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Nov 1, 2013 08:43 AM

Where to buy a variety of fresh chili peppers

I'm trying to follow a recipe for authentic chili con carne that calls for the following ingredients:

3 whole sweet fresh chilies like Costeño, New Mexico, or Choricero, stems and seeds removed
2 small hot chilies like Arbol or Cascabel, stems and seeds removed
2 whole Chipotle chilies canned in adobo sauce, plus 2 tablespoons sauce, stems and seeds removed
3 whole rich fruity chilies like Ancho, Mulatto, Negro, or Pasilla, stems and seeds removed

We're talking fresh, not dried. My local (Silver Spring) Whole Foods has just about none of these. Anyone know a source in the Montgomery County/DC area?


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  1. There's a Megamart in Silver Spring. I haven't spent too much time in them, but I'd assume they would at least have some of those chiles.

    1. But some of those ARE dried, i.e ancho is just a dried poblano. I think pasilla is also dried, but don't quote me on that.

      Anyway, if you do end up looking for dried, try a Fresh Market if there's one around you. I've noticed they carry several varieties.

      Good luck!

      1. well the chipotle in adobo you can get almost anywhere. the others might be more difficult but I know that they sell a wide variety of different peppers at Fresh World. They have locations in Springfield, VA and District Heights so not sure which one would be more convenient for you. Probably District Heights although Im only familiar with the Springfield store and there (especially during the summer) you can find several dozen different kinds of fresh peppers at any given moment.

        1. Thanks for all your replies. Chowhound is outstanding.

          Update: here are the only fresh chilies Whole Foods and Giant Foods have:

          I went to Bestway on Piney Branch off Flower in Silver Spring and got every pepper I needed -- but all dried. I asked the cashier and the manager if there was a place in the area that sold them fresh, and they said, "No way."

          By the way, does anyone have any comments about using dried instead of fresh in a bonafide chili con carne recipe where they guy makes a point of saying DON'T USE DRIED?

          4 Replies
          1. re: spillenger

            Hmmm...while I've never done this with a pepper, I am thinking about what I've done with dried mushrooms - just reconstituted them in some warm water, and then treated them the same way I would fresh mushrooms.

            1. re: VaPaula

              I've seen that instruction in recipes that call for dried chilis. Chop them up (dried) and soak them in hot water for a few minutes. Where you might run into a snag is in measurement if it's specified as teaspoons or cups rather than a number of peppers.

            2. re: spillenger

              As mentioned above some of those are specifically dried varieties, others are gonna be pretty damn hard to find fresh. NM is basically an Anaheim which should be easy enough to find anywhere.

              I think most recipes would use dried for these very reasons.

              1. re: spillenger

                I live in Minnesota, thus no access to fresh chilis in the winter. (If you wonder why I'm posting here, I have been checking the Board regularly as I will be in the area in a few months.) Rather than buying refrigerated chilis from the grocery store, I buy them dried, and create a "chili sauce" for my chili as follows:

                Pan toast about 10 dried Ancho chilis. Then reconstitute in some very hot water for about 1/2 hour. During that 1/2 hour oven roasted 1 large sliced onion (turn once) and a whole head of garlic. After 1/2 hour, take the stems and seeds out of chilis, added to blender with onion and garlic and a cup or so of stock (i use beef - you can use anything, even water). Then strain through a fine sieve (optional). Heat a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil until smoking in pot. Add the strained sauce (need to be very careful - it will splatter - if you have a screen use it!) mexican oregano and cumin. Simmer with cover on, stirring occasionally, about a half hour to forty-five minutes.

                I know, sounds like a lot of work. But it is an unbelievable tasting "Sauce." I don't use any chili powder in my Chili - it tastes tinny - even Penzey's - I just use this sauce. And it made enough for two batches - just freeze half of it.

                p.s. Don't forget to add a bottle of dark beer to your chili......

              2. I'm pretty sure I am looking to make the exact same recipe here in Baltimore. Any suggestions on dried vs fresh chili situation?