Help Me ! What Do I Do To Preserve All These Chillies ?
OK. You've managed to grow a successful crop of chillies for yourself but now you have a problem. Well, not really a problem; more a challenge.
What can I do to preserve my chillies so that I can use them all year round ?
Fortunately people have been faced with this problem for thousands of years. As a result there are a number of solutions that you can use. Some of them ancient, some of them quite modern.
The next few pages will examine in a reasonable amount of detail what options are available to you and which ones work best for the different varieties.
However, before you start, there are a few basics that I need to cover to help you get the most out of your garden and the harvested fruit.
- It is universally agreed that the best approach to harvesting your chillies is what is known as a 'staggered harvest'. That doesn't mean it involves alcohol. What it means is that you harvest the chillies a number of times throughout the growing season.
This will ensure you maximise the production from your plants. If the chillies are left on, the plant believes it has achieved it's reproductive goals and few new fruit will be produced.
Staggered harvesting ensures that the plant 'keeps on trying' for the full length of the growing season.
- Unless you are specifically after green chillies, the best approach is to harvest ripe fruit with tight, shiny skins that are firm to the touch. Fruit that are ready should come off the plant easily. If you need to use any force it's probably best to leave it a few days before trying again.
- Give the fruit a wash and have a second look to weed out any fruit that are not acceptable.
- Start thinking about which of the below processes are best for you. Check on the individual page that the varieties you wish to preserve are suitable for the technique you are thinking of using.
The first technique we will look at is drying
, of which there are 3 variations;
The next technique is the simple one of freezing your chillies. While there is certainly nothing complex about this process, there are a couple of tips that will help you get the most out of it.
Next we look at smoking your chillies to make your own chipotles (pronounced chi-pote-lays) which are my absolute favourite chilli product.
Then I'll go through the process of pickling your chillies which leads nicely into the next subject.
Finally, we take a good look at bottling your chillies in glass jars. There are other names for this process such as canning, jarring, and water-bath canning. I'm old enough to remember my grandparents, and even my Mum, using the old Fowlers Vacola preserving kit to bottle all sorts of fruit and vegetables. I've even dabbled with this myself and can therefore talk about it with a fair degree of confidence.