Wednesday, December 21, 2016

How to make Homemade Hot Sauce

My very own hot sauce!


After years of growing hot peppers, I finally tried making my very own hot sauce this fall. I did lots of research online, reading chili grower message boards and perusing dozens of recipes from Pinterest and my favorite food blogs. Finally I felt like I had a good enough idea to give it a shot.

The pepper I grow is called Hot Lemon and has a faint citrus-y flavor under its heat. So I decided to make a vaguely tropical hot sauce with lemon juice, ginger, and pineapple. 

Ingredients for a fiery golden hot sauce!

Ingredients:

8-10 oz fresh hot peppers, rinsed and stemmed
3 inches of fresh gingerroot, peeled and cut into coins
2 C water
juice of two lemons (I had about ½ C)
enough white vinegar to make 1 C when combined with the lemon juice
½ large sweet onion, diced
½ C canned crushed pineapple
salt to taste (I used ½ tsp)

Instructions:

Saute peppers, ginger, & onion. I might have browned mine too much; the finished sauce was darker than I hoped.

Saute the peppers, onion, and ginger in a bit of olive oil for 5 minutes on high.
Next, add the water and simmer until water is mostly evaporated, 20-30 minutes.
When the water has evaporated, set the pepper mixture aside to cool.

Simmering

Nicely evaporated.

Combine the pepper mixture and the rest of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Puree.
Taste (cautiously!! Have some milk handy to quench the fire in your mouth and cleanse your palate between tastings). Add a bit of salt if you want, maybe more pineapple. The amount of fire will depend on the type of pepper you use. Hot Lemons are pretty darn hot, not the level of habaneros but I think hotter than jalapenos, ounce for ounce.

Yum, pepper puree!

Next, pour the slurry into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl, to strain out the solids. It will probably take a while, even if you work on pressing the mixture with the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula like I did. My mixture was so thick we let it strain overnight to make sure we got all the liquid out.

So thick the liquid needed to strain overnight.

Finally, pour the liquid into jars. I had hoped for color a little more sunny than what resulted; in hindsight maybe I shouldn’t have let the peppers brown quite as much. That probably wouldn't matter so much if my peppers were red to start with. 

I’m storing my hot sauce in the fridge; I’m sure you could also process bottles in a hot water bath to make them shelf-stable without refrigeration. We also saved the solids in a separate container. A tiny bit of the fresh solids in stir-fry was quite nice; we may dehydrate and powder them as a spice mix too.


Why yes, I did put the hot sauce in antique glass vials.

 
So how did it turn out? Quite hot. Much hotter than either Tabasco or Franks’s hot sauces, two of the commercial hot sauces that are regulars on our table. Honestly I can’t taste the lemonyness as much as I’d hoped because it’s so fiery. Maybe next time I’ll use a smaller batch of hot peppers but keep the liquid the same. I know the ginger adds a lot of fire too, so I’ll think about reducing that next time. But it’s still really good! Not perfect but I wouldn’t hesitate to offer this to my snootiest of hot sauce-loving friends.

After using the sauce for a couple of weeks we also decided it needs a bit more something, maybe garlic or even a dry spice like ground coriander seeds. Next time! This recipe still makes a good basic hot sauce with room for improvising.

Oh, another note: when we were making the hot sauce and tasting it for salt and such, we just had it straight, dabbing the tip of a finger into the sauce and onto our tongue. I mentioned having milk available to calm your palate between tests; I wish we had made rice or something to taste the hot sauce on, rather than just having the sauce all by itself. That would probably have made it easier to judge whether other flavors were needed beneath the heat.

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