Hot Sauce Is Cool
Do you have a
handful of shriveled chili peppers at the bottom of last week’s CSA
box? And now a new CSA full of more chilies? Make hot sauce and use
them up! Late summer and early fall is hot sauce season. Almost all
the ingredients you need are available now from Vermont and New
Hampshire farm stands and farmers’ markets.
Homemade hot sauce
is easy and delicious. Also, it’s super cool.
My dad makes a sweet
and vinegary hot sauce that can sit on the shelf for months,
corroding the lid of the jar and getting more and more delicious. I
grew up eating it on fried eggs and stir fries. After spending a year
working in a barbecue restaurant, I started making my own versions.
Now I make a few different kinds each August and September with
whatever hot peppers are around.
There are so many ways to make hot sauce – ingredients and technique vary widely by culture and household. You can ferment it (like Sriracha and Tabasco) or use vinegar (like the recipe below). You can keep it plain or add sweetener and other flavors (herbs, fruit, oils, and spices). You can cook the peppers or leave them raw. Make what you like! A quick Internet search brings up a huge range of hot sauce recipes if you are looking for a specific style.
Most of my hot sauces are secret preparations, and sometimes the peppers just tell me what to do. But here’s a very simple formula for making your own.
The first step is to
put on a pair of disposable gloves. Hot peppers will burn your skin
for longer than they burn your mouth. I have made hot sauce without
gloves with mixed results, but that habit ended abruptly after I
spent most of a hot summer night last August lying on my bed
alternately clutching a cold washcloth with both hands and dipping my
fingers in ice water while trying to catch snatches of sleep. If you
are fearful of your hot sauce being too hot, remove the seeds and
white membrane that holds the seeds and just use the pepper flesh.
Absolutely wear gloves for this.
Simple Fresh Hot Sauce Recipe
(Makes about 1 ½ to 2 cups)
10 – 15 chili peppers, any kind
1 cup apple cider vinegar
4 garlic cloves
½ t sea salt
1-2 T sugar or maple
Put on a pair of disposable gloves.
Wash the peppers and cut off the stems.
If you want a hotter sauce, leave the seeds in. For a milder but still hot sauce, split the peppers lengthwise and remove seeds and the white membrane.
Puree peppers and
all the other ingredients in food processor or blender.
Taste and adjust
salt, sugar, garlic, and vinegar as needed. If it’s too thin, add
more peppers and puree some more. If it’s too thick, add more
Pour into a clean
jar and store in the fridge and eat within a few weeks.
Shelf life of hot
I don’t have one simple answer for this, but in general, if you have a lot of vinegar in the sauce, you can keep the sauce for a long time. What’s enough? Enough that it tastes pretty sour and is fairly thin, like commercial hot sauce. If you want to keep that fresh not-too-sour taste, use less vinegar and use up the hot sauce within a couple weeks. If you ferment or cook the hot sauce and use a sterilized jar for storage, the sauce may last longer. Discard if the hot sauce grows mold, gets slimy or discolored, or develops an off taste or smell.