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Portuguese Sweet Red Pepper Paste (Massa De Pimentão)

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“Entered for safe-keeping, when I want the authentic version of this important and frequently used ingredient in Portuguese dishes: I admit that I am more likely to buy this than make this. This came from Ana Patuleia Ortins' "Portuguese Homestyle Cooking". This takes about 4-5 days, and the 2 cups will keep several months in the refrigerator when stored as directed, as the salt acts as a preservative. DO NOT ADD GARLIC to this preserved paste, but instead use fresh garlic recipes that call for pepper paste. Sterilized baby-food jars may also be used.”
2 cups

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 4 large red peppers or 4 large red bell peppers, cored, seeded and quartered
  • 5 lbs coarse salt (not pickling salt, it is too fine)
  • 12 cup good-quality imported olive oil
  • 16 ounces jelly jars, sterilized (2 8-oz. or 4 4-oz. with tight fitting lids)


  1. Set a colander inside a large noncorrosive pan or dish with sides. (You may also use a wooden produce crate with narrow spaces between the slats found at a local produce market as a colander; you would be half-way to Portugal in your mind, at least.).
  2. Pour a 1-inch layer of salt into the colander to form the base. Some salt will seep out.).
  3. Place a layer of peppers, skin side up, on the salt, pressing the peppers into the salt. UNCURL EVEN THE SMALLEST PART OF THE PEPPER, otherwise mold will form.
  4. Cover with a 1/2-inch layer of salt and the remaining peppers, ending with another 1/2-inch layer of salt. Place a heavy dish or bowl on top to weight it down.
  5. Let stand for up to 5 days to allow the moisture to drain from the peppers. After the fourth day, the peppers should be thinner, about 1/4-inch or less. The salt will be damp and the amount of liquid draining will be barely a trickle.
  6. Shake off the excess salt and process the peppers briefly with either a hand-cranked grinder, food processor, or blender. The texture will not be smooth -- more like coarsely ground tomatoes.
  7. Fill the sterilized jars, leaving about an inch at the top. Pour olive oil over the top to a depth of 1/2 inch. Close the jar tightly and refrigerate.
  8. To use massa de pimentão, simply push aside the congealed olive oil with a spoon, remove what you need, replacing the oil and adding more, if necessary. Use sparingly.

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