It is scorching hot in Manhattan, Kansas today. It was 97 degrees by noon and 107 in our yard at 5 pm (According to the weather service our official high was 101). So who could ask for a better day to write about hot peppers? In the little container garden on my “back porch”, I grow Chenzo and Burning Bush Habañero peppers. Chenzos have a rating of 45,000 scoville heat units (which is quite hot) while Habañeros are even hotter at 100,000 – 350,000 s.h.u. To put this in perspective, jalapeños rate 2,500 – 8,000 s.h.u.
When I picked my first bunch of Chenzos a few weeks ago, I tied them into a small ristra and hung them off the back porch to dry. It took about two and a half weeks for them to be ready to bring in. Of course, we were having cooler nights then. With our current temperatures, they would probably dry more quickly. I will use the dried peppers in chilis and rubs for grilling.
I decided to do something different with the peppers that I picked today, so I made several bottles of Garlic Chili Lemon Oil. This can be used as a dipping oil with bread or tortillas, can be added to chilis, soups, pasta dishes, and salad dressing. If you decide to make your own flavored oils, be sure to sterilize fresh ingredients such as garlic either by heating them or acidifying them as the oil seals out oxygen and can easily lead to botulism growth. We want everyone to be able to eat safely!
What are your favorite ways to use hot chili peppers? It would be great to hear from you!