Hot chilli Christmas garlands create festive fire

December 4, 2011

Camel CSA’s vegetable boxes have been overflowing with a surplus of produce for months now.

All kinds of chutneys and preserves have been made from the veg gluts, but we’ve been almost defeated by the enormous surplus of chillies cultivated in our second polytunnel.

The problem with chillies is that a little goes a very long way.

They feature regularly in our weekly vegetable boxes. Volunteer veg packer Henrietta has made some into chilli jam. Volunteer grower Mark M (who loves to crunch them up raw) pickled some chillies in vinegar. Membership secretary Cath experimented with chilli oil.

All these culinary enterprises proved extremely expensive and time-consuming. I still have hundreds – no thousands – of chillies drying out slowly on the laundry rack above my boiler at home.

Enter now the artistic wing of our food-growing social enterprise.

The latest plan is to turn the chilli surplus into natural edible garlands to go in our Christmas veg boxes. After the festivities are over, the chillies can be plucked from the decorative string and used in cooking.

We’re holding a chilli stringing evening this coming week, when the hundreds of chillis will be threaded on to fishing line. We’re supplying the wine, the chillies, the materials and the surgical gloves(!) Camel CSA members are providing the labour.

I’m amazed at what people charge for hot chilli garlands, centrepieces and edible chilli and herb garlands, so I’ll be interested to see how many we can string together in just one evening!

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