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Preserving serrano chiles -- pickling maybe?

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Although I only have one plant, I'm swimming in serrano chiles just now ready to pick. Any ideas how to preserve them?

Something makes me think that freezing them would blacken and blemish them and compromise texture, but I haven't tried it.

I wonder if there is a pickling method that renders them a useful product in the longer term? Or maybe it's time to make some chutney for future Indian cooking?

I'm also swimming in Thai chiles, by the way, but I usually do fine just letting them go to red and then dry on the countertop. Something about being at the red stage makes them not spoil. But I expect that the same is not true of the fleshier serranos...

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  1. Freezing WILL do a number on the texture (I still have some in the freezer from last year)--they are usable (and I used them in a BBQ sauce which was cooked, so crispness wasn't an issue). Pickling is a great option and I pickled some last year as well (didn't plant any this year). You could dry them too--I hung some in my garage and they dried (mine weren't particularly thick-skinned though).

    1 Reply
    1. re: nofunlatte

      I froze a whole lot of them last year and was really pleased with the result. If you use them in guacamole or pico de gallo, or other salsas the texture isn't really an issue. I am more conerned with the flavor, and pickling or drying alters the taste too much.

      All you have to do is line a sheet pan with parchment and place them on it in a single layer. Freeze them that way, and then you can store them in a ziplock bag. When you need one or two, just take them out an hour before using them to defrost. I can't believe how handy and, well, 'acceptable' this solution was, and I'll be doing it in years to come.

    2. I just made a batch of giardiniera so it’s been on my mind. It’s a spicy pepper dressing that’s used on Chicago Italian beef sandwiches. Combine:

      3 parts serranos cut into rounds

      1 part carrot, chopped

      1 part cauliflower, chopped

      1 part celery, chopped

      1 part green olives, whole

      3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced

      Season with dried oregano, black pepper, and celery salt, and combine in a jar with a very salty white vinegar brine. After 2 – 3 days pour out most of the vinegar, taste the mixture, and rinse or reseason if needed. Refill the jar with vegetable oil or cheap olive oil and let sit in the refrigerator for 2 – 3 more days. It’s great on sandwiches, as a pizza topping, or simply on some fresh-baked bread with some of the spicy oil drizzled over it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: RealMenJulienne

        I'd def. follow RMJ recipe above with a chile surplus. While freezing won't harm the peppers it only puts off their inevitable use. Smarter (imho) to prepare them and enjoy them over time.

      2. I have the same problem with jalepenos currently so I usually make batches of Emeril Lagasse's Piri Piri sauce.

        I usually cut back on the olive oil and remove the stems, but keep the seeds and skins.
        I also store it in the refridgerator where it keeps several months.

        Great on steaks and chicken and also good as a salsa in tacos and burritos. Can lso be used as a maridande.
        Warning tho, it usually is very hot, so use carefully. :)

        Piri Piri

        1 1/2 cups olive oil
        4 fresh jalapeno peppers, coarsely chopped,
        stems, seeds, and all
        2 fresh poblano peppers, coarsely chopped,
        stems, seeds and all
        1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
        1 teaspoon salt
        8 turns freshly ground black pepper
        1 tablespoon minced garlic

        1. Combine all ingredients except the garlic in a saucepan over high heat. Cook, stirring, for 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, remove
        from the heat, and allow to cool to room temperature.
        2. When the mixture is cool, pour it into the bowl of a food processor and pulse 16 times. Pour the sauce through a funnel
        into a clean wine or other bottle and cover with a piece of
        plastic wrap. Allow to sit for 7 days before using. Keeps up
        to 2 months at room temperature.

        Used as a marinade:
        http://labellecuisine.com/archives/su...

        1 Reply
        1. re: jjjrfoodie

          All of the peppers freeze fine- they will only be good in cooked dishes. If you plan to seed them or roast them, you should do it first. Freezing them on a sheet is a good idea, but you can usually get away with just throwing them in a bag. They seem to have a natural antifreeze- they usually thaw enough to cut in a few seconds.

        2. Thanks for all these terrific suggestions.

          Sounds as if freezing them might be workable, as what I most often do with serranos is cut them in half lengthwise to infuse olive oil with chile-heat when making sauces for pasta.

          But these suggestions have me thinking I will try two or three different approaches.

          1. I grow a variety of hot peppers and have had good luck pickling jalapeños and serranos by simply washing and slicing them and covering them with white vinegar. They probably only keep well for months, not years like heat-canned pickles, but that's as long as they're likely to last in my house anyway.

            1. I'm interested, too, 'cause I have a bumper crop of habaneros and bhut jolokias. Will make some into firey jam, but pickling sounds good, too. Thanks for all the ideas!

              1. I find that roasting them or even charring them in an iron skillet and then freezing them requires little effort and makes them salsa ready anytime you need them.