Oil and Whiskey Preserved Piri Piri Peppers

Tasty little fiery piri piri peppers. They dot Portuguese gardens, vibrant red amongst the dense green leaves. You can find bottles of piri piri pepper sauce and oil on the tables of restaurants throughout Portugal. But I've found that the people who cook with it here are holding back when it comes to these little malagueta peppers.
Odd looks follow me when I take a bite of "picante" piri piri chicken, then proceed to go grab the little bottle of piri piri oil to give it some heat. It's not because the piri piri pepper isn't hot (it's considered to be up there with the less spicy habanero peppers), it's just that I like spice and I have a strange feeling spicy food here is much more tame than what I'm used to. I blame my mom for giving me a wide variety of different foods when I was growing up (thanks for getting me hooked on spicy food, Mom, now the Portuguese think I'm weird... that or it's 'cause I am weird...).

My family here has figured out that I like spicy, so when any of them harvest their little red jewels of edible heat, we usually get a few handfuls (probably close to a pound or more each time). I never know what to do with them all, because for some silly reason not everyone around here is as in love with spicy food as I am. Go figure.

There is a way to keep them from going bad though. Preserve them in olive oil and whiskey! Then you will have some piri piris at your disposal for when you want to make piri piri sauce, heat up a dish with some peppers, or to help in making a marinade for chicken, beef, pork or shrimp (I'm sure there are others that it would be great with too!)


First things first. You need to dry your peppers. There are two ways to do this fairly easy. First (the easiest way and I didn't do it cause for some silly reason it just didn't occur to me) is to take a some cooking string and thread a needle, poke through each pepper until you have them all on there. Tie off the ends and hang in a good spot to dry for a month or so.

The other way, is to... Oh I'll just show you.

When your peppers have dried out they will be wrinkled and have become darker in color. Don't just assume they are good, as you never know for certain until you open them up and check the inside. Make sure to do this with each pepper before you add them to a very clean (dishwasher clean is best as it sterilizes as it washes) jar.


Piri Piri Peppers Preserved in Olive oil and Whiskey
  • Dried Piri Piri Peppers (or cayenne peppers if piri piri aren't available)
  • Olive oil 
  • Whiskey (or vinegar if you must)
  • 1 clean jar and lid
Prep the peppers by cutting down the middle of the pepper length wise, being careful to not touch the inside seeds too much (I'm not positive how bad of a burn you can get from dried peppers if at all, but it's better to be safe than sorry). Place the peppers in the clean jar. 


Pour in half whiskey and half olive oil into the jar until it reaches the top. Stir with a wooden skewer or put the lid on and just shake for a few minutes.

Preserved Piri Piri

Store at room temperature. Wait a couple of days and you'll have a very strong and spicy mix that
is good for at least a month (I was informed that it was good for a year at which time the oil is no longer good, but I'm paranoid).

I don't know about you, but mine won't last that long to find out!

Note: If you'd like to add garlic to the mix, I'd suggest not doing so, just for safety's sake. Instead just add garlic when you're ready to cook or marinade with the piri piri.


Helenismos said...

Hmmmm... mine are a good six or more years old... I still use it... lol... maybe I should trow them out then!But I'm sure they do last for more than a month! lol

Rochelle Ramos said...

That's good to hear! I'm always worried about things like this being good for longer than a month or so thanks to all the goings on with food going bad... Probably all the preservatives that cause it!

Bonnie Jo English said...

Sounds good and easy.

S.V. said...

Great post. All of your pictures are amazing. I will be in Portugal next month I will have to see about eating something with these lovely peppers in it.

Rochelle Ramos said...

Thank you! They have them all over and marinating everything particularly chicken and shrimp.

Jenny @ Savour the Senses said...

Love this! I would love just having the hanging peppers around too! =) Sounds like something I would cook with all the time!

Rochelle Ramos said...

The peppers are beautiful to have just hanging around, but they are so tasty you can't just leave 'em like that :)

Spicie Foodie said...

What a great way of preserving peppers, love it. Your photos are gorgeous too. Thanks for participating in the YBR :)

Rochelle Ramos said...

Thank you! I'm glad I decided to participate and will be checking out all the other delicious YBR posts :)

Heather @girlichef.com said...

Beautiful, beautiful, BEATIFUL! I think you must have read my mind. I've been trying to locate piri piri's (to no avail) in order to make some piri piri oil (that uses whiskey, too). Now I'm just dying to find some. Fabulous photos :D

Emma said...

Gorgeous pics and I love the idea of having a string of chillis hanging in my house! Have you tried doing anything with the liquid after you've used all the chillis up? I imagine with all that oil you wouldn't want to drink it (as you might if it was just whiskey), but it would seem a shame to waste it...

Rochelle Ramos said...

Heather- Thank you! Piri piri peppers don't seem to be under "piri piri" or "African birdseye" in a lot of places, instead they are usually under Thai Chilies. If you can't find those though you could always use fresh/dried cayenne peppers.

Emma- I have used it, but mainly as a way to spice up something like Asian soups or some meats after they are all ready cooked, like you would use a hot sauce (tabasco or sririacha for instance). I plan to actually do a recipe with them soon and post it :).

Estelle`s boble said...

If you use sunflower-oil insted of olive-oil, it will last longer :)