Activity | Red Hot Ristras | Desert Botanical Garden


Courtesy of Tavo Ruffo, Fabulous Food Fine Catering & Events and Gertrude’s Restaurant

Add some Southwest flare to your décor this holiday season. This ristra is multi-purpose–after enjoying it’s color-changing beauty, use the dried chiles in cooking. Fun fact: while you’ll start with green chiles, you will see them transition from green to yellow to red!


Materials needed:
  • Scissors
  • Twine/string
  • 50 – 60 green chiles (to make a 1.5 -2 foot ristra). It is important to select chiles with stems that will be able to withstand a tight knot. If you try to make your ristra with dry chiles you risk breaking the brittle stems
  • Corn husks (for decoration)


  1. Begin with an arms-length (about 4 feet) amount of string and tie it in a loop. Hang this loop on a hook, on a branch, etc. This loop will be length of your ristra. 

  2. With another piece of string, tie a simple slipknot on one end.

    Ristra slipknot
  3. Group three chiles by their stems and cinch the slipknot. Wrap the string around the stems 2-3 times and secure with a half hitch by making a loop with your fingers counter clockwise and tightening over the stems. Ristra chile loopsRistra chile loops

    Hanging chiles
  4. Make another half hitch about 5 inches away from first grouping of chiles and group the next three chiles, wrap around twice and half hitch. At the end of the line tie a double knot at the end to keep the string from unraveling. Bunches of chiles
  5. Continue until all chiles are used. It may also be easier to split it into several strands instead of one long one.
  6. Pick up chiles and begin positioning them at the bottom of the loop,  braiding them into the loop making sure the chiles will stay in place. Bunches of chiles
  7. Continue until you reach the desired length and simply tie a knot to hang the ristra. Full ristra
  8. Corn husks can be used as a decoration to top your ristra. Run a fork through the corn husks to get long strands and bunch the strands and with a piece a string tie the strands as you would a broom.
  9. Hang in a place where it will stay dry and get some airflow. If it gets wet, the chiles could spoil and ruin the ristra. Dried ristra
    ristra seeds