As you will now if you’ve visited these parts before, I am into preserving at the minute, in particular smoking and drying. When I saw these gorgeous Habaneros on a trip to Whole Foods, I had to bring the best of the bunch home, and since I would never use six Habanero peppers in the time it would take them to get past their prime, I decided to fire up the smoker.
I started by giving them an hour in the stove top smoker, over a mix of pine cones, assorted herbs and tea leaves, dampened with a little water to create the necessary smoke.
Since it’s a hot smoker, the process also cooks the peppers, leaving them soft and fragrant.
I could probably have pureed them up at this stage into a super-potent hot sauce, with the addition of some vinegar and sugar. I decided to go one stage further though, so I’d have Habaneros on demand for a while. I put them in the oven at 100C, with a wooden spoon wedged in the door to leave it open just a crack. This lets out any moisture and humidity, and helps the chilis dry better.
After two hours in the oven, the chilis were mostly dried. Not completely, especially the big one, but on their way. I took the decision to let them finish off drying au natural, just by leaving them out in the air. Now they are preserved! I have this notion to collect and dry lots of different kinds of chilis, and string them together into a ristra, like you see in proper kitchens. I like the idea of having a mix of chilis on hand whenever I fancy them, and being able to hang them up somewhere out of the way instead of trying to find drawer space, which is in increasing demand in the Rock Salt kitchen…
Another thing I could do with them is to make a new batch of ultimate chili powder, trying different ingredients in this one. Habanero, orange and rosemary, maybe? That’s just off the top of my head, you understand.
What do you think? What would you use smoked and dried chilis for?