Chillies play a massive role in hundreds of countries and thousands of cuisines. They’re low maintenance and very versatile so we thought it might be fun to explore chilli preservation. We think this might come a little extra handy in a post-coronavirus world where we want to eke out every bit of life from our food. Here’s a short, quick guide on how to buy, handle and store chillies!
Taking Care Of Your Chillies
For all the spice enthusiasts out there (#NaaginNation ICU!), here’s some titbits that should help you plan your next Egg Kejriwal or generous portion of Vindaloo! Not your style? Enter spicy dish of choice.
If you’ve ever landed up in a vegetable market, you would probably agree that buying any fresh produce – however simple that may sound, is an art. Picking the freshest and tastiest ones takes time (on the day) and experience (over weeks and months). So why bother? There’s simply no way you can make a good dish from bad ingredients. That’s why. So, let’s call that Step 1.
Step 2 is when you can take care of your produce, handle it well and store it properly so it stays fresh until you’re ready to chow down!
Know Your Chillies
We’re looking to buy, handle and store chillies here but let’s start with the first one – BUY.
While looking to buy chillies, for example, you need to look out for ones that are bright and vividly colored and have a firm, tight skin. Those with wrinkled, soft and bruised skin can go bad much before the strong and firm skinned ones.
Buying Fresh Chillies – As much as possible, try to ensure that they’re firm but smooth. Once they wrinkle and age, they lose that fresh flavour and develop an earthy taste.
Buying Dried Chillies – As a rule of thumb, try and buy these loose and not packaged. Pick the ones that are a little flexible and not dried to a firm crisp. You’ll need to pay attention here because what you don’t want are damp chillies in the name of ‘fresh dried chillies’.
Increasing Chilli Shelf-life
Have you ever bought a ton of chillies, but you start seeing them go bad before you’ve done the whole pile justice? A little nugget for you here on how to STORE chillies. Even if it’s not you who did the buying, here’s some useful information:
- Fish may rot from the head down, but chillies rot from the stem up. Pluck those bad boys and store your chillies in a zip lock bag in the refrigerator for an extra few days!
- An air-tight container with multiple layers of kitchen towels (to gather moisture) could give you 3 weeks or more
- The last suggestion we have here is to pack the chillies in aluminium foil before freezing and place them in an air-tight container. You could get up to 2 months with this little trick!
Beware Of (Toxic) Behavior
Chillies come in all sizes, shapes and types. And it is wise to take precautions when you HANDLE some of the more intense chillies, such as our very own beloved Bhut Jolokia. Some chillies not only require careful inspection before buying but also careful handling since they can cause irritation to the skin and eyes.
Note: One of our co-founders accidentally rubbed his face while handling bhut jolokia chilli oil and paid the price in more ways than one. For 15 minutes we watched him contorting his face under the sink to get a steady stream of water on his eyes.
The moral of the story? Respect your chillies, use gloves when required and avoid touching the eyes, face or any other part of the body after interactions with the hotter chillies.
Don’t rub your eyes.
Did You Know?
Do you know someone who is ‘addicted’ to spicy food? Do you find yourself not being able to stop eating, even when the burn is making you sweat? There’s no reason for you to continue but you just keep doing it. We all do.
It’s not technically an addiction but chillies and other spicy peppers produce a chemical called capsaicinoids to protect themselves from animals.Unfortunately,Fortunately, all this does is send a beautiful rush of endorphins and dopamine through your body that keeps you coming back for more. So there you have it, our basic walk-through on how to buy, handle and store chillies!