Source: Rochelle 2015
The love of spice
Red hot spicy oil on my dinner or lunch table is as common for us as salt or pepper. We’re a family who love spicy food. Every opportunity to buy seriously hot and spicy peppers, we never hesitate. As a result, I’m always in pursuit of a spicy topper oil or powder, but have yet to be impressed, until now of course.
While browsing the aisles of a local farmer’s market in Switzerland, I stumbled upon a vendor who specializes in hot, hot, hot peppers. Without hesitation, I scooped them up, and received a stern warning from the grower himself. Having much experience with peppers and hot ones at that, I wasn’t scared off.
Subsequently, I can still remember fondly, the summer our farmer in Cali, planted a whole entire field of heirloom spicy peppers. That was the summer of fire for me, as I remember my fingers always being on fire. However, being who I am, I’m too lazy to put gloves, and I also don’t want to be shielded from the entire process of peppers, so I dive in, fingers first and spend a day or two with hot, burning finger tips.
It’s said the Ancient people of Mexico founded and expanded the pepper and its varietals over 2,000 years ago. A true gift of discovery and adaptation. With this knowledge of the ancient Aztecs, it almost makes you feel ancient or privileged to be working with such ancient varietals, which is why, I turn my nose up to the standard, common breeds you find at the grocery store. Certainly, I go for the gold here, and have found that in order to really make a true hot spicy oil, you need the fire of the hottest, most intense pepper you can get your hands on.
The Trinidad Scorpion, the 7 Pot are just a few of the spicy pepper varieties I picked up in my local shop. Turns out there’s a rating scale called the Scoville scale.
The Spicy Scale
|Scoville heat units||Peppers|
|800,000 to 3,200,000||Pepper X, Carolina Reaper, Dragon’s Breath (chili pepper), Naga Morich|
|350,000 to 800,000||Red Savina pepper, Chocolate habanero|
|100,000 to 350,000||Habanero, Scotch Bonnet|
|10,000 to 100,000||Malagueta pepper, Cayenne pepper|
|1,000 to 10,000||Guajillo chili, Jalapeño|
|100 to 1,000||Banana pepper, Cubanelle|
|0 to 100||Bell pepper, Pimento|
The units or scale ranges from 0 to 3 mil., all based on the intensity of the little seeds which produce the heat. My little babies are sitting at around 800,000 units, so they are up there on the fire scale!
As I mentioned, we love spice in our family. Not surprisingly, we go through bottles of cayenne, and whenever we have pizza, I usually make a garlic spicy oil to drizzle on top. Craving for some more heat, when I found these peppers I knew it was time to make my own spicy oil. But, it had to last longer than a day.
In past experiences, my oils have spoiled…but it was due to my process. As a result, I figured out that like the herbs, you need to dry them first before you make a tincture or make an oil of them. It’s very easy to follow these 3 simple steps to achieve your off the scale, spicy hot oil.
Get the peppers you need. Do a bit of research to see what degree of heat you are willing to try. For me, it’s the hotter the better, or even better, anything hot will do.
Rinse the peppers. Once they are dry, then slice them. Be careful though, these hot little numbers will trigger the sinuses. Expect eye burning, finger burning and some sneezing to accompany your task. If you desire, wear kitchen gloves for this to protect your fingers from a days worth of burning.
Spread your cut up peppers and seeds out-they are full of oils and will take a while to dry. Set them aside in a quiet corner, or if you have plenty of dry sunshine, place them out in the sun, but bring them in at night.
When completely dry, pour your cuttings into a jar of oil (I go with organic olive oil) label “hot” and store. Use as a dribble on top of your favorite dishes, or into sauces, or dips.