Sweet and hot pepper season will soon be over (at least in this part of the world), so make sure you don’t miss last moments to enjoy it and maybe preserve it. My organic farmers’ market stall sells chilli regularly, but this year their harvest has been particularly rich. They have increased the number of varieties and thus I came back home with half a kilo of beautiful red and orange habaneros. If you are not a big chilli fan, you might not know, but habaneros are incredibly hot (much more than for example long red cayenne peppers). They have however an extremely seductive, enticing aroma that makes you want devour them, no matter how much your mouth is on fire afterwards… This oily habanero paste is one of the easiest ways to preserve this fantastic chilli variety and its splash guarantees an immediate upgrade and awakening kick to any omelet, boiled egg, toast, pizza, grilled meat… or really any dish. Only for fiery food lovers!
I have based this recipe on the Italian preserve, often served here in pizzerias, called “Peperoncini sott’olio”.
By the way, I’m searching for other ways to use my habaneros (and the ones I’ll probably buy tomorrow…), so if anyone has a recipe, I’ll be extremely grateful!
TIPS: Wear gloves!!!! Do not touch the peppers (even whole) without gloves and make sure you wash well the cutting board, the knife and anything that they have been in touch with. I did wear gloves, but have inadvertently rubbed my eyes after touching the knife… I cried for half an hour.
Make sure you remove the seeds. Even without the seeds habaneros are extremely fiery (and it’s a big chilli geek talking…).
If you cannot stand the heat of habaneros, you can try mixing them with milder chillies or even with sweet peppers.
This is a short-term preserving method, which moreover uses fresh produce and has a very low acidity, so keep it in the fridge (you can probably freeze it too!).
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.
If you don’t like/have peanut oil, use any oil you prefer. Given the hotness of habaneros, it’s a pity to use olive oil (I have made a tiny batch to test and it ended up as I had suspected: confronted with the heat and strong aroma of habaneros, olive oil’s delicate flavours practically disappear…).
Preparation: about 30 – 40 minutes
Ingredients (yields 1 x 200 ml jar (not full)):
about 15 habaneros (or a mixture of milder chillies and/or sweet peppers, but keep at least 20% of habaneros)
2 medium garlic cloves
1 heaped teaspoon salt
150 ml peanut oil (or more)
1 tablespoon vinegar (I have used red wine vinegar)
Put on the gloves.
Wash the chilli peppers.
Discard the stems and the seeds.
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).
When they start sticking to the pan (after about 5-10 minutes), pour the oil.
Fry the chillies at very low temperature for about 10 minutes, constantly stirring (add more oil if you see that it’s been quickly absorbed).
Put aside and when it cools down, add the vinegar and salt.
(Add more salt if needed or more vinegar if it’s too salty).
Put into a jar, close it and keep in the fridge.
Chillies can be eaten at once, but they improve with time, so try to wait 24 hours before serving.