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.