Why You Should Never Throw Out The Water After Soaking Dried Chiles

Dried chiles are a flavor powerhouse when cooking. They bring a deep complexity to many dishes and cuisines, from chile colorado and chicken mole to soups, salsas, and desserts. We highly recommend using them in your kitchen, as taking the time to soak the dried chiles is well worth the effort. When you do, you won't only be left with delicious, potent peppers, but also the equally valuable water they have been rehydrated in. 

Instead of throwing this liquid out, save it to use as a resourceful ingredient for amping up any number of dishes. Soaking chiles is an important step in cooking with them. Drying the chiles is an excellent way to preserve them, but they must regain some amount of moisture to soften and impart their taste more successfully. 

In the process of water entering the chile, the water itself is also infused with the chile's flavors, creating a sort of savory and smoky broth. It's not something you will want to pour down the sink, as it can impart an incredible taste to your next dish. 

How to use leftover chili water

Depending on the type of chiles you are soaking, the leftover water can have a variety of flavors. For example, dried jalapeños, also known as chipotles, are on the smokier side, while chile de árbol tends to have a more acidic spice. The chile will impart its unique flavor to the water, as well as some color, so how you choose to use it will depend on which chiles you are soaking and whether your goal is to add predominantly smoky, spicy, fruity, or vegetal flavor to your dish.

Use this liquid gold to make extra punchy rehydrated beans or to create intensely flavorful grains like rice or pasta. You can also pour it into soup or sauces to add an extra layer of sophistication and intrigue. We even recommend experimenting by adding it to more unorthodox recipes, like alongside mezcal in a smoky cocktail or cooked down with sugar to create a unique simple syrup.