Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Chillies Wednesday, February 24th 2016

Last weekend my sister in law gave me a bag of chillies which flourish all year round in a protected warm spot on her garden. She assured me that they weren't too hot but a scratch of the skin made me think otherwise. She wasn't sure of the species but distinctive features of black seeds and slightly hairy leaves made it quite easy to identify as Capsicum pubescens, a pepper of Central and South American origin known as Manzana. It was rated as "very hot"! As I am not a great fan of mouth burning foods, I had to find a way of modifying the heat to make good use of them.
My first experiment in the Preserving Patch Kitchen was to try adding them to my standard Zucchini pickles recipes. This recipe requires you to salt the zucchini, onion, lemon zest overnight which I thought might be a way of drawing out the heat. Next morning, I heated up cider vinegar, sugar, turmeric, dill seeds and mustard seeds then added the veges and brought quickly to the boil for 5 minutes. I bottled the pickles and they looked beautiful with touches of red throughout the jar. These pickles you can use straightaway so I was able to do a taste test. The pickling did modify the chilli heat and made it quite palatable. Winner.

Next experiment was to try to preserve some under oil,I've I do for artichoke hearts. This involves bringing the chilli slices to the boil in white wine and white wine vinegar. This kills off any surface bacteria which could cause botulism. You then cover the slices in oil to keep them long term. The result of the taste test this time was quite different. Hot, hot,hot. Something to use sparingly in a curry perhaps. It looks lovely on the windowsill though. I tasted the vinegar as well and that was even more potent. That was definitely destined to be poured down the sink. 

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