Peperoncini freschi sott’olio (Fresh Chilli in Olive Oil)

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If – as I have heard several times – you also think that dried chillies can easily replace fresh ones, you would certainly change your mind after tasting this amazing condiment. Apart from their obvious heat, fresh chillies are naturally sweet, vibrant and fruity. The combination of these qualities combined with garlic and olive oil create here a unique taste and olfactory experience, bringing a sunny touch to any meal or snack. For years I have been enjoying peperoncini sott’olio in my favourite pizzerias and had no idea it would be so easy to make at home (moreover with a luscious result).

Looking for a reliable recipe for something I even didn’t know had a name, I learnt that peperoncini sott’olio (chillies in oil) are a Calabrian specialty (just like “olio santo”, the extremely popular chilli-infused oil) and that every home cook seems to have a different method… There are two major types: chopped fresh chillies or bigger chilli chunks, both preserved in olive oil, sometimes also with garlic (some versions also call for herbs). As the name suggests and as you see at the photograph, chillies dominate the jar and are simply covered with oil, contrary to chilli oil (the only exception is the thick Japanese chilli oil, Taberu Rayu, which has a lot of sediments). I have chosen the chopped pepper version since it was easier and seemed more versatile. Garlic’s presence is not obligatory, but as a big fan, I  would never skip this option. This recipe is a mixture of what I liked most and what I found easiest among all the web sources I visited. If you understand Italian, I found useful tips and remarks for example here and here. I have read some other recipes probably too, but these are the only sources I remember…

I have never tried long-term preserving fresh produce in oil (much trickier and definitely dangerous than for example chilli oil made with dried peppers) and given different methods and ideas of oil preservation I found, for now I decided to content myself with a short-term fridge preserve I intend to finish in maximum ten days. (Given the fact that in the several hours following the preparation I ate half of the jar content only with baguette slices, I don’t think my peperoncini sott’olio will keep that long, anyway…).

TIPS: If you wonder how to use this condiment, as I have mentioned, it’s fantastic on a pizza, but also on a slice of good bread, on pasta, on toast, in a sandwich, on potatoes, grilled meat, fish… and I had it yesterday with a wild mushroom omelette… It was extraordinary!

This is a short-term preserving method, which moreover uses fresh produce and has a very low acidity, so keep it in the fridge.

Vinegar is here not only to add some acidity, always good for preservation, but also to improve the taste. Before adding the vinegar I found this somewhat bland.

Preparation: about 30 – 40 minutes

Ingredients (yields 1 x 200 ml jar (not full)):

10 long fresh red chillies (mine were10-12 cm long and were only slightly hot; I have no idea what the variety is called like; adapt the heat level to your preferences)

1-2 garlic cloves

salt

150 ml olive oil 

1 tablespoon wine vinegar (I have used red wine vinegar)

Wash the chilli peppers.

Discard the stems.

Chop roughly the peeled garlic clove.

Mix both in a food processor (don’t make a pulp though, they should be just very finely chopped) or chop with a knife (wearing gloves!).

Warm an empty frying pan.

Heat the chopped chillies and garlic at very low temperature, constantly stirring, so that they dry a bit and release some of their juices (but don’t dry them too much; they shouldn’t change the colour).

After about 5 minutes pour the oil into the pan.

Fry the chillies at very low temperature for about 20 minutes.

Put aside and when it cools down, add the vinegar and salt to taste.

Put into a jar, close it and keep in the fridge for ten days maximum.

Chillies can be eaten at once, but they improve with time, so try to wait 24 hours before serving.

28 thoughts on “Peperoncini freschi sott’olio (Fresh Chilli in Olive Oil)

  1. Helene DSouza

    I known somebody who will go crazy for this condiment! In goa they make something similar too, just that it’s made with regular sunflower oil (and if I am not mistaken with coconut oil too). I haven’t made anything like this in a while too. Kindof feel inspired now Sissi. Thanks for the recipe, we will enjoy it. 🙂

    1. Sissi

      Thank you so much, Helene. I think I might try coconut oil one day… it sounds like another great idea!

  2. A_Boleyn

    I think I’d like this quite a bit but I’m determined NOT to start canning cause I’d be tempted to go overboard with it. 🙂 And, with the speed that I use up things, I’d have to give away most of what I made. So, I’ll have to stick with sambal oelek.

    1. Sissi

      Thank you, A_Boleyn. I don’t think you would go overboard with this one because it’s very short term preserving method, unlike for example pepper pickles or jams with which one can become really addict and easily make dozens of jars in one week.

    1. Sissi

      Hi, Dedy. I used to make dried chilli in oil too. Fresh chillies in oil are completely different. Sweeter and fruitier. You should try it one day.

  3. Eva Taylor

    I know exactly the oil you are referring to Sissi, they serve it with Pizza at my favourite Italian restaurant in Toronto. I had no idea it was this easy to make, thank you for the post. I do have a very nice variety of dried chillis in my pantry, so I will have to search around for a dried version. With Christmas coming sooner than I’d like, this would make a lovely hostess gift, perhaps with some home made focaccia.

  4. mjskit

    Another great chile recipe Sissi! This is going to be a great recipe once our New Mexico chiles starts turning red. Those would yield a sweet and spiciness to this condiment. There are SO many ways I could use this in addition to the ones you listed.

    1. Sissi

      Thank you so much, MJ. I cannot even imagine how good it would be with your own chiles… Let me know if you make it (and I’m very curious about the ways you would use it too! i’m sure that as a big fan of chile, you will be very creative).

  5. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles

    I love this idea Sissi and I do think it would go over very well on pizza or as a base for bruschetta or, more commonly in my case, drizzled over eggs ;-). You answered one of my question too which is great. I’m looking at this lovely preserve and wondering if I could make it and gift it to our neighbors (you know, the generous ones 🙂 … I suppose I could just instruct them to leave it in their fridge and use it up within 10 days — and they are right next store, it’s not like the jar will travel… of course, they are also growing peppers in their garden! (got the grand tour this weekend) so maybe a recipe card too with written instructions and thereafter they can make their own with their garden ingredients! how great is that… thanks Sissi 🙂

    1. Sissi

      Thank you so much, Kelly. For your neighbours you could also make Taberu Rayu (I have posted two versions: “normal” and simplified). Taberu rayu keeps for longer and doesn’t require refrigeration because it’s made with dried chillies and garlic is well fried too. How lucky you are to have such nice neighbours! (These are the ones who brought you vegetables, I guess).

  6. nipponnin

    I have a few jars of Taberu Rayu! When I don’t want to make supper, put this on hot cooked rice. So satisfying and you don’t need anything else…may be some Japanese pickle will complete. I think this recipe have same value to it….and it’s homemade! Awesome!

    1. Sissi

      Thank you so much, Nipponnin. This one has a slightly more Italian touch (or European), but it definitely goes well with Japanese dishes and rice too.

  7. Katerina

    Preserving veggies in olive oil is a very common practice in all med countries. I am sure the taste and aroma of this oil must be magnificent!

  8. Joyti

    This sounds delicious – I imagine it must smell amazing. I bet it would be great to use a bit in a marinara sauce too 🙂

  9. Juliana

    I have never made this kind of condiment using fresh chili…looks handy and great to have in the fridge for an extra flavor.
    Thanks for the recipe Sissi…hope you are having a wonderful week 😀

  10. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    I seriously think I’m ready for Taberu Rayu. I’ve worked on my tolerance for spice and my husband is actually surprised. I’m still careful when I’m eating out, but I do order pretty spicy stuff without worrying too much compared to before. It will be no time I try this! I’ve been curious and I like the sound of omelette or pizza with the fresh chili in oil…. 😀

    1. Sissi

      Congratulations, Nami! I told you a long time ago that it’s only a question of time. Now we could go together to Tokyo’s Korean district and have the spiciest dishes! Fresh chili in oil is very different from dried powder, but both are excellent. It’s a nice thing to change from taberu rayu to fresh chili in oil and then to put some raimu koshu on another dish… (I now have all three of them in the kitchen!).

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