I am so lucky to have amazingly gifted women friends. One of them saw all my hot peppers sitting in a pile yesterday and said, ‘You know you can make hot sauce, it’s really easy.’ Then proceeded to give me a simple, tweakable, make-it-your-own type recipe. I hesitate to even call it a recipe, because it’s really what you make it. I decided to take the easiest route since I’m running out of time this week. Tomorrow I will be at the Greenhouse Growers’ Conference, and after that I have a very busy and full weekend. So, I got chopping right away. The pile consisted of Jalapeno, Black Hungarian Hot, Cayenne, and Fish Peppers.
I basically cut most of them into 4 pieces. 2 if they were smaller than jalapenos. Wear gloves if you have sensitive skin or are prone to forgetting that you were chopping hot peppers and often rub your eyes. No kidding, the sting does hang around for a day or two if you’re not careful how you handle them. I don’t really like gloves so I have a system: I only touch the peppers with my left hand. My right hand holds the knife and scratches my nose if it itches. Later, I need to remember not to touch my face with my left hand. Usually I can remember, but not always. Eyeballs don’t appreciate hot pepper juice at all. And my skin is so sensitive, even after washing my hands it will still tingle if I touch something with my hot pepper hand. And my hand will sting for a day too, depending on the scoville units of the pepper. So consider yourself warned.
Put all the chopped peppers in a pot with 2 cups of water and 2 cups of vinegar. The vinegar/water mixture should just cover the peppers, so adjust accordingly depending on how much of each you have. This amount worked well for me, and I had maybe 5 cups of hot peppers?? Or so. I didn’t actually measure. And, you’ll notice, I didn’t actually seed them. Just left all the seeds in. Hey, I’m making hot sauce. It’s supposed to burn, right? Well. If you like flavour and can do without the extra heat, pull out all the seeds too. This is the point where my left hot pepper hand usually starts to burn. It helps if you use a spoon (right hand) to scrape them out.
You can also add some garlic cloves or onions and other spices too – what flavours do you like in a hot sauce? Throw it in!
Once you’ve got them all in the pot, turn on your range fan and put them on the stove to boil. Once they’re boiling, though, turn it down to the point where it just simmers. Leave them there for at least an hour. More is ok too. You’ll want a lid on that mother, because holy cow does it ever burn your throat if you breathe in that steam. Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT lean over the pot. EVER. Your throat will close and burn and you will be thrown into a wild coughing fit that leaves you running out into the back yard gasping for air.
When they’ve simmered to your liking, turn off the burner and leave the pot to sit on the stove all night.
In the morning you will be treated to the cheerfully delicious smell of pickled hot peppers.
They will be cooled, which is how you want them for now. Blend them using whichever method works for you. The immersion blender method was slightly terrifying for me, since the mixture was fairly shallow. There were hot pepper bits flying out of the pot. I ended up using the lid as a shield and almost ran down to the shop in the basement for some safety goggles. If you have one of those blenders with a lid, you might want to use that even though there are some extra steps involved.
You control consistency. I blended until it was mostly smooth but there are still a few little wee chunks. And seeds.
Get all your canning stuff ready if you want to preserve your hot sauce.
Heat up the hot sauce, bringing it up to a boil, but be careful of splatters. It’s much more likely to splatter once it’s been blended. Find your inner knight and wield that lid like a shield. Or grab your goo goo goggles from the basement. Either way. Let the sauce stay warm until all your jars are ready for filling. Fill them, process them, and store them! Hopefully you’ll be left with a good amount of sauce that won’t fit nicely into a jar. Keep that in the fridge and apply liberally to whatever your heart desires.
Be careful during cleanup – that stuff is powerful. It may look like tomato sauce, but it’s killer.
When I had these t-shirts printed for myself and a few friends who were helping out with the business, I got lots of comments about how sweet they were and people wondering if I was going to sell them.
So I’m throwing this out there, wondering how many would order one. I would charge $20 per shirt. You can email me to let me know your size and I will make sure you get what you need.
Let me know!
sarahskitchengardens @ gmail . com
I planted a few sunflower seedlings, but somehow only ended up with one big sunflower head for seeds. I think there may have been squirrels involved, because one of the stems looks like it was chewed off at one point (before they became like tree trunks). The plants did fairly well, though, tucked between the greenhouse and the neighbour’s fence. Fairly sunny if you considered how the light could actually pass through the greenhouse. And the flowers are so tall they can reach the sun anyway. They were tall and spindly at first, but filled out as the season progressed. I actually forgot about them most of the time. It was a pleasant surprise to find the largest sunflower head I’ve ever seen! It was planted in the former location of our rabbit hutch and, I have to say, that rabbit manure sure works well. With the frost coming, I thought it might be best to take the seed head indoors to continue ripening away from potential seed-stealers in my backyard. We’ve got quite the selection of birds and squirrels who would love to take care of our seeds I’m sure.
Before I brought it in, I cut a stem about 2 feet long or so, and scraped off all the dead flower bits from the seeds. You can see in the photo, I’ve done a bit of it already. This was to prevent all those bits from littering my living room floor. Once it was all cleaned off, with seeds still embedded in the seed head, I brought it indoors and hung it up with all the hot peppers I’ve had up for a few weeks.
I will leave it here for a few weeks, most likely. Until they’re dry and rattle a bit.
I’m really happy with the way my hot peppers and paprika have ripened indoors. Back when frost was threatening, I pulled up many of the hot pepper plants in the garden (and paprika, which is a sweet pepper) and brought them indoors to continue ripening. I basically shook the dirt off the roots (outside) and when I brought them in I covered the roots with plastic bags. This was mainly as a precaution to keep my living room from turning into a filthy mess. Once the bags were on the roots (taped on with duct tape, of course) I hung them upside down in staggered lengths so they could continue ripening.
I have to say this is working really well. The large round paprika peppers you see in the photo were all pale yellow when I brought them in. Now they are red and ready for me to dry them and grind them into paprika! All the hot peppers have done really well too, although some are starting to dry right on the plant. For me this is ok, because I was going to dry them anyway.
So, if you are worried about frost because you still have unripe peppers on your pepper plants, pull them up by the roots, shake off the soil, and hang them upside down somewhere. If you don’t want to bother covering the roots you can always find a basement corner for them. Although they would probably appreciate warmth better than a slightly chilled basement.
You can also overwinter hot peppers in pots, keeping them alive indoors until spring.
You may recall the lazy potato post, where I described my not-yet-tried method of growing potatoes in a box with some straw. It was something new to try, since I had been gifted some potatoes and wasn’t sure where to put them. I also hadn’t rototilled this year, so my soil was not very fluffy. Any root veggie should have the fluffiest soil possible (along with good nutrition of course) and so I didn’t want to just dig a hole and bury them.
So I have a few comments for myself for next year, and I thought I would share them with you as well.
1. Plant earlier (right after last spring frost date), so they have more time to grow larger. Mine were on the small side.
2. Maybe add a bit of soil/compost in with the straw, to help retain moisture. This summer was very dry in parts and I mostly forgot about watering them.
3. Water them when it’s dry out; potatoes like even moisture.
4. Try again next year, using this method as well as a few others, just to compare.
I know some people mentioned that they might try this….. do you have any comments to add?