Chillies – long red and Rocoto

This last week I’ve been able to access a bucketful of Rocoto Chillies.  They are a tree chilli that thrives in cooler climates, and originate in South America.  Friends John and Judith have a magnificent tree growing here on the Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania.  We actually measured its circumference – it came out as 8.3 metres, and the bush stands over 2 metres tall.  John tells me it crops all year round, cropping literally by the thousand, with the colour of the chillies moving through green to deep purple to bright red, at which stage they are ready for the using.

 They are however, extremely hot, earning them their alternate name of “Hotlips”, well deserved I found after making the sweet chilli sauce and absentmindedly putting my hand to my lips.  Ouch.  It is a must to wear kitchen gloves when handling these chillies I think.

 Along with the chillies, John was kind enough to supply me with a recipe for sweet chilli and red capsicum sauce, which is very delicious so long as you remember to use it in small quantities.  Judith tells me she uses it to add flavour to casseroles and stew type dishes.  I think it would be very nice mixed sparingly into cream cheese or sour cream.  I have altered John’s recipe somewhat and also added some grated green ginger – by all means it can be left out – I just happened to have some to hand.  So here is the recipe for using these hot little bell chillies.  The colour of the sauce is amazing – bright orange-red. 

 I made a triple batch of the sauce, but still have about three quarters of a bucketful to cook up.  I found a recipe online for stuffed Rocoto peppers that I am anxious to try.  It involves boiling the chillies in several changes of water to reduce their heat.  If it is palatable, I will post the recipe later.

 The second recipe in this post is my regular sweet chilli sauce – it uses long red chillies, and is not nearly so hot.  My pantry is never without it – I add it to all manner of savoury dishes – a stir fry, casserole type dishes, pour it over cream cheese, add it to gravies – it gives them all a real lift without too much heat.  You can take the seeds out if you like, but it’s by no means necessary in this case.  This chilli sauce keeps for at least a year – there is no need to refrigerate it until it’s opened – in cooler climates this is optional.

 Whichever of these sauces you make, you will find them infinitely superior to any commercial sweet chilli sauce with the added benefit of no artificial additives.

 John’s Sweet Chilli  and Capsicum Sauce made with Rocoto Chilles

 100g Rocoto chillies

2 medium red capsicums

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons salt

2 cups sugar

2 cups white or cider vinegar

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons grated fresh green ginger

3 teaspoons cornflour mixed to a paste with 2 tablespoons extra vinegar

 Remove the stalk ends and seeds from the chillies and dice.  Remove stalks and membranes from the capsicums and dice.  Cook gently in the sesame oil for 3 minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients, except for the cornflour paste.  Bring to the boil, stirring often, then boil quite briskly for 30 minutes.  At this stage I pureed the mixture, but it can be left chunkier if preferred.  While still boiling, stir in the cornflour paste and cook 5 minutes more. 

 Pour into warm sterilised jars and seal immediately.

 Sweet Chilli Sauce (recipe from “A Year in a Bottle”) – made with long red chillies

 250g long red chillies, chopped – deseeded if desired

3 ½ cups sugar

3¼ cups white or cider vinegar

1 tablespoon grated green ginger root

10 cloves garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons salt

3 teaspoons cornflour mixed to a paste with 2 tablespoons extra vinegar

 Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan.

 Bring to the boil, stirring, then cook over medium heat for 30 minutes.

 Add the cornflour and vinegar paste and stir until thickened slightly.

 Allow to stand in pot 10 minutes, then pour into sterilised jars and seal immediately.

6 thoughts on “Chillies – long red and Rocoto

  1. Dan Milliken says:

    I have a rocoto chillie and would like to know how to dry the chillies. The plant has been with me for about six years and is very pleasant to look at.



    • Sally Wise says:

      Hi Dan – all you need to do is remove the stems and seeds, then cut into 6mm slices (or halve, depending on size) and place in the dehydrator on the vegetable setting. How long it takes will depend on the chillies – could take anything from 4 to 6 hours, maybe even longer. If you don’t have a dehydrator, place the prepared chillies on a wire rack over a tray in the oven and dehydrate at 70 degrees C. Open the oven door from time to time to let moisture escape.


  2. Wayne Cassidy says:

    I would love to buy some seeds or seedlings from this rocoto tree. I would really appreciate it if you could contact me or send me info on my email address.



    • Sally Wise says:

      Hi Wayne – we don’t live anywhere near the man who had this root chilli tree anymore unfortunately. However, some nurseries now stock them. Regards, Sally


  3. Dan says:

    Hi Sally

    I sucessfully propagated a heap of these plants and am expecting my first crop soon, can you eat the black seeds or do you discard them?

    Advice appreciated, thanks very much.


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