Hot saucy

We harvested a lot of chills yesterday. Our four jalapeño plants won’t stop producing.

The best thing about having mountains of chillies, is getting to experiment with pickles and sauces and generally to get heat into everything for a while.

The first batch of chillies we harvested a few months ago, were mild. The second batch, 6 weeks later were hotter than the hottest hot sauce. I couldn’t breath after trying the first one and I love heat.

The third batch picked yesterday, were somewhere in between. I have been trying to work out why the hot/cold thing? According to my friend Clinton, it is all about how much water the plants are getting during their production phase. Not enough, they are hotter than Ryan Gosling. More water and the chillies can be eaten happily raw by young children. Since this discovery, I have been watering more carefully to ensure we can feel our lips and don’t develop ulcers from eating our homegrown hotties. If you are keen to grow your own, buy some seedlings from a garden store for guaranteed results or keep some seeds of a particular chilli that you like, and sow them in the spring. Chillies are great grown in pots or straight in the ground (like ours), are quite resilient and are good producers. Give them a go.

So what to do with all the chillies? I decided to dry some (a successful effort, very pretty and quite useful but an exercise which cost me a lot of time). I made a very hot chilli sauce – one jar I kept for us and another I gave away as a present to some friends who had us to stay at their beautiful beach house down south and who are chilli sauce lovers and definitely connoisseurs (anyone who keeps a bottle of tabasco in their car in case of emergencies is serious about chilli, in my opinion). I also decided to get some pickle going. All were very good. But let’s evaluate.

Dried Chillies

The easiest method for drying chillies is to take your chillies to the Mexican desert (or somewhere with absolutely no humidity and searing heat, like the Australian red center) and dry them in the sun. Not a real option for us Sydneysiders where humidity is the norm.

You can also buy a dehydrator and give that a go. Still it’s pricey and perfect results are not guaranteed.

I opted for tying my chillies together with garden twine and popping them in a low oven overnight. This did dry the chillies out, but they needed longer, much much longer than 1 night, in the oven. It is a better idea to buy some very good quality dried chillies from Herbies in Balmain and give the home drying a miss.

Chilli Sauce

The chilli sauce on the other hand, was awesome and quick. Add 250g of roughly chopped chillies, 1 can of peeled tomatoes, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup white wine or champagne vinegar to a pan and simmer for 10 mins. Blitz with a hand blender and pour into sterilised jars. We ate the chilli sauce with an omelette last night and I added it to a salad dressing tonight. The chillies are hot but tempered by the vinegar and sugar. Delicious.

We tagged the sauce jar with a note for our friends, popped it in a black bag with some photos of us harvesting the chillies, and pegged it closed with a peg mini blackboard.

Chilli Pickles

I just love pickled chillies whether on a tortilla, a beef chilli, on an omelette or with a crumbly aged cheddar and sourdough baguette (try a baguette from organic bread on South Dowling St Paddington it is the best I’ve tasted for a while).

Add 500ml of white wine vinegar, 250ml water and 3 tablespoons of sugar to a pan. Simmer for 8 mins. Heat a clean pickling glass jar in the oven until sterilised. Add the veg (I added a layer of french shallots, a layer of jalapeño chillies and a few mini lebanese cucumbers on the top).  Add 2.5 teaspoons of sea salt flakes, 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds, 8 peppercorns, 4 fresh bay leaves to the simmering vinegar and sugar mix and immediately add to the sterilised jar. Tap the jar on the table a few times to release any air bubbles and fasten the lid.

And wait at least a week until breaking into the jar. As long as it has been properly sterilised, an unopened jar will last up to 6 months in the pantry. To be safe, leave it in the fridge.

Any other ideas for chillies?

Enjoy the hot sauce

Kamilla x

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Categories: Recipes

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One Comment on “Hot saucy”

  1. 23/04/2012 at 11:06 pm #

    Ooh ! I love chillies …some pretty cool tips there , thankyou 🙂

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