Part of the pepper family, chillies come in scores of varieties and colours (from green through to yellow, orange and red) and are one of the most popular spices in the world. Red Chilli can be used fresh, dried or powdered, and the level of heat varies from type to type, from sweet and mellow to blisteringly hot – as a general rule, the smaller the chilli, the hotter the taste.
Store unwashed chilli peppers, wrapped in paper towels, in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Do not store them in an airtight bag, because trapped moisture will hasten spoilage.
To remove the pith and seed from a fresh chilli, wash it, slice lengthways in two, then cut off the stalk. Using the tip of a knife, cut away the white pith and the harder white core. Scrape out the seeds and discard, before slicing or dicing the chilli, as required. Chilli irritates the skin, so some people like to wear gloves to do this job. If not, scrub your hands thoroughly afterwards and remember not to touch your face or eyes – even if you’ve scrubbed well, it may well still burn.