What to do with chillies

Whenever you find yourself with some leftover fresh chilli, don’t leave it to shrivel up. Just follow Jamie’s tricks on how to use it, waste less, and create some tasty flavour bombs for your store cupboard.

Freeze 

Pop leftover chillies into a bag or plastic box and store in the top drawer of your freezer. They’re fantastic finely grated directly from frozen, which creates a tasty, beautiful chilli dust that is great in cooking and marinades, or for sprinkling over pastas, salads, starters, antipasti, meat or fish dishes. Yum. 

Pickle 

Slice up the chillies and pickle them. The leftover juice from jars of gherkins or dill pickles is perfect for this – instead of throwing it away, top up the jar with a little vinegar, stir in a couple of teaspoons of sea salt, then just throw in a load of sliced chillies. This will preserve them to be used in all sorts of dishes for a couple of months. 

Oil 

There are two types of oil you can make, using fresh or dried chillies. With fresh chillies, once you’ve got about 10 saved up in the freezer, place them in a snug-fitting pan and cover with 2cm of cheap olive oil. Pop on a low heat and slowly simmer them for 1 hour, then allow to cool. Remove and discard the stalks and seeds, scrape the chillies into a clean jam jar, pour over the infused oil and fill to the top with regular oil. This will give you a round, warm, sweet-tasting oil.

Dried chilli oil really couldn’t be simpler. Crumble up a mixture of dried chillies (see below) – flaked, ground or homemade- then heat them in a dry pan for 1 minute, cover with cheap olive oil and put back into a bottle. Whenever you remember, just give the bottle a shake to ensure maximum flavour infusion. This will give you a savoury, simpler oil that can be used in lots of different ways. 

Dry

Dry whole chillies in a warm place, such as near a radiator, or in an airing cupboard, or if it’s a really nice day, try them in natural sunlight on a dark tray to maximise heat. Once dry, whack them whole into a jar, then crumble or flake them as needed. 

Tips

  1. Save the seeds from your dried chillies in an envelope and have a go at growing your own. Sow the seeds indoors in February or March (at about 21C) to germinate, then grow them somewhere warm and light, such as a sunny windowsill or conservatory, potting them on as required. Feed them every 10 days with natural liquid fertilizer and mist them regularly with water. 
  2. If you’ve only used half your chilli and plan on using it the next day, simply stand it, cut-side end, in some salt. It will stay lovely and fresh!

Save with Jamie by Jamie Oliver is published by Penguin Random House © Jamie Oliver Enterprises Limited (2013 Save with Jamie) Photographer: David Loftus