I was the lucky recipient of a majestic Habanero chilli bush for my birthday. After using two of these babies in a Lamb Rogan Josh, it became quite clear (on all levels) that these little bad boys were punching way above their weight. One by one, the greenies transformed into fiery hot orangey goodness and I was faced with the tough choice on what to do with this massive crop, especially considering the weight-to-heat ratio.
The hotness levels of different types of chillis is measured using the Scoville scale, which measures the capsaicin concentration in a chilli. It is somewhat subjective as it measures the response of human testers to capsaicin levels. Habanero chillis are in the third hottest category along with Scotch bonnets, Datil peppers, Rocotos, Madame Jeanettes, Jamaican hot peppers, Wiri Wiris and Bird’s eye chillis (Wikipedia).
A friend of mine once entered a chilli eating competition, with a Habanero being the final curtain in the challenge. She witnessed grown men cry and gush rivers of saliva when the last course was ingested. Not for the faint-hearted or for those with pacemakers.
I procrastinated over what to do. Should I pickle or turn into a sauce? Dry them out or make chilli oil? With very little time available and the window of harvesting narrowing, I took the simple (and best) route. Freezer! Chillis freeze very well and are easier to work with once frozen. Harvest the chillis, wash, dry and seal in a Ziploc. When you take them out the freezer, working with gloves on, slice off the stem side, cut in half lengthwise, and run your finger along the inside to pull out the seeds.
Use in your recipe as you would for fresh chillis. Use the seeds only if you are really crazy about heat. The only limitation is that they might change consistency once defrosted, so pickling or bottling from there might not be so great. Yet you will always have stock of delicious hotness whenever you need!