Birds Eye Chilli’s are a staple in our garden. My father loved chilli and myself and brothers all acquired the taste, it’s always given me great pleasure to make chilli sauce and Harissa for my family.
Birds eye chillies originated in South East Asia. Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore. They come in red, yellow or black fruits and our plant is red with small white flowers. For a small chilli they pack a punch and can contain between 50,000-100,000 Scoville Units. At Booyong they’re planted in the water tank within the food forest, along with Anne’s Bell Peppers.
Chillies can be propagated by seed, in a seed tray sieving the soil prior so it is nice and fine. Place a cover over the tray and place somewhere warm as the seed needs at least 20°C to germinate.
Companion plants for chilli’s that repel pests and attract natural predators include: Basil, Alliums (including Onions, Leeks, Garlic, Chives and Shallots). Chilli’s thrive in the sun, but their roots prefer shaded, moist soil so dense and low growing herbs like marjoram and oregano will help keep the soil around your hot peppers moist. We grow nasturtiums under our chilli’s at home and they are also a great companion plant for them. Read more at Gardening Know How: Chili Pepper Companion Planting – What To Grow With Hot Pepper Plants.
We use this chilli in soups, stir fries and salads, as well as curries and an accompaniment for meat and vegetables. They grow well in pots or in the ground and grow in well in cold conditions. We often keep some stored in the freezer for the months they are not in season. Ours has been in the garden for a few years, it has been easy to maintain and grow and will lose its leaves in winter and come to life again in spring. Soil can be sandy to rich and they enjoy humid and moist conditions and the plant will grow to 2 metres.
Chillies are rich in vitamin C, beta carotene (which the body converts to vitamin A) and dietary fibre.
Birds eyes are used mostly for cooking, but they can also be used as a natural insect repellent or pesticide when mixed with water. The Office of Environment and Heritage suggest boiling a litre of water with a handful of hot chillies, garlic and vinegar and spraying the cooled liquid on plants and we have used this recipe to deter possums from eating the roses at Booyong.
Here are some of our favourite recipes! Be sure to wear gloves when picking the chillies and cutting them, avoid touching your eyes and wash your hands thoroughly.
Chilli Lime Chocolate
• Slivered almonds
• Lime zest
• Dark chocolate
Melt chocolate, remove seeds from chilli’s and cut finely. Line baking tray with paper, pour chocolate mixed with chilli, almonds and lime. Put in fridge and rake up the bark when firm.
Chilli Lime Salt
• 1 Large fresh red chilli
• ½ cup of flaky seas salt
• Finely zested limes times two
Remove seeds and cut up chilli finely. Mix with sea salt, lime zest in a food processor or mortal and pestle. If you want to store it, dry in oven at 150 degrees for 30 minutes.
Chilli, Lime and Coriander Butter
• Block of butter 65 gm
• 2 tbsps. chopped coriander
• Grated zest of ½ lime
• 1 tsp chilli cut up with seeds removed
• Sea salt to taste
Roll into a log after mixing together and keep in freezer until ready to use.
Harissa – Stephanie Alexander
• 200 grams fresh chillis finely chopped
• 1 medium head of garlic
• I tablespoon ground coriander
• 1 tablespoon ground caraway seeds
• 1 tablespoon dried mint
• 3 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves
• 1 tablespoon salt
• Olive oil
Blend all ingredients together in a food processor using oil to make a stiff paste, store in a jar covered with olive oil, store in a jar in the fridge for several months.
I recently made Harissa and had a little paste left over that didn’t fit in the jars so I added it to Olive oil and made a Chilli oil. Chilli Pepper Madness have some great recipe options too!
What is Chili Oil? They even suggest adding other ingredients including garlic, shallots, peppercorns and ginger root. Well worth checking out in the future!