222 words on Food
Back when I made the Fennel, Couscous and Fish, I needed some chilis as an ingredient. I first saw some dried chilies and got a pack of those. Later on, I also saw fresh ones and bought those as well.
Having a lot of spare chilies I wondered what to do with them and decided to make chili oil which we had in the pizzeria during our ski holiday. And which was rather nice – yet simple, just having chilies swimming in the oil. And that’s exactly what I tried to do. I bought a bottle of olive oil and dumped some chilies in there. Both of the dried and fresh varieties to be sure at least one of them works.
And now, three weeks later, we have chili oil. Because of my random way of doing this, I have no idea whether the dried or fresh chilies are better for the job, but the oil is a bit spicy now. A first test suggests that having a little of it on spaghetti with pesto is rather nice but that it could be a little spicier. Now I wonder whether I should just wait a few more weeks for that extra spiciness to come out or whether I should just dump some more of the dried chilies into the bottle.
Everytime that I’ve made Chili Oil, I’ve used dried chilis as they were always closest to hand (thanks Mona). But, I’m not sure if you did this, I heat up the oil and then put the chilis in and let it all cook for a few minutes (but not actually burning the chilis!). This has always produced pleasing results, although you need to be careful of the fumes produced - they burn! Having now googled ‘chili oil’ it looks as if a few recipes back me up.
I didn’t cook mine… just threw the chilis in and went on holidays.
Thanks for the hint. I’ll have to try that.
Sorry to post so long after the original post, but as I’ve done a similar random method myself (using just fresh diced chilis), I was wondering how it turned out in the long run. Did the fresh chilis go mouldy or anything? Thank you!
The fresh chilis that were swimming at the top (with a bit in the air) started to look as if they were going mouldy after a while. So I removed them and stuck with the dry chilis only.
Perhaps the method described by Dan with the cooking will kill things enough to avoid the danger of mould. But I’m not sure that the extra cooking is all that good for the oil.
I just dumped 3 mild fresh chillies in a similar bottle of olive oil and it got pretty hot in about 3 days.
I think it’s best to slice the guys so they release the hot stuff. Also I hear the seeds make it hotter but a friend of mine reckons it’s the actual central white bit that diffuse the most of a chili.
Only problem is the constant bubbles that come out not sure why… it pops the lid off…
I use chili pepper flakes, which work faster than whole dried chilies. I guess crumbling dried chilies would work well, too. I heat the oil, but never above the boiling point (under 200 degrees F), then let it cool. Actually frying the chilies will change the flavor, and not for the better.
Be careful using fresh chilies unless the oil is kept refrigerated and used promptly. I don’t know about chilies - they may carry their own protection - but other herbs used for oil infusions, like basil or garlic, can cause food poisoning if improperly stored.
Dried chilis work best for making oil - you don’t need the water in the chilis, you just want the oil from the membrane around the seed (and flavor from the dried fruit itself). You can use red pepper flakes for a milder chili oil, or dried and chopped peppers of any variety (chipotle peppers give a nice smokey flavor). Chili and basil or chili and orange peel both make very nice blends, too.
Just warm the oil up in a pan to about 250 degrees, toss in your dried chilis, stir for a few seconds, and remove from the heat. Let it cool, pour it in a jar. The longer you let it sit that way, the more flavor you’ll get out of your peppers. Just a warning, though - when the chilis hit the hot oil, they will make the air pretty pungent. Be careful.
Something else you can do with leftover chilis - make chili powder. Cover your nose and mouth, put on safety glasses or goggles, and just pulverize them in the food processor. Let the dust settle before you handle them, and wash up well after.
Using fresh chillies presents the issue of time you can keep it. 3 -4 weeks max, in the fridge or you risk botulism.
if you used dried chillies and keep the oil above the chillies you eliminate these risks.
hope that helps.