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Is it “Chili” Chile” or “Chilli”?

How to dry chilies

A string of mixed chilies.

I’ve seen them spelt in every which way, as of course the word “spelt” and speld”. The English language can get very complicated, sometimes!

I took a peek on Google, where else? for the answer and this is what I got back;

The usual spelling in American English is “chili,” but “chile” is an acceptable variant. The usual spelling in British English is “chilli.” (The plurals are “chilies” or “chiles” in the US, and “chillies” in the UK.)

For the sake of this article I will use the American spelling of “Chillies”.

How do you preserve Chilies?

There are many ways you can preserve Chilies, my favourite method is to hang them up to dry. Why?

Chilies are a big part of Jamaican cuisine, you have a look at any Jamaican cookbook and you will find recipes that contain such delights as Scotch Bonnet and Jamaica Scorpion chilies and some will even dare to use the dreaded Ghost Chilies or Peach Ghost Scorpion.

Some brave souls will even cook with the deadly Carolina Reaper that weighs in at 2,200,000 on the Scoville Heat Unit !

In general though, the Scotch Bonnet is the chili of choice for the average Jamaican Jerk enthusiast.

Scotch Bonnet’s are still very hot, especially to people who are not used to having their food spiced so much.

They rank 100,000 to 350,000 on the SHU, if you have ever tasted a Jalapeño chili then the Scotch Bonnet is between 12 and 140 times hotter!

So, be careful when you go out to eat, it would be wise to ask how spicy the food is, after all, to a Jamaican, a Scotch Bonnet is normal fare.

Drying chilies is very simple. Take yourself a needle with a large eye (makes it easier to get the cotton in) a length of thick cotton or cooking string and a pile of fresh chilies.

The ones used in the photograph are Spanish Guindia or Cayenne pepper. It doesn’t really matter, the method is the same for them all.

Tie one end of the thread to a hook, chair or nail or whatever, wax the thread, this will make it easier for the chilies to slide along, a then simply push your needle and thread through the green top of the chili, slide it to the end and then repeat.

Once you have threaded all the chilies, tie the ends together and then hang them somewhere dry. Soon they will dry out and you will have years of happy spicing as dried chilies have an extremely long shelf life.

If you are coming to Negril, staying at one of the seaside villas at Villas Sur Mer, you might ask the staff where the best place to eat Jerk food is. They will know where you can enjoy traditional Jamaican cuisine. Enjoy!

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