Peppers at their best
If you like to use fresh peppers, they are at their best (according to many people) if they’ve just changed color, for example from green to red or from green to yellow. At that moment they have the fresh taste of the young green pepper, but also the rich, full taste of the mature pepper. In the mature pepper, the amount of vitamin A and the quantity of sugar is higher. Once the peppers are fully colored, they will slowly dry out.
Drying chilies is the oldest and most common way to preserve them. All peppers can be dried, but some are more difficult than others. For some meaty peppers and ones with a thick fruit wall, such as the Jalapeno, drying is difficult. Therefore Jalapenos are often smoked and dried. This product we call chipotle. Other chillies are often roasted first so it’s easier to remove their hard skin. On the BBQ you can roast them and remove their skin.
Small peppers with little meat can be dried indoors on a warm spot. With dried peppers you can make a rista (photo left) or a wreath (pictured right) by hanging them in a string. Especially the Cayenne Long Slim and Golden Cayenne are very suitable for this purpose. The more meat peppers contain, the more difficult to dry. Thereby they are more sensitive to fungi. To prevent fungus, you can cut them open. In the sun they dry well, but you can also put them in the oven on a plate (whether cut in half or cut into pieces) at a maximum of 90 degrees Celsius. After 6 to 8 hours they’re dry. In the oven the color of the peppers is slightly darker than in the sun. Chili peppers are dry if you can they break them.
There are also dehydrators for sale to dry vegetables and peppers.
You can preserve the dried whole peppers, but they can also be used in a pepper grinder (chilli grinder). In this case, you first have to grind the chilies into smaller pieces before they can be put in the (transparent) pepper grinder. Very handy for in the kitchen. They can also be pulverized in an electric blender. Wear a surgical mask (or the like) when crushing the chilies. Chili powder in your nose or throat is not pleasant at all! If possible, grind them outside. Store the powder in small airtight jars.
Freezing is a great way to preserve chilli peppers. Put them in freezer bags to prevent dehydration. They keep the same taste as fresh peppers. The texture of chillies during freezing is changing because of rupturing of the cells.
You can preserve chili peppers in vinegar. Make sure that the bottles and jars are clean. Leave the mixture undisturbed for at least three weeks for a full flavour. Use chili vinegar in marinades or, along with oil, in salads.
In the same way as described above, you can make chili oil. Because of the risk of botulism, you cannot keep the peppers in oil. Remove the chilies from the oil, once they have given off their taste.
You can preserve peppers in alcohol. This ensures well-preserved peppers and special drinks. Make chilies clean by removing the seeds and inner side. Cut the peppers into chunks, put them in a bottle and pour vodka, gin or rum over it. Leave it for at least two weeks.