Home Made Chili Flakes4:43 PM
My sister-in-law's backyard has a "plantation" of chili peppers. Bicolanos eat almost anything with chili. Even the birds eat the chili peppers, believe me! My sister-in-law asked her husband to pick one and taste it. She doubted that the peppers were hot enough because the birds picked some of the fruits. My brother-in-law nearly fainted and his face turned red after he bit one! Well, as it turned out, even the birds in Bicol go for spicy food!
just one of the chili shrubs in my sister-in-law's backyard
Two years ago, when we were still living in Makati, I was able to buy a jar of organic chili flakes in Waltermart Makati. This was produced by Kablon Farms. I cannot find the same product in Robinson's Supermarket and Sta. Lucia East where I do my weekly grocery shopping. So when I saw the chili peppers in Ate Cel's backyard, I got excited and had a chili pepper picking spree. The experience was fun for both me and my son because we are both technically Manileños but not for my husband who lived his growing up years in the province. I intended to make my own chili flakes from the chili peppers that I picked from Ate Cel's backyard.
The weather back in Manila was not cooperative with my chili flakes production plans. I needed to dry the chili peppers well before I can grind them. We opted to just bake them in the oven until they were dried and crisp. A word of caution though, open up the windows in the kitchen when baking chili peppers. The aroma can get too strong and may make your eyes water and your throat itch. I let the chili peppers cool down first to make it more crisp. After that, I manually ground the chilies using mortar and pestle. I was able to make 2 jars of chili flakes with the bunch of chili peppers I harvested.
Rap removing the stems from the chilies before baking
I was able to make as much as these
Another alternative in preserving chili peppers is to put them in a bottle with rock salt and pour cooking oil enough to cover the chilies. This is what my mom (also a Bicolana) does in her household. But this is just an option if you are the type who adds chilies in your food often as these have a shorter shelf life than my dried chili flakes.