Drying Bulk Capsicum Annum/Bacatum - How to Make Dried Acai Products Last Longer
Bulk Capsicum Annum/Bacatum is an ingredient commonly used in hot sauces. Its popularity can be attributed to its ability to provide a sharp yet mild heat which is ideal for hot and spicy food-based dishes. Also, the presence of a pleasant and delicate aroma of the volatile oil in the bulk Capsicum annum/ Bacatum tubers is what makes it so popular.
So how should you prepare these seeds raw? It is best to grind them before using them in any recipe since they can be very bitter if not grated well. The seeds should first be washed with cold water. This will make them soft, thus easier to use.
Once they are cleaned, place them in a small container or pot with holes in the bottom for air to circulate. Place enough cold water in the pot so that the seeds don't freeze. The seeds should also be kept away from other heat sources. Heat source is usually fire, so be sure to keep your seeds out of direct flame or burning range. You can also try keeping your dry Bacatum in the refrigerator.
For maximum freshness, store your Bacatum seeds in a clean air-tight container in the freezer. When they are about to spoil, soak them in warm water for just a few minutes and then store in a cool, dark place for about two weeks. Then simply grind them into powder in your kitchen blender. You can also use the seeds in their original state for added flavoring.
Many recipes make use of these wonderful little seeds. Some good examples include chicken fried steak, beef or turkey kabobs, chili, pasta sauces and soups. They are also good in salads such as tuna salad. Another way to enjoy them is by slicing up cutlets into small pieces and serving with some lightly steamed rice. Sprinkle some lime juice over top to taste.
The bulk Cascutia will not preserve very well so it's a good idea to make some ground up fresh Cascutia on its own once you have gotten over the initial novelty of having the dried version. It can also be sprouted, cooked or eaten as it is. Don't overcook it. About the only way it will lose moisture is if you soak it for a minute or two in a little bit of water or let it sit out to dry.
If you like the taste of dried Cascutia, you can also make a delicious dry dessert by taking fresh Cascutia and soaking it overnight in water. Just strain off the leaves and dry into a flour mixture. Use as you would regular flour to make cornbread or biscuits. Store in air tight containers.
With luck, you'll have enough left over to freeze for the next few months. If not, the next time you go shopping for dried fruits, look for Acai. You may find the Acai at a health food store, but it's rare. Acai is grown in South America, so it's unlikely to be available where you live.
When buying Acai or other bulk fruits, make sure they are 100% Acai. Some Acai products have been mixed with ordinary fruits and even other vegetables to increase their effectiveness. Be careful with these. Some manufacturers will mix Acai with non-acai products just to boost their profit margin. Acai itself contains few chemicals, so the risk of toxic substances leaking into your body is slim.
To keep Acai fresh, store it in the refrigerator. It will keep for about a week, but longer if it's stored in the freezer. The shelf life of bulk Acai depends on the process of drying used. If you're drying Acai for drinking purposes, leave it on the countertop until it's a liquid consistency - nearly freezer cold. For baking purposes, let dry on a wire cooling rack overnight.
To preserve Acai before using, wrap each fruit in plastic and place inside a glass. Or you can use airtight plastic bags, cheesecloth, or a butcher block. Hang upside down on a rack or on a clothesline to dry. Keep the plastic bag on the countertop in front of the refrigerator door for freshness.
After drying, taste any dried Acai product to verify that it's really Acai and not some other fruit or vegetable. Testing in a food blindfolded is probably a better idea. With any luck, the bulk dried Acai will retain its rich flavor for many years to come.