Chilies are perishable; to store them for the long-term, there are specific preservation techniques to apply. The scotch bonnet is endemic to the Caribbean; you’d rarely see it in other regions.
Well, you can always buy scotch bonnets from online stores. But you can’t always order for this chili all the time you need it, and thus, you may be compelled to look out for how to preserve Scotch Bonnet peppers.
You can pickle scotch bonnets; they’d last up to six months or more through pickling. There are other ways to preserve your chilies for long-term use, such as air-drying and freezing them.
This article details the different possible ways to store Caribbean Red Peppers.
How to Preserve Scotch Bonnet Peppers
Firstly, it is essential to note that scotch bonnets are classified as “Hot” peppers because of their SHU rating. Thus, you have to be careful when using or touching them.
It is advisable to wear hand gloves all the while you’re preparing hot chilies for preservation. That said, below are the prerequisite gears and items you need to preserve scotch bonnet peppers for long-term use.
- A pair of hand gloves
- Sizeable jar for the pepper or a tray
- Pickling salt or sea salt
- Sugar and garlic (optional)
Method 1: Pickling
This is typically the commonest way many people preserve their chilies. Pickling is a universal scotch bonnet preservation method practiced by chefs and house users.
Through this method, you can store chilies for over six months, and they’d still be looking fresh when you need to use them again.
How does the pickling method work?
Below are the steps to preserve scotch bonnets through the pickling method.
- Wear hand gloves and wash the peppers in a salty water
- Mix salt/sugar, water, and vinegar
- Add garlic to the mix
- Steam the blend (don’t allow it to boil)
- Pour the scotch bonnets pepper into jars and pour in the warm water
- Close tightly and store inside the refrigerator
Method 2: Air Dry
If the pickling process seems complicated, you can air your scotch bonnets to store them for long-term use. Air drying chilies do not require many procedures; however, you still need to protect your hands.
There are basically three ways of drying hot peppers like scotch bonnets and habaneros.
You can use the traditional method (putting it out in the sun to dry naturally in the open air), the oven drying method (done inside the kitchen using an oven), or the food-dehydrator method.
When you dry scotch bonnets, they can last for months or even years. More so, you can grind dry chilies to form chili powder. Chilies in powdered form can stay for as long as possible.
However, before drying chilies, you need to wash them with warm, salty water, spray them on a tray, and then take them out for air drying.
Or, if you’re using an oven, reduce the temperatures to about 150 degrees. Whichever method you use, remember to always turn the chilies side by side at intervals.
Method 3: Freezing/Refrigerating
Another popular way to store chilies over the long term is by refrigerating them. This way, the chilies would retain their flavor and heat. Freezing chilies does not require additional tools; all you need is a refrigerator.
More so, before adding scotch bonnets to your refrigerator, you should wash them and slice them (if you wish).
You can cut them into any shape or size; that’s not the problem; the main thing is to keep the refrigerator temperature in check.
You’d also need to put the scotch bonnets into small containers before adding them to the freezer or refrigerator. Frozen hot peppers can stay for up to two months and still look fresh.
Tip: Dry your scotch bonnets before freezing them inside a container. Also, ensure to put on hand gloves all the while you’re touching scotch bonnets; they are very hot and can cause serious irritation if you touch them with bare hands.
Importantly, there are two ways to store your chilies with this method. If you’re putting the chilies directly into your refrigerator, that means you’re only trying to store them for short term.
For long-term storage (up to two months or a full season), use Ziploc Freezer bags. After prepping and putting the scotch bonnets into Ziploc freezer bags, you can put them into your freezer for long-term storage.
These are all safe methods on how to preserve scotch bonnets and other hot peppers too. There are other ways chefs preserve their hot peppers; some prepare scotch bonnet sauces and keep them in check.