Selection and Storage

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Fresh Chilies:Select those that are mature, dry, firm, and heavy for their size. The skin should be shiny, smooth, and unblemished, and the chile should have a fresh, clean smell. Wash the chiles to remove dirt or other residue, dry them, wrap them in paper towels, and store them in a crisper section of your refrigerator, where they should keep for up to two weeks. Do not store them in plastic bags as moisture will accumulate and hasten the spoiling process, and don't leave them out in the open as they will shrivel and rapidly lose flavor and texture.

Dried Chiles: Select those those that are uniform in color and that have deep or brilliant color. Make sure they are not faded, dusty, or dirty and that there are no white spots or other makings that indicate improper drying, disease, or over-long storage. Select unbroken chiles, otherwise the essential oils that are contained in the flesh and that give chiles their unique flavors will have evaporated. Good quality chiles will have a degree of flexibility, indicating freshness (indicating they are from a recent crop). They should also have a good aroma, like fresh spices. Store dried chiles in airtight containers in a cool, dry, dark place. Recommended time for storing dried chiles is 6 months although it is possible to store them longer. If you do keep them longer, check through them occasionally and discard any that have spoiled.
Fresh and Dried Chiles information is from The Great Chile Book by Mark Miller.

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