Cooking · Food & Drink · Gardening · Kitchen garden

Making ristras…

This week I found myself surrounded by chilli plants and wanting to do something with them.

Like a concerned mum, I had brought them inside from the greenhouse over winter so the frosts didn’t ruin the fruit.

…glorious home-grown chillis

But in the house they seem to be lurking round every corner. I use a lot of hot chillis when cooking but even I can’t get through them quickly enough.

Enthusuastically I had planted about 20 chilli seeds in the spring thinking that only a handful would produce plants – in reality about ten did, which was great at the time.

…hot hot hot

Now, I find myself with a glut of them. In the past I have picked them and placed them in trays to dry with varying success – a lot have gone mouldy.

This year I decided I would create ristras with the surplus chillis – strings of chillis which are hung to air dry.

And it was much more straight forward than I thought. You just sew each chilli onto thread (through the stem) and hang – easy!

…a ripening ristra

Not only will they (hopefully) dry much better they also look great hanging in the kitchen.

What I love about growing chilli plants from seed – and all fruit and veg – is that you can pick up a pack of seeds for a couple of pounds and grow as many as you like. It’s cost efficieint but is also super satisfying to see such tiny things grow to grand, fruit-laden plants.

Over Christmas I received lots of plant catalogues through the post so this week I’ll settle down with them and a cup of tea to decide what seeds I’d like to plant in 2018.

It’s a nice yearly treat to rifle through the old packets and decide which new seeds (and old favourites) to buy.

Last year I tried to grow a few ‘heritage’ plants from seeds and had some disastrous outcomes. They promised so much but actually were pretty poor in terms of quality and quantity, perhaps they are heritage varieties for a reason…


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