How to Use Peppers to Infuse Cooking Oils

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Chili oil, or cooking oil infused with hot spicy peppers, is a basic for Asian cuisine. It makes appearances in Moroccan dishes and Italian as well. Commercially available oils may be too spicy for your taste or perhaps even not spicy enough. Make your own with dried peppers and cooking oil. Use it to spice up salad dressing, sauces, chili and stir-fry dishes.

Things You'll Need

  • 8 oz. cooking oil, olive, peanut or canola
  • 4 to 8 tsp. of crushed dried peppers
  • or
  • 16 oz. fresh hot peppers, such as jalapeno, Anaheim or serrano
  • Paper towel
  • Dehydrator or oven
  • Zipper-locked bag
  • Rolling pin
  • Sauce pan
  • Strainer
  • Coffee filters
  • Glass bottle with cap
  • Wash the peppers. Dry the peppers to a crisp texture using one of several methods: hang them up a warm place; put them in the oven set on warm for several hours or use a dehydrator. If you don't want to dry your own peppers, buy them already dried or use red pepper flakes.

  • Crush the dried peppers. Place them in a zipper-top bag. Pound the peppers with a rolling pin.

  • Put the cooking oil in a saucepan. Heat on medium heat until the oil reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the peppers. The more peppers you add, the spicier the oil will be. Lower the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes.

  • Cool the oil to room temperature. If you want the oil to be very spicy, do not strain. If the look of the bits and pieces of peppers isn't appealing, strain the oil using a fine mesh strainer and then strain the mixture again through a coffee filter placed in the strainer.

  • Keep the oil in the refrigerator. Oil and dried peppers won't spoil but if there was any moisture left in the peppers from the drying process, bacteria may attack. The cooking at 180 degrees for 5 minutes should destroy any bacteria but keep the oil in the refrigerator as a safety precaution. Botulism is a concern with any home preservation methods.

Tips & Warnings

  • Combine dried herbs with the oil for a different flavor.
  • Use dried lemon, lime or orange rind for a citrus oil
  • Don't overheat the oil until it smokes, or the peppers will taste burnt.
  • Do not use fresh peppers unless you will be using the oil immediately. Use only dried peppers for oil you plan on keeping for several weeks.

References

  • Photo Credit John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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