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6.6.9 How do I smoke chiles?


This article is from the Food Preserving FAQ, by Eric Decker ericnospam@getcomputing.com with numerous contributions by others.

6.6.9 How do I smoke chiles?

Some recipes and techniques are available at the chile heads www site. Check
the Other Sources List for the URL.

From Garry Howard, , taken from the chile-heads

Americans who love the smoky taste and fiery bite of chipotles have recently
been hit with high prices and a scarcity of product. With prices for these
smoked jalapenos reaching $15 a pound wholesale, home growers yearn to smoke
their own. But the Mexicans have been fairly secretive about their techni-
ques, and none of the books on chiles describe home smoking. After a trip
to Delicos Mexico, I think I have solved this mystery -- but the process
takes some dedication. First, let's look at how the Mexicans do it.

They use a large pit with a rack to smoke-dry the jalepenos. The pit con-
taining the source of heat is underground, with a tunnel leading to the rack.
The pods are placed on top of the rack where drafts of air pull the smoke up
and over the pods. The jalapenos can be whole pods or pods without seeds.
The latter are more expensive and are called "capones", or castrated ones.

It is possible to make chipotle in the back yard with a meat smoker or Weber
type barbecue with a lid. The grill should be washed to remove any meat
particles because any odor in the barbecue will give the chile an undesir-
able flavor. Ideally, the smoker or barbecue should be new and dedicated
only to smoking chiles.

The quality of homemade chipotle will depend on the maturity and quality of
the pods, the moisture in the pods, the temperature of the smoke drying the
pods, and the amount of time the peppers are exposed to the smoke and heat.
The aroma of wood smoke will flavor the jalapenos, so carefully choose what
is burned. Branches from fruit trees, or other hardwoods such as hickory,
oak, and pecan, work superbly. Pecan is used extensively in parts of Mexico
and in southern New Mexico to flavor chipotle. Do not be afraid to experi-
ment with different woods.

The difference between the fresh weight of the fruits and the finished pro-
duct is about ten to one, so it takes ten pounds of fresh jalapenos to pro-
duce approximately one pound of chipotles. A pound of chipotles goes a long
way, as a single pod is usually enough to flavor a dish.

First, wash all the pods and discard any that have insect damage,
bruises, or are soft. Remove the stems from the pods before placing the
peppers in a single layer on the grill rack. Start two small fires on each side
of the grill with charcoal briquettes. Keep the fires small and never
directly expose the pods to the fire so they won't dry unevenly or burn. The
intention is to dry the pods slowly while flavoring them with smoke. Soak the
in water before placing it on the coals so the wood will burn slower and
create more smoke. The barbecue vents should be opened only partially to
allow a small amount of air to enter the barbecue, thus preventing the fires
from burning too fast and creating too much heat.

Check the pods and the fires hourly and move the pods around, always
keeping them away from the fires. It may take up to forty-eight hours to dry
the pods completely. The pods will be hard, light in weight, and brown in
color when dried. If necessary, let the fires burn through the night.
After the pods have dried, remove them from the grill and let them cool. To
preserve their flavor, place them in a zip-lock bag. It is best to store them
in a cool and dry location. If humidity is kept out of the bags, the
chipotles will last for twelve to twenty-four months.
Buen apetito!

NOTES : From the article: The Chipotle, Mystery -- Solved at Last!
by: Dr. Paul W. Bosland, Agronomy and Horticulture Department
New Mexico State University

Chile Pepper Magazine - October, 1992

MasterCook formatted by Garry Howard, Cambridge, MA

[And remember, you can smoke anything. Fruits, garlic, cheeses..

>From Paul Hinrichs :
... for anyone who thought I was losing my mind when I smoked garlic, let me
prove I was not the first. Here is the procedure given in the book for
smoking blueberries:

"Pacific coast Indians used to smoke-dry blueberries for winter use. They
may be successfully processed in an ordinary smoke oven.

Spread the blueberries on a fine wire screen and cold-smoke at 75 to 85 F,
[you guys in the heat are out of luck--LEB] until they are partly dehydrated.
The skins become wrinkled, and they look somewhat like dried currants. Keep
in a covered - though not airtight - jar or dish under refrigeration."
"The smoked berries make a very tasty dessert served with ice cream or sher-
bet." ...the same section also tells about smoked nuts, eggs, and garlic


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