Portuguese Sweet Red Pepper Paste (Massa De Pimentão)

READY IN: 96hrs
YIELD: 2 cups


  • 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)


  • 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.).
  • Pour a 1-inch layer of salt into the colander to form the base. Some salt will seep out.).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.