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Post by Guest on 20th December 2009, 4:34 pm

Here's a Thing !
I've been pickling chillies for years, as well as preserving some in oil, I always follow the same basic method and have never had a problem, now I find I'm risking DEATH !

First I blanch the chillies in boiling water for about 3 minutes, if I'm going to pickle them I stick them in a sieve, salt them thoroughly and leave overnight, if they are going into oil I just dry them thoroughly.
The next step is to remove the stalks and cut a small slit in each chilli to let the oil or vinegar penetrate.
The chillies are then packed tightly into sterilised jars or bottles and covered with vinegar or oil.
The jars are then placed into a large pan of boiling water and simmered for about 10 minutes.
Finally the lids are screwed on and the jars and bottles bunged in a dark cupboard for a couple of months.

Apparently though, as far as preserving in oil is concerned I'm running the risk of breeding Botulism !
Is this right, or are Teh Interwebs talking Bolleaux again ?

If it's correct, what methods are other folks using ?
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Post by Luath on 20th December 2009, 11:21 pm

The only botulism implications that I know of when perserving in oil is with garlic, which should never be done by this method.
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Post by Guest on 20th December 2009, 11:55 pm

Hi Luath !
As I say, I've been doing it for years and haven't died yet, but Teh Interwebs disagree :

http://www.thechilliking.com/Recipes/ChilliOil.shtml

http://www.eatwell.gov.uk/asksam/keepingfoodsafe/asksamstoringpreparing/#A279852

I've done Garlic the same way.
Most sites seem to suggest cooking the chillies in oil quite a lot hotter than I'm doing, I'm loath to do that though as I think it might impair the flavour of the oil.
I would have thought that blanching would suffice.
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Post by Compostwoman on 21st December 2009, 12:08 am

Botuliinum is not only found on garlic but can be found on many things..but it is usually garlic or tomatoes which people preserve in oil, hence they are the more commonly questioned foodstuff.

The problem here is that it breeds in anaerobic conditions, hence the concern about stuff in oil...as the oil is the ideal conditon for growth.

To kill the spores you need to heat to at least 116C ...but an acidic environment helps to reduce the risk apparently, hence the advice to soak/boil in vinegar dried tomatoes or garlic before packing in oil.

Here is a link which may be helpful. One thing I did think was that the comment about drying before hand wouldn'y actually help, dehydrating things doesn't actually get the foodstuff hot enough to kill the spores....but it does reduce the moisture needed by bacteria to grow...

Another good link is here


I honestly don't know if what you have done is good enough, personally I probably wouldn't risk it. But that is my personal view...I can live without chilli oil!

HTH Gus...
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Post by Guest on 21st December 2009, 12:22 am

I've read those, in fact I've posted the first one in my previous message !

I'm just not convinced it's true !
I think it's Interweb Lies, or, at best, exaggeration of a very minor problem.
Unfortunately, people are very quick to latch on to something they've read once and spread it all over the place without checking whether it's actually true or not.

Some of the recipes out there are heating the oil to 180C - I don't want to fry anything !

I suspect, that if there's going to be a problem with mouldy, botulism infected chilli oil, I'll be able to tell when I open the bottle !
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Post by Compostwoman on 21st December 2009, 12:31 am

Well I can only go on what I was told on a Level 2 Food Hygiene course in Oct, tutored by an Environmental Health Officer who specialiised in food related stuff..and he was quite concerned about the number of people doing this sort of thing..

Also various American and UK food education sites.....so hardly a web conspiracy I would have thought?

As for duplicating the link, I was trying to be helpful to you and I hadn't seen your post before I put up mine .

I am not saying it shouldn't be done, but there are good reasons ( I am led to believe by the facts I have been presented with) that critical conditions must be met for it to be a safe thing to do.
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Post by Luath on 21st December 2009, 2:51 pm

Never, ever preserve garlic in oil, in any way, shape or form - simple as that.

Trouble is with botulism, you can't see it, smell it or taste it, so never take the risk.
As far as I know, from my own experience and much reading over the last 40 odd years, chillies are fine in oil.
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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 21st December 2009, 3:15 pm

In vinegar it is not an issue as the acidity of the vinegar acts to suppress the nasties.

In oil... I have read the same warnings and had the argument with people who know everything about everything on various forums, but I have also been preserving chillies this way for years and I am not dead either. If the ferocity of the chillies doesn't kill me I figure they're okay.

I am a bit more careful when it comes to bottling meats and so on.

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Post by Guest on 22nd December 2009, 12:59 pm

Notwithstanding all of the above.
My Chilli Oil has gone VERY cloudy - there's obviously too much moisture in there, so I might have to heat it to try and boil off the water.
I've not had that happen before either.
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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 22nd December 2009, 2:27 pm

The Mighty Gusset wrote:Notwithstanding all of the above.
My Chilli Oil has gone VERY cloudy - there's obviously too much moisture in there, so I might have to heat it to try and boil off the water.
I've not had that happen before either.

Are you still sharing accommodation, Gus? Perhaps one of your housemates has added their own 'contribution' to it.

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Post by Guest on 22nd December 2009, 2:34 pm

Unlikely !
I'm the only person in the household who'd do something like that - and even I wouldn't !
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Post by Guest on 24th December 2009, 12:03 am

I've now 'cooked' the chillies in their bottle of oil, not to anything near 180C or any of that nonsense, but certainly close to 100C so I think that'll do !
I've tasted it, and it's Bl**dy HOT !
I've also dried a load - I might bung some of those in oil as well.
For my next trick I might try smoking some (In a Bong ?)
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