A couple of weeks ago I was at a farmers’ market that had the most gorgeous peppers. It was vegetable infatuation at first sight. There were tons of different types, shapes, sizes and every color of the rainbow. OK, maybe not every color, but there was definitely red, orange, yellow, green, and one that looked mighty close to violet. The hot peppers seemed to be calling to me. I went into a kind of trance and bought a ton. Reality hit when I got home – what the heck was I going to do with them all? Fortunately for me, I had a ready answer – hot sauce. Hot sauce is a snap to whip up, looks gorgeous and, if you know another heat-lover, a very nice hostess (or host) gift.
For anyone interested, here is a scaled-down version, with varieties of peppers you can usually find at the grocery store. Remember, peppers’ heat can vary. Even if you don’t usually find these peppers to be all that hot, you may want to taste them to make sure your batch is what you’re expecting. If you want a milder sauce, remove the seeds and veins of the hot peppers – that’s where their bite lives. If you want it spicier, add some hotter peppers like cayenne, bird’s eye or habanero chilis.
TIP: If you handle hot peppers and then touch your eyes or nose, it will burn! Protect yourself and wear gloves to cut and handle the peppers if possible.
- 4 jalapeno peppers, roughly chopped
- 1 or 2 serrano peppers, roughly chopped
- 3 red bell peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
- 9 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 bunch of scallions, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
- 3 cups white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
- Put the peppers, garlic, scallions, vinegar and salt in a saucepan.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer 20 minutes. Do not stick your head over the pot while it’s cooking – the fumes will get you.
- Let the sauce cool for a bit.
- Puree the sauce in a food processor fit with a steel blade.
- Taste the sauce. If you want it sweeter, add the sugar. If you want some smokiness without extra heat, add the smoked paprika.
- Place in a clean container and refrigerate for several days to a week before using in order to let the flavors develop.
YIELD: About 5 cups.
NOTE: This recipe produces a fairly liquid sauce. If you want a thicker sauce, just decrease the amount of vinegar.
NOTE: After the sauce has aged you can also strain it to make a hot pepper vinegar, similar to a tabasco sauce. The vegetables left over after straining can also be used as a hot-pepper condiment.