Preserving the crop – chillis

We grow a range of chillis at home, including Habaneros, Jalapenos and Scotch Bonnets (these should come with a warning; they are NUCLEAR!). If you’re like me, you still have an abundance of chillis at the moment, due in part to the temperate autumn we’ve had in Melbourne this year. After nurturing any crop, you want to maximise your use (and even stretch it out over the off-season). There are heaps of preserving options when it comes to chillis, and I’m constantly looking to expand my repertoire, particularly because we enjoy having a range of accompaniments on hand to spice up any dish.

Here are some of my favourites preserving options. But if you’re short on time, simply cut the chillis off the bush, place them in a zip-lock bag and pop them in the freezer for later use.

Super chilli sauceMy super chilli sauce

The very first time I made this sauce, my husband declared that I was ‘NOT to give any of the jars away’. They don’t take long to polish off in our house!

100g (3.5oz) chillis (stems removed)
350g (12.5oz) capsicum (stems removed)
350g (12.5oz) tomatoes
1 head of garlic
1 medium carrot
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 good pinches of salt

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Cut the top off the head of garlic, exposing the cloves. Place on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven for about 40 minutes.

Cut the stems off the capsicums and chillis. Chop the carrot and depending on the size of the capsicums, you may need to halve or quarter them (the small ones I roast whole).

Add the carrot, whole tomatoes and capsicums to the oven once the garlic has been in for 10 minutes, and drizzle with olive oil (they will need to roast for about 30 minutes). After another 20 minutes, add the chillies to the oven (they will only require about 10 minutes).

Remove vegetables from oven. Add capsicums, carrot and chillis to a blender or food processor, leaving the garlic and tomatoes to cool for a few minutes. Add the vinegar, sugar and salt to the blender. Once the tomatoes and garlic have cooled a bit, use a teaspoon to scoop the cloves of garlic from their skins, adding the cloves to the blender. Squeeze the tomato flesh from their skins, and into the blender.

Blend ingredients and store in jars.

Makes about 3 medium jars.

HarissaHarissa paste

You can make this paste with any variety of fresh chilli, but our favourite is Habanero for the flavour and heat. WARNING: this paste is HOT!

1 cup fresh chillies
1 head of garlic
½ bunch fresh coriander, leaves and stalks
½ bunch fresh mint leaves, stalks removed
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon salt
Few tablespoons of olive oil

Gently fry the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry frying pan until they become fragrant (a few minutes). Allow to cool and place in a mortar and pestle. Grind to form a powder. Add to a food processor, along with all other ingredients. Blend to form a paste. Store in a sterilised jar.


  • It also makes a great dip when mixed with Greek yoghurt.
  • Give your soup or stew a boost with a dollop of harissa.
  • Serve with a steak for an added zing.
  • We especially love harissa spread on toast and topped with cheese.

Version 2Pickling

Pickling can be used to preserve nearly any kind of vegetable you have in excess. All you really need is a good brine solution and some sterilised jars (see my post on sterilising jars).

Besides being delicious, and a great tool for preserving your crop, eating pickles is also good for you!

Brine solution:

2 cups (500ml/1 pint) water
2 cups (500ml/1 pint) apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sea salt or kosher salt (do not use table salt or iodized salt as this inhibits the growth of the beneficial bacteria)
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon peppercorns

Bring solution to the boil and then turn down to simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before pouring over the vegetables in the jar. Ensure the vegetables are weighted down under the brine solution to prevent mould from growing.



View All

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *