Make your own chili powder

23 11 2010

A number of years ago I found myself getting increasingly fed up with shop bought chili powder.

Unless you go to a specialist shop it is just not a particularly good product; some chili powders have no heat what so ever even if they are labelled as being hot, some have no flavour to them at all and many of them are adulterated with colourants and additives which are just unneccessary.

So I started making my own, now I am able to have different blends or mixes made up ready for certain recipes and have complete control over what goes into my chili powders, their flavours and levels of heat.

You can also make rubs and seasoning blends in advance by mixing in the required herbs and seeds.

Because I tend to get through quite a lot of chili powder I make fairly large batches at any one point but you can make as much or as little as you wish.

You will need to ensure that you are using dried chilies or if not you are going to end up with a paste as opposed to a powder.

If you aren’t able to find the variety of chili that you want in a dried form you can but them fresh and dry them yourself, or even better grow your own chilies.

In order to dry your chilies you will need to remove the stems and the seeds from the chili and flatten out the pieces.

Place these onto a dry baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 5 or 6 minutes before checking them. Smaller less fleshy pieces will dry out quicker and can be removed before returning the larger pieces to the oven for a further 5 minutes.

Once all of the pieces of chili are nice and crisp break them into  smaller section and pop them in a blender or better yet a spice grinder, pulse the chilies for afew seconds until you are left with a powder.

Hopefully you will notice that the colour of your chili powder is far deeper and that the aroma and flavour are far stronger and less artificial.

Store your chili powder  out of direct sunlight in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.





Home made pickled onions

19 05 2010

Ok well I have mentioned pickled onions before and now I have decided to impart upon you all my own method for making these delcious treats.

You will find some books/sites/people etc that will tell you that you have to brine the onions first and that the reason behind this is to help keep the onions crisp.

I am willing to go out on a limb on this and declare shenanigans.

Any time I have made pickled onions and brined them first they actually ended up being soggier than when I don’t brine them.  I asked an old friend of mine who also pickles things, too many things if I’m honest, and he agrees with me that the brining is really surplus to requirements and that in over 40 years of pickling he has never seen the need.

So here we go then, first things first you need the right onions, personally for me it has to be silverskins, they are the right size have a nice natural sweetness to them that goes well with the acidity of the vinegar. If you  want larger pickled onions or just can’t get silverskins then I would use small to medium sized shallots and just top and tail them to make them slightly rounder in profile.

Although I have before had some pickled onions that weren’t peeled I would never ever make these myself, it is fiddly and pointless for the person eating them, don’t be lazy peel the onions yourself!

For the viengar I find that it has to be proper dark malt vinegar, it is the only vinegar that gives that proper pub/chip shop counter taste that I look for in my pickled onions, or eggs for that matter. That said I have recently tried mixing things up a bit and have settled on a 80/20 mix of malt vinegar to good balsamic vinegar that is really very pleasant.

A quick note about the spices used, the measures given aren’t exact and really and truly it is a personal thing as to how much you want to add of something, if you like a hotter flavour add more chillis, if you want it sweeter add some sugar, you will know when it tastes right to you.

*all spice amounts are based on 1 litre of vinegar being used*

Onions

1 litre of vinegar for every kilo of onions – final weight of onions will be less after peeling etc

2 bay leaves

1 handful of mustard seeds

1 hadful of black peppercorns

4 pieces of star anise

peel of one orange

2 cinammon sticks

half handful of cloves

2 cloves of garlic

4 dried red chillies

1/2 nutmeg grated

1/2 handful of pimento berries/all spice berries

Add all the spices to the vinegar and simmer on a medium heat for about 5/10 minutes, this is really just to help the flavours infuse into the vinegar.

Whilst the vinegar is simmering pack the onions into jar that have been well sterilised. This means that the jar AND the lid have eiather been boiled or if you are lazy you can run them through the dish washer by themselves.

Once the vinegar has cooled pour it into the jars over the onions, fill to the brim and seal the jars. It doesn’t matter if you end up with chillies or bay leaves or cloves etc in the jars, in my view the more the merrier!

Wipe your jars down and make sure they are sufficiently clean.

Place in a cool dark place and forget about your pickled onions for at least 1 month,  I personally leave mine for 2 months minimum.

When they are ready open and enjoy 🙂








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