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Processing Fresh Chiles, Part 3: Chile Vinegars and Oils PDF Print E-mail

Infused Vinegars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Dave DeWitt and Paul W. Bosland
Excerpted from The Complete Chile Pepper Book

Chile vinegars are a great way of utilizing some of the chiles that are left after drying, freezing, and pickling your crop. Use these flavored vinegars for marinades, with oil for salad dressings, or to deglaze pans. We have included a couple of recipes, but use your imagination in combining your favorite herbs with chiles and vinegar, using the basic instructions as a guideline.

This is probably the easiest way to put up chiles. Simply pack the chiles and herbs in sterilized jars and cover with the vinegar. Place the jars in a cool, dark place and leave undisturbed for three to four weeks. Strain the mixture. You may speed up the process by heating the vinegar and pouring it over the herbs, which have been chopped and crushed. Let the mixture steep for a couple of days before straining and re bottling.

Rosemary Chile Vinegar

This is our favorite vinegar. Recommended chiles include serranos and habaneros, but it can also be made with dried pasillas for a raisiny flavor. Note: This recipe requires advance preparation.

2 tablespoons minced fresh small chiles
1 cup fresh rosemary leaves
3 cloves garlic
1 quart white vinegar

In jars, cover the chiles, rosemary, and garlic with the vinegar and cover. Place the jars in a cool, dark place and leave the bottles undisturbed for three to four weeks. Strain, pour into clean, sterilized bottles, and label them.

Yield: 1 quart
Heat Scale: Varies

Oregano-Garlic Green Chile Vinegar

The combination of oregano and garlic imparts an Italian flavor to this vinegar, which we keep on the mild side so that the heat doesn't mask the flavor of the garlic. Note: This recipe requires advance preparation.

1 cup fresh oregano leaves
10 peeled garlic cloves, whole
2 fresh green chiles such as serrano or Thai, cut in half length-wise
1 quart white vinegar

Cover the oregano, garlic, and chiles with the vinegar in a large jar. Store in a cool, dark spot and leave the bottles undisturbed for three to four weeks. Strain and pour into clean, sterilized jars.

Yield: 1 quart
Heat Scale: Mild

Chile Oils

Any of the preceding vinegar recipes can also be used to make flavored oils. Be aware that fresh herbs will cloud the oil as they break down, so remove them as soon as the flavor has developed. Basil is the worst offender and will turn black in the oil. If using garlic, thread the cloves on wooden skewers because if a fuzzy haze develops around them, they need to be removed and removing a skewer is easier than removing individual cloves. Do not attempt to preserve fresh chiles or any of the other ingredients  in oil as there is a risk that the jars will develop botulism.

Asian Chile Oil

Bottles of chile oil decorated with ribbons and tiny paper-mache chiles make nice gifts for anyone who likes to cook. Include an oriental stir fry recipe along with each gift bottle. Note: This recipe requires advance preparation.

1 cup small dried red chiles, such as piquins
4 cups vegetable oil, peanut preferred

In a pan, heat the oil to 350 degrees, remove from the heat, and add the chiles.

Cover the pan and let stand for 12 to 24 hours (the longer it steeps, the hotter the oil). Strain the oil into clean, sterilized jars or bottles.

Tie a few dried chiles to the jars for decoration.

Yield: 4 cups
Heat Scale: Hot

Sichuan Ginger Oil

This oil adds a lot of flavor to any dish and especially oriental fare, but don't limit its use. It's also great on a simple salad of mixed greens and bean sprouts. Note: This recipe requires advance preparation.

2 cups vegetable oil, peanut preferred
2 inch piece fresh ginger, sliced
3 inch cinnamon stick
4 small dried red chiles, such as piquin, Thai, or cayenne
1 teaspoon lightly crushed Sichuan peppercorns

Heat the oil to 350 degree in a saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the remaining ingredients, and let the oil cool.

Cover the pan and let stand for 12 to 24 hours (the longer it steeps, the hotter the oil). Strain the oil and pour in clean, sterilized jars.

Yield: 2 cups
Heat Scale: Mild

Piri Piri Oil

This interesting sauce is the Caribbean oil-based variation on the African sauce from Angola, which was transferred to the region by Portuguese immigrants working the cacao plantations in Trinidad and Guyana. Use it to spice up soups and fried fish. Pimento leaves are traditionally used in this recipe, but they are hard to find. Note: This recipe requires advance preparation.

3 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 habanero chiles, cut in half
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 bay leaves

Combine all ingredients in a jar and seal tightly. Place in the refrigerator and let steep for 2 weeks. Remove the top and stir every 2 or days. The longer it steeps, the hotter the sauce will become. Remove the chiles when the heat level is correct.

Yield: 3 cups
Heat Scale: Hot

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