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One of our top goals every week is to make sure we don’t waste food, especially any of the fresh ingredients we stocked our fridge with on the weekend. But week after week, year after year, it seems like there’s always at least one forgotten item that turns into a slimy puddle in the veggie crisper before we get a chance to cook with it. One of those ingredients that gets this treatment more often than it deserves is hot chile peppers. Jalapeño, serrano, habanero — we buy them with the best intentions, but some recipes (and tasters) can only handle so much heat. So when UK food television star and cookbook author Jamie Oliver shared his hack for saving leftover chiles so they never turn into a weird science project in the fridge ever again, we were excited, and honestly a little shocked that we hadn’t thought of it before.
It’s actually really simple. If you can tell you aren’t going to use up your fresh hot peppers before they go bad, just put them in a zip-top bag or air-tight food storage container and throw them in the freezer. Now, if you were to simply take a hot pepper out of the freezer the next time you needed a chile and let it thaw before chopping it up, you’d wind up with a mushy, wet mess. Instead, Oliver builds on a hack we’ve seen people use with frozen ginger.
He grates the still-frozen chiles on a microplane grater, and says it creates “this gorgeous chilli dust that is great for cooking, marinating or sprinkling over dishes.” Any time your food needs a spicy kick, you can just grate a frozen chile right into your pot or pan, or even right over your plate before serving.
This is also a great way to plan ahead for meals. Just buy a selection of fresh chiles at the grocery store or farmers market and freeze them — then, any time you come accross a recipe that calls for a certain chile, you won’t have to run out to the store just to pick it up. You’ll have a whole selection of frozen fresh chiles to choose from, right in your own freezer.
Before you go, check out Garten’s best dinner recipes below:
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