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How to Preserve Chilis: 4 Ways-Anita's HotChef


Habanero chilis

Anita’s Hot Sauce works year round with farmers in Taitung to make sure we have the varieties of peppers needed for our sauces. To minimize waste and have an emergency reserve we preserve our harvests. If you grow peppers for yourself then it is most likely you will harvest more than you need or can give away. Preserve those chilies for later use. The key to fool proof preservation is to work clean. Here are some of the ways:

1.Pepper Mash

Fermentation is used to preserve the chili peppers and to add a richer flavor to the sauce. All Chilies are covered in good bacteria called lactobacillus. We grind the chili's and add salt. The salt and juices mix to create a brine.

This brine breaks down the peppers transforming the sugars into lactic acid which creates both flavor and a defense against bad bacteria. If the brine is kept in an environment with no air it allows the natural lactic acid to survive while undesirable bacteria cannot.

After a couple of weeks the fermenting activity diminishes and then the chilies are stored for later use. This is a great way of preserving chilies to make hot sauce at a later time.

2. Pickling

This is a process of lacto-fermenting the peppers using a salt water brine. The peppers can be sliced or put in brine whole. Fill an airtight jar with peppers leaving a few centimeters of head space. Mix sea salt, water and your preferred spices and add it to peppers.

Culture at room temperature and open the lid daily until desired flavor is achieved. Once the chilies are finished store in the refrigerator unopened for up to a year. You can add these peppers to a pizza, use as a garnish or eat as a snack.

3. Drying

You can use a dehydrator, oven dry, hang the chilies or just lay the peppers on a counter in very arid climates. The chilies will dry faster if they are cut smaller.

After the peppers are dried you can grind them into a powder for later use. Removing moisture from the peppers will intensify the heat and natural sugars. You can now use this dried pepper in the same way you add seasoning to any dish. Beware of the heat.

4. Freezing

You can freeze peppers sliced, chopped or whole. Place the peppers on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer. Once they are frozen place them in an airtight container and store in the freezer.

Frozen chilies are no longer crisp when you freeze them so it’s better to use in cooked dishes. They may also lose some of their flavor and heat.

Whether you grow chilies for commercial or personal use, preserving is a great way to handle an abundant harvest. There are hundreds of different ways to preserve peppers. Find the method that you are comfortable with and matches your needs. Good Luck!

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