Processing and Using Your Chillies
Drying or dehydrating chillies is a really good way to prevent waste and store your surplus stocks, making your fruits go further.
If you are fortunate to live somewhere hot, you can air dry your surplus chillies the original way.
lightly wash the fruits. Cut the fruits in half and place them on a baking tray or wire mesh tray. Place the tray somewhere warm and dry, in direct sun. Periodically turn the fruits over and repeat until they are fully dry. This may take a day or more, dependant on the variety of fruit and local temperatures.
Alternatively, after washing, you can leave the fruits whole and thread or tie them on to a strong thread, making a chilli ristra.
Hang them somewhere to dry, in direct sunlight. Dependant on the fruits thickness and size, this can take a few weeks. Some varieties are more akin to this form of drying than others and can look very ornate.
Garlic, corn and other adornments can be added to make them even more ornate, or seasonal. These make a great decoration.
Oven Drying or Baking
Again, start by giving the fruits a little wash. Then slice the fruits open, lengthways and arrange on a baking or similar non stick sheet.
Bake them at around 100-135 degrees C. Leave the oven door open slightly, check them often and turn them as required. Be mindful that with the hotter chillies, the fumes can be quite intense. Consider keeping a window open!
Again, give the selected fruits a quick wash. Cut the fruits open, lengthways
and arrange the fruits on the trays of the dehydrator. Make sure to make a note of which variety is in which tray. Fruits are less easy to identify when dehydrated!
Set the temperature and away you go. Once dehydrated immediately seal them in an airtight bag or similar to prevent them taking on moisture. These should keep for months, if stored correctly.
You can dehydrate from frozen, it makes no real difference.
Powder and Flakes
What is the difference? Flakes are more course, larger pieces, where as powder is ground into a much finer product.
Powder especially is a great way to go, because it is a really good way of preserving the fruits, flavour and heat. If individual varieties of chillies are ground separately you can make a really ornate display of different colours.
Making flakes or powder is very simple, but be warned, especially with powder, it can get everywhere! It is worth wearing a form of protective mask.
You can of course do it all by hand, with a mortar and pestle, but it is a lot easier and quicker using something like a cheap coffee grinder.
Take your dried or dehydrated fruits and fill the grinder as required. For flakes, just pulse the grinder so they are not too finely ground. For powder, give them a good blitz, until you are happy with how finely ground your product is.
Carefully decant into a sealable container, whilst trying not to breath or sniff it in! You have been warned!
Don't forget to label you powders, so they can be appropriately selected later on. You don't want to be using super hot powder, when you intended a nice background heat for a meal.
You can make your own garlic powder in the same way and combine the two, for something extra special or you can blend your favourite powders together.
The very easy way to make chilli salt is to literally combine the salt of your choice, with the flakes of your choice. Blend them in a mortar and pestle. The ratio of salt to chilli flakes is your decision, but just remember this is a salt blend, so salt will need to be the predominant ingredient. The strength of the chilli variety will also come in to play.
Remember, you can always add, but not take away. Experiment a bit. Use different types of salt or blends. Remember there is Rock Salt, Sea Salt, Himalayan Pink Salt etc,. Apparently speciality salts are having a bit of a moment and you could save yourself a fortune, by making it yourself!
Dried Rocoto chillies work especially well in salt. A pinch of Rocoto Salt can really enhance a meal, much more than you would imagine.
You can use very finely chopped or blended fresh chillies, but the combined salt mixture will need to be left somewhere warm and dry to dry out the chilli.
If you are a lover of chilli heat, making your own sauce if a must. There are
plenty of ways to go. There is the uncooked salsa type sauce, which is quick and easy to make. There is the cooked fruit based sauces or the kick you in the face and run away, chilli sauce. The ingredients can be very varied but tend to include, at a minimum, chilli, onion and garlic, in various ratios. Here is a nice basic fruit sauce recipe:
Yellow Chilli and Pineapple Sauce
Consume within 6 months. You can add all sorts of ingredients. Different fruit, vegetables like carrot or fresh or dried herbs.
Simply, de-stalk and place in a bag with the variety written on the label. If you want to save freezer space, bulk blitz them in a food processor, then bag and freeze. Frozen chillies are very easy to chop, from frozen, just watch those fingers!
Alternately spoon blended or finely chopped chillies into ice cube trays and freeze ready for cooking at a later date.
Have fun, be creative and check out of stock of chilli seeds, available for immediate shipping worldwide.