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Oct 30, 2010 02:09 PM

Dried whole anchos to powder

I have just purchased a bag of dried (poblano) ancho chiles. What is the best way to powder these? I have tried some other whole dried chiles in a small food processor and it did a pretty good job, though they came out as chile flakes not powder. One of the problems was they were not completely dry and there were many large chunks.

The anchos are of a similar dryness. Can I put these on a cookie tray in the oven at a very low temp and dry them out further, say 225, without hurting their flavor?


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  1. I throw mine in a hot cast iron pan, toast, let cool, and blitz in my grinder (dedicated spice grinder). I get a powder as long as the chiles are cooled off. I don't know why the oven wouldn't work, but I'd go for more heat. Part of the wonderfulness of homemade chile powder is the toasty flavors.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Vetter

      Ditto, same exact technique. I leave the seeds in, some don't.

      To the OP Junior, you can dry in them out the oven, as you described, or just toast stove top. The flavor will not be affected at all, it will only add to the depth.

      1. re: bushwickgirl

        Same here. Toast and grind in a blade grinder.

    2. Very interesting. I decided to give both methods a try. I took 4 of the pods and dropped them into one of my new carbon steel pans on high heat. I kept flipping them over as they heated and I could see the areas that were touching the pan were blackening. I did this for about ten minutes and to my surprise they were getting pliable and soft not crumbly and drier. I set them aside to cool and put 4 more into the oven at 225. After they'd cooled I tried to deseed them and they had become brittle. It was a bit tough to get the seeds out and I decided to yank the ones in the oven and deseed first. Worked much easier. I continued with the pan toasted ones and dropped them into the mini food processor and gave them a good whizzing. Still some chunks, but there was powder too. I sifted that through a screen and put the larger pieces on the cookie sheet and popped that back into the oven.

      I'll have to see how the oven ones do, but I think that may be the easier method. If you want the seeds out it's certainly easier to do before hand. Do you powder them seeds and all? How does that affect the flavor and heat? In any case I now have a quarter bottle of powder for tonights tacos.

      This all started because I'd forgotten to get the powder at our regular store. I realized it on the way home and stopped at the local Safeway. I hate Safeway. They did have some made by McCormicks, but the ingredients listed silicon dioxide. I don't want silicon dioxide in my food so I put it back and left. Our little town has a tiny mexican store that caters to the local farm workers.

      I've never been in the place, but after Safeway I thought they might have it. When I walked in the eyes of the lady behind the counter just widened a bit in surprise. I'm pretty sure that not many white middle aged men walk into that store asking for ancho chiles. They had the dried whole poblanos, but no powder. So here I am drying and toasting. They had an amazing sweet smell in the bag and the house has a wonderful toasted chile aroma. I will deffinitely go back to this little store.


      1 Reply
      1. re: JuniorBalloon

        Another way to use the whole dried chiles - soak them in water. Then separate pulp from skin with a food mill, or just blend them, skin and all, till smooth. You can pan toast them before soaking.

        The dry powder has a longer shelf life, but I think prefer to use the smooth pulp.

        The Mexican store likely has a rack with spices in cello bags, among them several types of ground chile powder.

      2. I have Penzey's ancho chili powder and I rarely use it because reconstituting dried anchos into paste is so easy and they are so more lively it is no contest. And for a fraction of the price.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Veggo

          What are the steps for making the paste? Do you strip out the seeds?


          1. re: JuniorBalloon

            Re-hydrate them in a bowl of water for an hour, remove stem, cut them open and scrape out seeds with a spoon, and whack the flesh in a mini-chopper. And then take a little taste -yum. Good to go.

        2. I usually break the dried chile open, remove the stem and seeds. It doesn't matter if I need to break it into several pieces. I then soak the pieces. Sometimes I'll toast the pieces before soaking.

          7 Replies
          1. re: paulj

            Just curious, what is the added benefit of toasting the pieces?

            1. re: Veggo

              Without much experiences I can't talk to how it changes the flavor. With out toasting in a pan or in the oven the chiles I used would never have turned to powder. I would have ended up with little powder and mostly flakes. After I took the chiles out of the oven the big pieces were still a bit pliable. Once they'd cooled down they were brittle like chips and it was easy to break then into pieces and whiz them into powder. I now have one and a half bottles of powder from 8 chiles and a bag with 15 more whole. This will last me a good long time.


              1. re: Veggo

                Toasting dried chiles on a comal (Mexcian griddle) is a common practice in Mexico. I think it is done for same sort reasons that spices like cumin are toasted before use. I have not done a side by side taste test, so can't say exactly how it changes taste.

                1. re: paulj

                  I think toasting first gives the chilies a richer deeper flavor, over the flavor they have as simple dried chilies. I always do it, maybe blindly, but it seems to be a flavor heightener. Certainly smells nice while they're toasting.

                  I've never actlually ground the whole chilies, but just toast, and throw them in to the liquid, whole or torn, in whatever I'm making, or soak and puree, if I'm making a salsa. Sounds like the OP had the success he/she was looking for.

                  I used to remove the seeds after toasting, but I don't find that the dried chilies I use, anchos, pasillas, guajillos or moritas are zippy, so I don't bother anymore. Does removing the seeds, like you would a fresh serrano or other hot pepper, to lessen the heat, matter that much with a mild dried chile, or are you losing flavor by removing the seeds? Thoughts?

                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                    I always thought the seeds from dried chilis were removed because they don't puree well and they don't contribute to the flavor either.

                    1. re: AndrewK512

                      Yes, they don't puree at all, and don't leave you with a attractive product. Plus less stuck in the teeth, I guess. I'll go back to shaking them out when I make salsas. Thanks, Andrew.

                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                        Something I noticed when I pulled my chiles from the oven was that they had become soft. Right out of the bag they are more brittle and can break into small pieces. After just 4 or 5 mins in the oven at 225 they were easier to work with when deseeding and stayed in nice, whole pieces that could be flattened out on the cookie sheet.


            2. For dried chiles, I use the method described in The Best Recipe for toasting and grinding them into a powder. They suggest placing the chiles on a baking sheet in a preheated 350-degree oven until they're fragrant and puffed, about 6 minutes. My own notes added to the recipe say that Ancho chiles need about 8 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and when they're cool, remove the stems and seeds and tear the pods into pieces. Place the pieces in a spice grinder (I use my old coffee grinder) and process until powdery (30-45 seconds).