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I have been reading about infusing chilies in alcohol to create a liqueur, and I'm not clear on how they should be infused (if at all). Various sources suggest various methods (whole vs. chopped, length of time, etc.), but I'm not clear on the influence of these factors.

  1. How long should the chilies be infused?

    Is there a known "upper bound" after which all of the spice gets transfered to the liquid? Can one infuse them indefinitely, or is there a botulism / spoilage risk?

  2. Is there any problem with infusing them whole?

    Would making a small hole in each suffice? I'd like to do so for aesthetic purposes, but I'm not sure the implications this will have on flavor / spoilage.

  3. What, if any, are the advantages of cooking them prior to infusion?

    I have seen that some people cook the chilies first, but I assumed the flavor would be imparted eventually, even without cooking. So, is there any point cooking them?

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    When I've seen chillies in vodka they look like they've been dried, not cooked. – Chris H Feb 21 '16 at 18:43
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  1. I've infused jalepenos for 1-2 weeks successfully, I don't know if there is an upper limit past that. The alcohol should prevent spoilage and the pH is too low for botulism to be a concern.

  2. Infusing them whole is ok. There will be a lot more heat if you leave in the seeds and membranes.

  3. Cooking them will change the flavor. Only do this if you want the flavor of a cooked chile.

  • Thanks! Just a note though: the seeds themselves are not hot in any way. It's the white membrane that holds them – nbubis Feb 22 '16 at 6:29
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You can speed up the process by roughly chopping your peppers (conserving all the parts, the pith and seeds pack more capsaicin than the flesh!) And putting them with your spirit into a whipping siphon. Pressurize the siphon with one or two canisters of NO2, let it sit for a few minutes, and then safely release the pressure. You can then strain out the liquid for use immediately or continue to infuse in a glass vessel for a while.

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