnight and take a break.

Step 9: The Next Day.

After leaving your chillies overnight you will end up with this soggy looking mess of salt, sugar and chillies do not panic this is what we want. The salt and sugar has drawn a lot of the moisture from the chillies and also greatly condensed the flavour.....just smell that smokey chilli goodness MMMmmm.
O.K time to get digging, release those chillies from their salty tomb, if everythings gone well your chillies will look like wrinkly prunes.

Step 10: Rinse and Dry

Give the chillies a quick rinse under some running water to get the last of the salt and sugar off, don't rinse for too long though as you want to keep the chillies as dry as possible. When you've got as much salt off as you can (a little bit left doesn't matter) place them on some kitchen paper and blot as dry as you can.

Step 11: Dry

Place the chillies fleshy side down on a baking tray and place in an oven turned down to the absolute lowest setting it will go to, Leave the door of the oven slightly open and check your chillies every so often (30 minute intervals works well for me)
Dry the chillies till they are leathery or if you want to crush them to make chilli powder dry till crisp, it shouldn't take longer than a couple of hours at the most.

Step 12: Finished

Store your chipotles in an airtight jar with a little sprinkle of salt in the bottom.

The chipotles have a lovely smokey sweet chilli taste to them and smell amazing, keep the jar in a cupboard and use them wherever you want to pep up a recipe, hope you enjoyed this instructable.
all comments good or bad gratefully received.

Dawn found a great recipe for chilli jam and adapted it to her tastes, she used some of these very chipotles in it, you can find the recipe here....

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    13 Discussions


    6 years ago on Step 4

    WHAT!!!!!!! you are no hot head you phoney.... the seeds make the pepper or else you just have a bell pepper...... lol


    7 years ago on Introduction

    AndyGadget: The slug problem is an easy fix. Bury some teacups in your garden, with the rim open. Pour in an inch or so of beer. The slugs are attracted to beer. They will be drawn to the edge of the rim, fall in and literally drown. This works for both snails and slugs. A natural cure for your problem. I've used it for years and it really works. dokhack: so glad to find your idea. I've planted a plethora of chile plants, and will look forward to turning some of the jalapenos into the lovely chipotles.

    You could try drying them the way I dry mushrooms. I simply place them on the back of my CRT monitor. The back is nothing but a grid of vent holes with a steady supply of warm dry air. After a few days they are bone dry - so dry that in fact if you try to bend them they snap in two. Try this with the peppers if you have a CRT monitor. I would think that cutting them in half the long way and putting the cut side down would also help the drying.

    2 replies

    I have preserved mushrooms for later use. The method I use depends on the species. Meaty mushrooms like Boletus Edulis or Pleurotis Pulmonatis can be dried by spreading them on screens stapled to frames and left where the (dry) air can circulate around them. Other mushrooms such as the Cantharellus Cibarius or the Coprinus Comatus require precooking before they can be preserved. Especially the latter, since if just left in a bag for a few hours (personal experience) the shaggy manes will turn into a black goo. Mushroom identification books contain the best instructions on the matter.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Drying on the back of a monitor sounds like a great idea to reuse wasted heat and once the curing process has broken down the tough jalapeno skins somewhat I really can't see any really why this wouldn't be a viable option for the drying stage for smaller quantities.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Why the sugar? I grew a number of jalapeno plants again this yr but all the peppers were tiny (under an inch long) They were still plenty tasty though. By accident or at least not by design I left a number of peppers on a wicker paper plate holder over the condiment box on my counter, to my surprise they dried in 2 days ! So ive been picking and setting peppers on the wicker plates and now have 2 big bags of dried jalapenos !

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    The sugar is there to balance the flavour, the end result is a sweet smokey taste that I'm not sure would be achieved by curing in salt alone. To be honest I did consider just curing in salt but was a little worried that I'd have ended up with salty chillies which would have been great for cooking with but I also wanted something that could be grated over the top of a salad or eaten as is. Has the just salt cure affected the taste of your chillies at all?


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Smoking the chillies on a stove top in a pot as you suggest will also work, you just need a wire rack a little bit above the wood chips and some kind of sealed lid to contain the smoke in the cooking pot.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Those certainly look the part! The wrinkly skins look just like bag of chipotles I bought from Sainsbury's lo these many moons past. How does the curing affect the flavour? Could you cure without smoking first?

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Hi thanks for the feedback, I'm really happy with how they turned out. The curing process as well as drawing out a lot of moisture really condenses the flavour of both the chillies and the smoke, it doesn't require the smoking process at all and should have the same effect if the chillies were unsmoked.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    That's a good crop considering the summer we've had. I've always assumed that growing things inside would stop enough insects getting to them for pollination but it appears to have worked for you. I've never known what chipotles were until now. My first batch of chillis was brutally savaged by slugs and my second batch isn't going to ripen with the nights drawing in, so maybe next year . . .

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry to hear about your slug problem, we have a walled garden and have the same problems with slugs and snails eating everything they can get to. The pollination side of things was taken care of by my loving girlfriend Dawn, with the aid of a small makeup brush she sexed up every single flower she could find. Hope you get a better crop next year and thank you for the comment :)