One of the questions that we received from our readers is ‘What to do with the over-abundance of hot peppers I grew in my garden?’ This is a great problem to have.
Chilis are great to grow, but it's easy to grow far more than you can eat when they're ripe. They can be dried, preserved and turned into delicious condiments. First, let’s start from fresh to dry.
Frozen: Fortunately, Thai chili peppers freeze really well. I wash the peppers and air dry (or even wipe with soft cloth) to get rid of the moisture. Freeze with stem intact in a freezer bag. It’s good for a year. After a year, they seem to lose the heat. When you are ready to use them, slice or cut while they are still frozen. Otherwise, prepare just like it’s fresh.
Make green curry paste while you still have the fresh green hot peppers and green leaves. The curry paste is good for a year in a freezer.
For the large peppers like jalapenos, slice and pickle in vinegar. You can keep this for a pretty long time. Serve as a condiment for noodle dishes.
Red Chili Sauces at noodle shops:
Make your own red chili sauce. Grind up red (not so hot) peppers with garlic and salt. Add vinegar to the mix. You can keep this sauce in the fridge for many months.
The sauce is also a great base for dipping sauce, like chicken dipping sauce or wonton dipping sauce.
Dry them…dry them with stems!
Dry your peppers in the sun or oven (over lowest heat setting and leave the door ajar). It takes about one week to completely sun dry the little ones. The larger ones will require longer time. These completely dried peppers are good for a year or more in a pantry.
After drying, the little fiery hot can be used in so many different ways. Fry them (with stem, please), accompanying many Thai dishes. Or just to have as condiment on your table.
Make curry pastes. Almost all of the curry pastes require dried peppers. Make various chili paste like masaman curry paste, red curry paste, gang gari curry paste and panang curry paste.
Dry toast the peppers with the stems in a pan. Stir often to get even browning and prevent burning. When they are cooled, remove the stems and grind up the peppers. Store the ground pepper in a jar, keep in pantry.
The dried ground peppers are great for Thai cooking or as a condiment on the table. Another method is frying with small (very small) amount of oil. Grind them when cooled. Keep in a jar in pantry. It’s a great condiment to noodles.
Make chili paste for tom yum goong and other dishes. Grill over stove or roast in the oven, dried chili peppers, garlic, shallot and shrimp paste. Ground the mixture and slowly fry in oil. Add fish sauce, sugar and tamarind paste. Keep the chili paste in a jar for a year.