ProQ Cold Smoker Being LitSmoking chillies is a great way to use up any leftover pods you might have at the end of a season (although we know it is sometimes very hard not to eat all of the fresh pods there and then!). We tend to freeze chillies in batches during the season so we can decide what to do with them later on. We of course try to make as many chutneys, oils,jams and hot sauces as we can with fresh pods but it is hard to beat a piping hot soup in the dead of winter with a smoked chilli in the background to warm up the cockles and boost up morale. 

Smoking chillies might seem like a hassle from the outside but trust us it is actually pretty simple and inexpensive once you have the right equipment (prices start around £30). The beauty of smoking your own pods is that you can play around with flavours. Whether you use a Jalapeno (which then takes on the name of Chipotle), a fruity Scotch Bonnet or a fiery Trinidad Scorpion, smoking them will add a whole new dimension to their original flavour. 

In terms of equipment we use a ProQ cold smoker (a hot smoker would cook your pods so better to stick with cold smoking) and in order to keep the overall cost down and maximise the use of space (as professional growers we have rather large crops compared to the average gardener) we built our own wooden box with large trays in it so we can have our chillies sorted out by variety. 

The next step after getting your equipment is to choose which type of wood dust you are going to use. There is a wide selection of wood you can use from Pine, Beech, Cherry, Apple, Alder and many more but we have to admit that good old Oak is definitely our favourite. We did experiment with several types of wood on Jalapenos to see how their flavour would change and got some very interesting results. 
Chillies Ready for Smoking
One thing is for sure, although professionals with very expensive equipment tend to leave the pods whole, albeit pierced, to sell on it is essential for those trying their hands at smoking chillies to cut the pods open, if not halving them entirely for quicker results. You can leave the seeds in of course as the placenta surrounding them contains a lot of the chilli heat but you can also perfectly smoke the flesh on its own. All that is left to do is fire up the cold smoker for a good 10 to 12 hours although you can double up that amount if you want to obtain a particularly smoked effect that is bound to knock your socks off.

Once the pods are ready it is important to dry them. We use a traditional dehydrator for ease of convenience but you can perfectly leave the pods in the sun if you are smoking them in summer or use a low heated oven and even an airing cupboard if you have one (although beware as your laundry might take on the smell!).

We recommend that you keep the resulting wonderfully fragrant pods in airtight containers (we sort them out by type in food bags first) away from light and heat as this will ensure their longevity (up to 2 years generally). Depending on the use you will have for them you can of course turn them into flakes to sprinkle on your pizza at the last minute or into powder to add to pretty much anything you fancy!

The uses of smoked chillies are really endless so let your imagination run wild and have fun using your own gorgeous crop of smoked pods!! 



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