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Processing Fresh Chile Peppers Guide E-324

Nancy C. Flores

BRINGING

SCIENCE

LIFE

T O

Extension Food Technology Specialist Cooperative Extension Service

YOUR

INTRODUCTION M a n y p e o p l e c o n s i d e r g r e e n c h i l e peppers t o b e a staple i n t h e N e w M e x i c a n d i e t , a d d i n g flavor a n d p r o v i d i n g a n e x c e l l e n t source o f fiber, beta c a r o t e n e ( v i t a m i n A ) a n d v i t a m i n C . T h e m o s t i m p o r t a n t step i n processing g r e e n c h i l e is r e m o v i n g t h e o u t e r s k i n , w h i c h is necessary b e f o r e f u r t h e r c o o k i n g o r c a n n i n g . T h e s k i n is n o t easy t o c h e w o r digest a n d can afiPect t e x t u r e a n d appearance i n a d i s h . P r o p e r c h i l l i n g a n d storage w i U p r o l o n g t h e s h e l f - l i f e o f peppers a n d one's e n j o y m e n t o f t h i s i m i q u e l y N e w M e x i c a n experience. SELECTION C h o o s e c h i l e peppers t h a t are m a t u r e , h e a v y , s m o o t h , s y m m e t r i c a l , fresh a n d crisp. A v o i d peppers t h a t are m i s h a p e n , s h r i v e l e d , o r h a v e soft spots, bruises w i t h m o l d o r decay. BLISTERING A p p l i c a t i o n o f h e a t t o t h e surface results i n b l i s t e r i n g o f t h e s k i n , w h i c h t h e n separates f r o m t h e c h i l e flesh, m a k i n g t h e s k i n easier t o r e m o v e . T h e r e are several w a y s t o blister p e p p e r s k i n f o r easy r e m o v a l . F i r e - r o a s t i n g , s t e a m i n j e c t i o n , m i c r o w a v e h e a t i n g o r a n y o t h e r source o f h i g h heat, a p p l i e d d i r e c t l y t o t h e surface o f t h e pepper, w i l l cause t h e s k i n t o blister. R o a s t i n g s l o w l y o v e r a flame creates c a r m e l i z a t i o n o f sugars, w h i c h adds a dist i n c t flavor t o t h e final p r o d u c t . ^ HEAT SOURCE METHODS FOR BLISTERING O v e n o r b r o i l e r m e t h o d : Place peppers i n a h o t o v e n o r b r o i l e r set a t 400° t o 450°F (205° t o 232°C) f o r 6 t o 8 m i n u t e s ; u s i n g t o n g s c a r e f i i l l y t u r n p e p p e r ofiren u n t i l s k i n blisters e v e n l y o n a l l sides.

C o l l e g e of A g r i c u l t u r e a n d H o m e E c o n o m i c ; This publication is scheduled to be updated and reissued 10/09.

R a n g e t o p m e t h o d : Place peppers o n w i r e m e s h o v e r a h o t electric o r gas b u r n e r ; u s i n g t o n g s c a r e f u l l y t u r n peppers f r e q u e n d y , e x p o s i n g a l l surfaces t o t h e h e a t source i m t i l s k i n blisters e v e n l y o n a l l sides. i O u t d o o r g r i l l m e t h o d : Place peppers o n a c h a r c o a l g r i l l a b o u t 5 t o 6 i n c h e s a b o v e g l o w i n g coals; u s i n g t o n g s c a r e f u l l y t u r n peppers f r e q u e n t l y , e x p o s i n g a l l surfaces t o t h e h e a t soiu-ce u n t i l s k i n blisters e v e n l y o n a l l sides. M i c r o w a v e o v e n m e t h o d ; Place peppers i n a m i c r o w a v e safe d i s h ; c o v e r w i t h secure a i r - t i g h t l i d t o a l l o w f o r s t e a m b u i l d u p . Place c o n t a i n e r o n r o t a t i n g plate i n the center o f the o v e n , t h e n m i c r o w a v e f o r 7 t o 8 m i n utes d e p e n d i n g t h e o v e n w a t t a g e a n d p o w e r level (sett i n g s m a y v a r y d e p e n d i n g o n m i c r o w a v e o v e n used). B l i s t e r i n g is n o t a p p a r e n t w i t h t h i s m e t h o d . H o w e v e r , the s k i n w i l l have a tougher, m o r e brittle texture c o m p a r e d t o t h e r a w pepper. A l l o w s t e a m t o f u l l y d e v e l o p i n t h e c o v e r e d c o n t a i n e r f o r I t o 2 m i n u t e s afi:er m i c r o w a v e c o o k i n g . C a u t i o n : S t e a m w i l l b e r e l e a s e d from c o n tainer w h e n t h e l i d is o p e n e d . . . . J . ,

.:.

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.

PEELING Since c a p s i c u m can be a n i r r i t a n t t o s k i n a n d eyes, p r e c a u t i o n s m u s t b e t a k e n t o p r o t e c t eyes w i t h safety glasses a n d s k i n w i t h gloves a n d long-sleeved s h i r t . A l s o , i t is best t o r e m o v e c o n t a c t lenses before t h i s process. T o r e m o v e residual c a p s i c u m o i l , slather s k i n w i t h o l i v e o r vegetable o i l , w i p e w i t h a clean paper t o w e l t h e n w a s h w i t h soap a n d w a t e r t o a f u l l lather. F o l l o w w i t h a c o m p l e t e rinse a n d d r y w i t h a clean paper t o w e l . C h i l e s k i n s e p a r a t i o n is a i d e d b y p l a c i n g r o a s t e d peppers i n a m i c r o w a v e safe o r h e a t t o l e r a n t c o v e r e d c o n t a i n e r o r plastic bag ( f o o d grade) t h a t w i l l a l l o w f o r c o n densate o r s t e a m t o release s l o w l y from t h e r o a s t e d

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peppers. O n c e cooled, die blistered s k i n w i l l p u l l ofF the chile flesh w i t h a gende t u g a n d an occasional rinse w i t h water. I n areas t h a t d i d n o t completely blister, t h e s k i n can be rem o v e d b y scraping w i t h a sharp k n i f e o r v ^ t a b l e peeler. CHILLING AND FREEZING F r e e z i n g packaged roasted peppers i n a h o m e freezer has s o m e f o o d safety a n d q u a l i t y issues. R o a s t e d f)eppers m u s t be p r o p e r l y c h i l l e d a n d f r o z e n t o ensure a h i g h q u a l i t y , safe p r o d u c t . R o a s t e d peeled peppers s h o u l d be refrigerated w i t h i n 2 h o u r s o f exposure t o heat. W h o l e peppers c a n be f r o z e n u n p e e l e d a n d are easier t o peel after freezi n g . R o a s t e d peppers m u s t b e used o r f r o z e n w i t h i n 3 days o f storage i n t h e refrigerator; h o w e v e r , t h e sooner f r o z e n t h e better t o ensure t h e best flavor a n d t e x t u r e . H o m e freezers are i n e f f i c i e n t a t r e m o v i n g h e a t q u i c k l y f r o m f o o d placed i n c o n t a i n e r s deeper t h a n 2 inches. I f storage packages are t o o large, peppers w i l l freeze s l o w l y , r e s u l t i n g i n a m u s h y t e x t u r e because o f ice crystal f o r m a t i o n w i t h i n t h e c h i l e tissue. T h e r e f o r e , it's best t o use s h a l l o w c o n t a i n e r s t o a l l o w f o r q u i c k c o o l i n g . Specialized plastic freezer c o n t a i n e r s w i t h lids o r plastic freezer bags are best f o r s t o r i n g peppers i n t h e freezer. R e m o v e as m u c h air as possible t o reduce t h e a m o u n t o f surface c r y s t a l l i z a t i o n t h a t can f o r m i n air spaces d u r i n g freezer storage. A n o t h e r c o n c e r n is a h o t c e n t e r t h a t , f r e e z i n g s l o w l y , a l l o w s bacteria t o g r o w a n d b e c o m e d o r m a n t d u r i n g storage. O n c e t h e peppers t h a w , t h e bacteria can r e v i v e a n d cause illness. I d e a l l y , packaged peppers s h o i U d b e c o m p l e t e l y c o o l e d i n a n ice b a t h o r r e f r i g e r a t o r t o less t h a n 40°F b e f o r e p l a c i n g i n t h e freezer. C o n t a i n e r s o r bags s h o u l d be stacked flat i n t h e freezer a l l o w i n g f o r m a x i m u m air flow a r o u n d packages. Peppers c a n b e s t o r e d safely i n t h e freezer f o r u p t o 1 2 m o n t h s .

COMMERCIAL CHILE ROASTING PRECAUTIONS C o m m e r c i a l roasters are a c o n v e n i e n t a n d e c o n o m i c a l w a y t o h a n d l e large v o l u m e s o f c h i l e peppers. S o m e v e n d o r s use garbage bags t o h o l d roasted peppers. H o w e v e r , t h i s practice is d a n g e r o u s because plastic p o l y m e r s a n d c h e m i c a l s such as pesticides i m b e d d e d i n t h e plastic c a n be released i n t o t h e peppers w h e n t h e b : ^ is exposed t o h e a t f r o m t h e peppers. T h e r e f o r e , i t is best t o use a food-safe c o n t a i n e r s u c h as a large r o a s t i n g p a n o r a p i l l o w c a s e t o collect roasted peppers, t h e n t r a n s p o r t t o y o u r h o m e i n a c h i l l e d ice chest. T r a n s f e r i n t o s m a l l e r c o n t a i n e r s as s o o n as p o s sible. R e m e m b e r t o place p a c k a g e d roasted peppers u n der r e f r i g e r a t i o n w i t h i n 2 h o u r s o f exposiu-e t o h e a t . Flow Path For Chile Roasting

Reftigerate or Ice B a t h C o o l t o l e s s t h a n 40°F

Use or Freeze with i n 3 days Freezer Storage u p to 12 Months

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