Habanero Paste


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.


25 Replies to “Habanero Paste”

  1. Look at the gorgeous colour on your paste!! An awakening kick… I’ll say… habaneros are HOT!! 😀 yeehaw. Love it. And I know precisely what you mean about their seductive power too… it wasn’t that long ago, my son purchased a bag of habanero potato chips (yes they make these things in North America) and the two of us sat there, eyes watering till the end (and loving every minute of it). I wasn’t sure what you meant about not using olive oil because of the heat… would love to hear more. So… how hot did you find this paste (did you go through a whole box of tissue whilst eating your omelet? 😉 ) .

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. Actually I’ve just had some goat cheese on bread with a dollop of this paste… It’s soo good but so hot! Habanero chips sound fantastic! I see you have experienced the addictive side of capsaicine… I got so hooked on chilli that now I take some spicy seasoning whenever I leave for a couple of days, just in case I crave it (and I always do!) and there is nothing similar available (in France especially it’s quite frequent).
      I will update the part about the olive oil: I have made a tiny batch with olive oil and found it really pity because with the strength of habanero’s heat and its strong aroma, the olive oil’s delicate flavours are barely recognisable. It’s better with peanut oil and I’m testing today with coconut oil which I love for frying… (I’ve just bought another huge bag of habaneros and cayenne peppers, so it’s preserving weekend again).

  2. The best thing about habanero is the flavor. I LOVE the flavor but it’s so hard to get past the heat of it. As you stress….it’s really, really HOT! 🙂 This is such a great solution! A little bit goes a long way – you get the flavor and can better control the heat. LOVE THIS! BTW – have you ever had habanero stuffed green olives? HOT, but killer olives! I can see putting a little bit of this paste on some green olives, taking a bite and making my mouth very, very happy. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, MJ. I’m glad you like habaneros too! Wow! Habanero stuffed olives sound amazing. Our nearest supermarket sells under their own brand jalapeño stuffed olives and we are probably the best buyers of these, so I’m sure the habanero version would be equally appreciated or even more. I have bought some more habaneros on Saturday and pickled some in vinegar (it will be very hot I’m sure, but I hope they’ll lose some of the heat, like medium-hot pickled peppers usually do). I think I’ll make my Mango Sauce with habaneros instead of cayenne peppers. It will be hot, but I hope bearable and very aromatic!

        1. I have already made several jars! It’s really hot, but the taste is sensational! You would love it.

  3. Apparently hot chilli peppers have a variety of health benefits too! And I also have read that some think it can help one lose weight! A slightly contra intuitive benefit is reducing stomach ulcers! Not withstanding, your chilli oil looks amazing; hot peppers are in abundance here too! I’ll have to stop at a farm to pick some up.

    1. Thank you so much, Eva. Since we are both chilli addicts (and have been consuming tons of fiery food for years), I’ve been reading a lot and happily learning about chilli benefits. They do improve metabolism, so maybe it’s linked to the weight loss…

  4. Oh yes. Habanero peppers are flavorful but are extremely hot. Thank you on a great advise regarding washing your hands and all the stuff that you used after handling the peppers. I personally had an unpleasant experience after grinding and adding habanero peppers in a regular salsa. Wishing you a great week, Sissi. 🙂

    1. Thanks a lot, Ray. I keep on repeating it, but sometimes forget to wear gloves if I use only one chilli, but one chilli is enough to put your hands on fire… Have a lovely week too!

      1. There are much hotter chillies than Habaneros,try Scotch bonnets,Trinidad scorpions or nagas. Ahi lemons are as hot as habs and taste of lemons so would be great prepared the same way. Here In England we grow all these chillies.and more but not on the same scale as you in the States.To be able to buy the amounts you seem to be able to would be a dream come true for me.

        1. Hi Pisceaomorika, thank you for the comment. I don’t live in the US, but in Switzerland and I buy all my chillies here or in nearby France.

  5. Sorry Sissi, I assumed that you lived in the States but I should have noticed that your ingredients are measured in spoons and not cups.Habaneros have a lovely apricot flavour if you can stand the extreme heat.

    1. No problem! I try to put grams and cups too because most readers come from the US, but I hope that spoons are internationally accepted. I also love their flavour and scent. My recent mango and habanero sauce is irresistible! I will probably post it next year (I think many people no longer have access to fresh chillies in October).

  6. Hi Sissi, my chillies are very late this year,I still have loads of green ones.My Aji Lemons are just started to ripen as are my Scotch Bonnets andScorpions,My Thai chilli plants are loaded with green ones but if they haven’t started to ripen by the end of October I will have to make a green chilli paste with them or freeze them.My red chilli paste made with fresh chillies and white wine vinegar will last at least six months in the fridge,Easy to make, just blitz fresh chillies in a blender and add enough wine vinegar to make a slush.put the lid on the jar and they will keep in the fridge.ideal for any dish that requires chopped chillies.

    1. To be frank, I also have some chillies on my humble balcony garden and my organic stall still sells them, but in theory the season is over… I’m now preparing so many chilli preserves too… fermented, vinegared, long-term, short-term… I dry themù of course and also freeze some just to see how they “behave” defrosted.

  7. Hi Sissi,thanks for the reply, I find chillies freeze very well.I also dry them and then they last for ages.

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