Hot Peppers
Storing Their Heat & Flavour

WARNING - Throughout these recipes for hot peppers, wear rubber gloves, wash hands frequently and do NOT rub your eyes or lick your fingers

The garden produces an abundance of hot peppers each summer and I need a way to use that heat while cooking throughout the winter. I have two different ways to store this heat. The peppers can be dried, (that’s the tricky part,) and then ground into a powder. The other method is to make hot oil that you can use for heating up stir fries or salads or whatever.

Cayenne Pepper Flakes
There are a variety of ways to dry hot peppers. I prefer to string them on a thread or just spread them (in a single layer,) on a screen or cookie sheet. Leave them in the sun and check regularly for peppers that have decided to rot instead of drying.

When they are dry and brittle, break off the stem end and grind them into as fine a flake or powder as you like. I use the electric coffee bean grinder and it does the job quite well. Disclaimer. I don’t drink coffee so I cannot vouch for the quality of that beverage after I have used and attempted to thoroughly clean the grinder. Store in an air tight jar. Will keep for a couple of years although it slowly loses its potency.

Hot Oil
While the hot peppers are still fresh cut off the green stem ends. Choose a good quality vegetable oil, such as sunflower. I use mostly olive oil in my kitchen but it is too flavourful in it’s own right to use here. Use a large heavy pot, who’s capacity is at least twice, and preferably three times, the volume of oil that you are going to use. Add the cleaned peppers to the oil. The more peppers you use the hotter the finished product. I would use 10 - 15 cayenne peppers per liter of oil.

Slowly heat the oil. At some point, as the oil passes the boiling point of water, it will froth up dramatically as the water in the peppers boils out. That’s the reason for the large pot. Reduce heat and stir regularly until the frothing stops. Continue to heat the oil until the peppers start to turn dark. Cool and then discard the blackened peppers.

The gift bottles that you have seen with bright red peppers in them did not get their heat from those peppers. If you want to make gift bottles add a few dried peppers for decoration after the oil has cooled. I keep a bottle of this hot oil beside my stove at all times and it get’s splashed into a variety of dishes. You will quickly learn how hot your oil is and adjust your use of it accordingly.

The remainder goes back into the container that the oil was purchased in and is labeled as hot. It will store in the cold room for at least a year.

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