Extracting essential oils from plants is an age-old process. Methods vary depending on the type of plant being extracted. Distillation is the most common practice for aromatic plants and involves a still, steam, pressure and filtering. Solvent extraction is another method. It requires an organic solvent to render the oil from the plant material. Hot peppers, also known as capsicums, produce an oleoresin called capsaicin. The hotter the pepper the more capsaicin present. Solvent extraction is the method used commercially to extract oil from hot peppers. It is fairly easy to duplicate this method at home.
Things You'll Need
- Rubber gloves
- Two glass jars with tight-fitting lids
- Grain alcohol (ethanol), plain vodka or other organic solvent
- Coffee filters
- Glass dish
Wear rubber gloves and remove stems from peppers. Wash and dry them.
Grind peppers coarsely. A food mill or grinder is helpful.
Place ground peppers in a glass jar. Add enough alcohol to cover. Adjust lid tightly and shake.
Refrigerate jar of peppers. Leave in the refrigerator for three or four days. Shake jar occasionally.
Position a funnel over the second glass jar. Line funnel with a coffee filter. Pour the pepper mixture from the refrigerated jar into the funnel. Let liquid drain completely.
Remove drained pepper mixture from funnel and return to first jar. Pour alcohol over mixture until covered. Replace lid, shake and return jar to refrigerator.
Cap the second jar with the extract in it and store in the refrigerator. (You now have two jars in the fridge.)
Leave the jar of pepper mixture in the refrigerator for another three to four days, shaking occasionally.
Repeat Step 5, adding the liquid to the second jar of extract.
Give the extract a taste test by dipping a toothpick in the liquid, shaking it off and touching it gently to the tongue. Wait a few seconds to see how hot it is. If it is hot enough for you, proceed.
Strain the liquid into a glass dish. Cover the dish with cheesecloth and set in a dark place for a few days so that the alcohol can evaporate.
Discard pepper mash carefully. Throw jar, lid and filter away.
Tips & Warnings
- Hot pepper extract is very, very hot. Do not drink water with it. Instead drink milk or eat cheese to calm it down.
- Handle all peppers and dishes while wearing gloves.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images
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