Preserved Chillies in Oil are an ideal way to enhance the flavour of a dish. I regularly make a batch, as I go through them so quickly!
The heat from the preserved chillies will depend on the variety you choose. I always buy the long, slender red chilli, and these generally have a deep warmth without an overt hit.
The heat of the chillies does seem to vary according to the seasons, but even when they are very mild they add a beautiful flavour.
Inspiration for the Preserved Chillies in Oil:
I first came across this style of chilli some years ago at our favourite pizza restaurant. The owner had a personal jar of preserved chillies, his own personal stash.
Knowing how much I enjoyed them, he brought them out whenever we dined there. This pleased him immensely, and his family had been making this style of chilli for generations.
I asked how they preserved the chillies and received some very vague instructions. There was, of course, no actual recipe, just an outline of what they did, so I interpreted and adapted this as best I could and was delighted with the result.
I have now been making these for many years, always having a jar on hand and finding them a useful accompaniment to roast meats, pasta or pizza.
It pleases me very much to be able to pass on the inspiration for this recipe to you also – the chillies are an absolute delight.
Ingredients in the Preserved Chillies in Oil:
Long Red Chillies:
The heat from the preserved chillies will depend on the variety that you choose. I always buy the long, slender, red chillies and these generally have a deep warmth without an overt hit.
The heat of the chillies does seem to vary according to the seasons, but even when they are very mild, they add a beautiful flavour. If you prefer very hot chillies you may like to add a couple of fiery, smaller chillies to your mixture.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil:
Extra virgin olive oil is the finest quality olive oil. It is naturally extracted by crushing the olives; crushing the olives releases their oil.
Wikipedia advises that this ancient practice has been in use since the Greeks began pressing olives over 5,000 years ago. Some lower quality oils are made using heat or chemicals to assist with the extraction of the olive oil.
I prefer to use extra virgin olive oil for the extra flavour it provides. In addition, it is at the heart of the much-praised Mediterranean Diet being an excellent source of healthy fat and health-benefiting antioxidants.
For the vinegar brine, I use coarse kitchen salt, not fine table salt. This may also be known as kosher salt.
Distilled white vinegar is often recommended for pickles and preserves. However, you can also use white wine vinegar. They each will have an acidity content of around 5% and when combined with the salt assist in the preservation of the chillies.
How to Make the Preserved Chillies in Oil:
I carefully wash and dry the chillies thoroughly and remove the stalks. I then finely slice the chillies, seeds included.
In a non-reactive bowl (ie: glass or ceramic), I place the chillies. I then prepare a vinegar and salt brine, and cover the chillies with it.
The chillies sit in a vinegar and salt bath for 24 hours which removes some of their moisture and assists with the preservation.
After that time, they are drained, packed into a sterilised jar and completely covered with olive oil. It’s that simple.
They seem to last indefinitely as long as they remain covered with oil, but mine do not last that long.
Tips for Success:
It is important to select firm, brightly coloured, fresh chillies. They should have shiny skins without blemishes. Do not select any with wrinkled skin or soft spots.
Whilst long, red chillies are generally of mild-moderate heat, this is not always the case. For this reason, I recommend that you wear food-safe, disposable gloves when handling the chillies.
Avoid touching your face or eyes as the active ingredient, capsaicin, can irritate the skin and cause burning. Discard your used gloves and carefully wash your cutting board and knife.
Wash the chillies thoroughly in cold water and carefully dry them on a kitchen towel, before slicing them and placing in the vinegar brine.
It is important to soak the chillies at least 24 hours. On occasion, I have left them in the brine for 48 hours without ill effect. The acidic vinegar and the salt are the preserving agents in this recipe.
For freshness and to maintain a vivid colour, I prefer to make the batch size as specified. After topping the brined chillies with olive oil, wait for a few minutes. There will be some air pockets and the oil will drain further. Top up with extra oil if necessary.
To prevent the growth of bacteria, place the brined and drained chillies into a sterilised glass jar. Details for sterilising the jar are in the recipe below.
When it comes to serving the Preserved Chillies in Oil:
This recipe for Preserved Chillies in Oil will enable you to enjoy their spiciness all year. It is an easily prepared condiment which is a great addition to many dishes.
In fact, I have even been known to add it to my breakfast toast with tomato or mashed avocado.
It is delicious on top of pizza or pasta, salads, meat and vegetables.
More suggestions for these ingredients:
Long red chillies feature in these tasty recipes:
- Sweet Chilli Sauce
- Roasted Mediterranean Olives
- Baked Feta with Olives and Rosemary
- Tomato Chili Jam by Another Food Blogger
Other fantastic edible gift ideas:
Preserved Chillies in Oil make the perfect gift!
Here are some more ideas that work well:
Enjoy these delicious Preserved Chillies in Oil. I would love to know what you think in the comments below!
Preserved Chillies in Oil
- 200 gm long red chillies * stem and end removed
- 30 gm cooking salt *
- 1 1/2 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
- 1 cup olive oil extra virgin
To Sterilise the Jars:
- Choose glass jars with an airtight, metal lid and ensure they have been washed by hand in hot soapy water then rinsed well. Check that the metal lids do not have rubber inserts.
Preheat the oven to 130 Degrees C (270 F).
Place upright jars and lids on a baking tray. Heat in the oven for at least 20 minutes, then remove and allow to cool before filling.
- Finely slice the long red chillies, seeds included. You may like to wear disposable gloves*.
- Place chillies into a non-reactive bowl, ie, glass or ceramic.Cover with a vinegar and salt brine, using a ratio of 20 gm of salt to 1 cup of vinegar.*Stir well, cover and leave for 24 hours.
- Drain well, place the chillies in a sterilised glass jar and cover with extra virgin olive oil. *
- There will be some air pockets; wait until the oil has settled, you may need a little extra.The chillies will last for about 3 months, but are best consumed within the first 2 as they do soften in texture the longer they sit in the oil.