Monday, 20 August 2012

Easy hostess/host gift: self-made chili vinegar or chili oil

Self-made chili vinegar

Ok, so this one isn't about baking and doesn't invole an oven in any kind. But, meh, who cares.
I was invited for dinner to a friend's place and usually I don't like turning up to stuff like that empty-handed, especially if I suspect the person may have put some effort in having me over (she did, it was delicious and a lovely evening - so I was very glad I had prepared something for her).
So this time I turned to Martha for inspiration. I like looking at Martha Stewart's website, I like the style and sometimes they have nice ideas. Yes, sometimes I like to browse the crafts pages, the wedding etiquette pages, the hostess gifts section... Does that make me older than I am? Well, I always suspected that I am a little bit 1950s housewife on the inside.

Anyhow. So. I decided on making chili vinegar, simply because it looked nice, I like spicy stuff myself and, most importantly, I figured I could get the needed ingredients on such short notice (I decided upon a hostess gift some 4 or 5 hours before I was supposed to be there).

It is quite simple. You'll find the original recipe here - it only talks about infusing vinegar but I suspect that chili-infused oil might be just as big a hit.

What you need:

  • pretty bottles
  • enough white vinegar, rice vingar or oil to fill the bottles
  • red, yellow and green chilis - Martha says 20 per half litre, but I used much less, just as many as I could fit in each bottle (six big red ones for the bigger bottle and 4 smaller yellow ones for the much smaller bottle - I think even the bigger one was less than half a litre) (I couldn't find any green ones)
  • decoration as desired 
Oh-oh, careful, hot! ...not just on your tongue, but also on your eyes, nose, and other sensitive body parts.

  • and, secret tip: one-way gloves! Otherwise: ouch. Trust me.

There you go. Much better.

How to do it:

1. Sterilise the bottles by placing them into hot water for ten minutes (make sure the water goes inside the bottles).

2. Contrarily to Martha, I decided to cut the chilis in halves, along their length. Ok, not so much "decided" as "was forced to", since otherwise they wouldn't have fit through the bottle neck. Plus I figured that the infusion would get much hotter this way, because of the sliced cells and the seeds.

3. Once all your chilis are safe and snug in the bottles, bring the vinegar to just boiling, then use a funnel to fill the hot liquid into the bottles.

4. Let cool and cork the bottles. Wait a few days for the flavour and spiciness to unfold. Not sure how long this will keep, but probably quite a while.

So, now the question that is burning (tehehe... burning... pun!) under everyone's nails, I'm sure. Which peppers are hotter - red or yellow? I decided to sacrifice myself in a self-experiment in order to be able to warn my friends who I would present this later to.
In this case (and I'm sure it depends on the different chilis used, etc.), surprisingly, the yellow ones were much, much hotter.
I needed quite a bit of milk to get over it.

Always go for milk or yogurt (or bread) to fit nasty spice heat pain. Why? I've heard it's because the stuff that makes chili taste hot is lipophilic, i.e. soluble in fat, not in water. This means that water cannot "wash the pain away", the stuff that hurts stays put. Something that contains fat does a much better job.

If you've tried infusing things, I'm interested to hear your comments - I think I will go garlic crazy for my next infusion...

Next time there will be some baking, though. Promised.

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