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chili oil

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I'm looking for advice on storing homemade chili oil. I make it by dry-frying a mixture of crushed red peppers, including seeds, and Sichuan peppercorns, then heating that mixture in peanut oil until approximately 225F, and then cooling and putting it in a jar. My questions:

1. Is it OK to leave the spices in the oil or do I have to strain them out? The only reason I would want to strain them is to prolong the shelf-life of the oil -- I'm not worried about the oil getting too hot if the spices stay in because the hotter the better.

2. Can the oil stay at room temperature or should it be in the refrigerator? How long will it last in each location?

Thanks.

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  1. I make about a litre/quart at a time and it lasts me a couple of months on the counter, with spices (I also add some Star Anise).

    1. I have seen it served at asian restrurants and its always at room temprature.

      1. I wouldn't worry about refrigerating it, the chilies will kill anything :)
        I've kept homemade chili oil in the cabinet for months with no problems.

        1. I grow a variety of chiles (Red Savinas, chocolate habaneros, Kung Pao hybrids, serranos, etc.) in a small garden when the weather permits (it's blowing and snowing in Southeastern PA right now). I process the pods in extra virgin olive oil when the pods ripe and keep them in glass jars.

          I refrigerate the jars of processed chiles. The oil is used in cooking as the pods are used for other purposes and the oil is available.

          1. If the peppers have been dried you should be fine at room temp. If they still have some moisture I would be a bit worried, not about spoilage but about botulism. Check to see if your temp is high enough to kill C botulinim (I am fahrenheit challenged).

            3 Replies
            1. re: pepper_mil

              I, too, am freakishly concerned about botulism as it cannot be detected by sight or smell. Herb infused vinegars do not pose this problem as they are acidic. Oil is not and if you choose to make your own infusions whether they are herb or chile, I would suggest heating the oil to a temperature at which botulism is killed just before consuming it. I don't know what that temperature is though so I can't be specific. Commercial flavored oils have ascorbic or citric acid added.

              1. re: ETRIXIE

                Id be more concerned with the oil going rancid at room temperature with exposure to air than with any spoilage, botulism etc. I suspect the heating of the oil deteriorates it a bit and might make it more vulnerable. Anyway, Ive had chili oil go rancid on my kitchen shelf. next time I make I will refrigerate.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  I think restaurants can keep it on the table at RT because they usually have a higher turnover/usage rate than do home cooks.

                  FYI botulism: The toxin is destroyed by heating for 10 min. at 176 deg. Fahrenheit.

                  But I don't think you have anything to worry about!