Monday, November 2, 2009

Storing Chillis - Part 2 Pickling

The first part of these articles dealt with freezing which is probably the simplest way to store your chillis. However, eventually you are likely to run out of space in the freezer (for some reason things such as vegetables and meat take precedence) and you will need to look at other ways of storing and preserving them. In this article we look at pickling. This does require more work than freezing or drying (coming later) but does allow the fruit to be stored in more convenient locations.

Pickling chillis requires care and attention to cleanliness as with any similar process. We have tried three ways of pickling, the first result was not as good as we thought that it would be although it was cheap. The pickling liquid was simply salt and sugar dissolved in water, about 2 teaspoons of each to each half pint of water, method as below. The result was a little sour and salty but the essence (i.e. heat and quality of fruit) was preserved. In fact, if anything, the heat of the chillis was enhanced.

The second attempt used 1 teaspoonful of salt and one of sugar to each half pint of brown malt pickling vinegar (Sarsons) as well as about 4 tablespoons of olive oil. This time the result was more aceptable although the vinegar taste was a little overwhelming and we do not think that the oil contributed anything to the result.

The next attempt used white vinegar instead of brown, diluted 50% with water, no oil, one teaspoonful of salt and one of sugar to each half pint of diluted vinegar. This seems to have worked well and will form the basis of future experiments.

The method used was to clean the chillis by washing in cold water, patting them dry with kitchen paper and then packing them as tightly as possible into the jar. We used a clean second hand Hellemanns mayonnaise jar as it has a wide mouth and will hold plenty of fruit. The liquid mix was heated in a saucepan until it was simmering nicely and then poured into the jar leaving a small gap at the top.

The whole jar was then placed in a microwave oven and heated at 25% power (800w oven) for 10 minutes. This process was carefully monitored and paused at intervals to prevent the liquid boiling over and we also topped up the liquid to maintain about a 1/4" (0.6 cm) air gap at the top as the air was expelled from the mixture.

When complete, the lid was placed loosely over the jar until it had cooled just sufficently to be handled (with care, still hot) and then the lid was tightened down. As the jar cooled to room temperature the "safety dimple" popped down leaving the contents safe.

Drying, Pastes and Chutneys - we will report back on this soon as we are still experimenting!

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