It’s nice when we get compliments for something we’ve made and our Chili Rings always draw plenty of lovely comments at events. These colourful decorations look great in any kitchen but making them can be quite a task.
Chillies are hot (and dried ones also produce chilli dust) so preparation and care during production are essential. This is how I do it:-
First of all dress up like a nuclear physicist in the lab - thank you David for modelling this. Put on latex gloves, a face mask and preferably goggles too!! All bare flesh should be covered and it is preferable for hair to be covered as well – chilli dust can get everywhere!
- WARNING! Do not rub your eyes during production or you’ll regret it for the rest of the day
- Having a box of tissues handy is also useful as you will start to sneeze and stream if any chilli dust gets through your defences.
- Once suitably dressed, sort out some good dried chillies and allow for extras (say another 10%) as chillies can be brittle and may split during the process.
- You will also need something to thread them on to - I use a florist’s wire ring for rigidity but you can use strong flexible wire if preferred. You will also need some raffia, a pair of pliers, and a sharp instrument for carefully making holes - I use a tailor's awl.
- Grade the chillies according to the size of ring. My personal choice is to put slightly longer ones at the bottom and middle of the ring and the smaller ones near the top where the join will be.
- Before threading I cut off the stalks to within about a quarter of an inch of the chilli. You can leave these on if you wish but I find this leaves an untidy final product and the stalks keep catching on things.
- Using the awl carefully make a small hole in each chilli and thread them on to the ring, positioning the stalk ends differently each time so they give a spiral effect.
- Pack the chillies fairly tightly together but be careful as rough treatment may break them. Continue until the ring is almost full, leaving no more than an inch of wire exposed either side of the opening. Using the pliers, make a small loop at one end of the ring and then the other end of the ring is passed through this loop to form another loop, which is then closed to complete the ring.
- Cover the bare wire and loops with raffia and attach a hanging loop.
- Make and attach a raffia or ribbon bow to finish
- Remove the protective clothing, blow your nose and wash your face and hands before touching anything else!!
The finished chilli ring should be handled gently to prevent damage to the chillies but if they have been packed tightly on the wire this problem is minimised. Once hung in place the ring will be an attractive decoration in your home for years to come.