Homemade Chili Powder
by Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime
Soon August will be upon us and with it comes the first of the season. Yes, you guessed it, that’s preseason football. And with football come friends and Sunday afternoon gatherings full of all sorts of tailgating munchies and a pot of chili.
At the heart of all the deliciousness inside the pot is the melange of a summer season where peppers and chiles grew standing out in the hot sun while we enjoyed the air-conditioning indoors. But don’t feel bad for these peppers. They are at their best when given harsh growing conditions.
Now you could hop on over to your local grocer and buy an amazingly huge tub of cheap chili powder. But really, what’s all in that stuff? Well, ground dried chiles and spices of several types. But with the stuff at the market, what else? Cellulose as filler? You know what stuff is don’t you? (sawdust)
So I am back on my soapbox about the reasons making things from scratch is better for you. (no sawdust)
Okay. Enough of that. I think you got the point. Because I don’t like to preach. And I don’t like sawdust either. (just sayin’!)
The melting pot of America is such that it has become a wonderful place in the last 25 years or so to buy any of the myriad of unusual ingredients for cooking that were not available before in Main Street America. Case in point are packages of dried chiles, which you can get at Mexican tiendas (those are grocery stores, btw). You can get just about any Latin ingredient without having to grow it yourself or buy it in a bottle, after having sat on the grocery shelf (how long?)
There I go again. I really do have an attitude about it, don’t I?
But I implore you to listen: grinding your own chile powder is easy stuff, and once you smell the oils in the chiles flower from the heat of a comal or dry skillet, you will be forever changed. It only takes a few minutes, then just let them cool enough to handle, rip off the stems and shake out the seed clusters. Then they are primed and ready to be ground in a spice mill. If you don’t own a spice mill, you can substitute a small coffee grinder if you designate it for grinding your spices. After all, you really don’t want tiny bits of chiles finding their way into your morning cup of joe, do you? That’s what I thought. 😉
So this is my recipe for it. I did a side by side taste test to store bought chili powder, and even got a second opinion about the flavor (that would be Bill, my better half!). We both agreed that theirs was a bit saltier. (Which I don’t over salt my spices, by the way) Also, we both agreed that there was better complexity and flavor in mine.
This recipe makes just over 2 cups. I didn’t measure it exactly, but it was about that much total. Which is about the same amount you would get in one of those tubs of store bought chile powder.
And of course, if you need to substitute ready ground spices instead of toasting and grinding your own chiles, that’s fine. As you can see in my photo, I have used some of those before myself.
I hope you enjoy, and find this to pair excellently in your chili.
About the football, I extend my sympathies if you are not a Green Bay Packer fan. We are both cheese heads (That’s me and Bill) and you know what we say:
“Go Pack Go!”
(and we are going all the way to the Superbowl this year, baby…)
Homemade Chili Powder
- 3/4 cup ground/powdered California or New Mexico chiles
- 3 tablespoons ground/powdered guajillo chiles
- 3 tablespoons ground/powdered ancho chiles
- 6 tablespoons ground/powdered cumin seed
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon ground epazote or mint
- 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Toast whole dried chiles over a comal or open flame, being careful not to burn.
- Allow to cool, then tear off stems and remove seed pod. Tear remaining chile into pieces then grind in a spice grinder or dedicated coffee mill (used for grinding spices only.)
- Grind remaining spices if they aren’t already ground.
- Stir together and stir in a sealed container in a cool dry place until needed.
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