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Some like it hot. By adding heat to season your foods, you can boost flavour without using creams, butter or oils.
Experimenting with a variety of hot peppers and sauces really can add more spice to your life. Peppers have Vitamins A and C and beta-carotene, which boost metabolism and reduce cholesterol, while their capsaicin compound releases endorphins into your body and helps to fight infections.
The great thing about making your own hot sauce is that you can make it just how you like it. You can choose your focus: intense heat, or more flavor? For instance, Mexican hot sauce uses smoked chipotles as the main ingredient, while other types use brown sugar, molasses, mustards, or fruit and vegetable purees to create a signature flavour. If you are really adventurous, try fermenting hot peppers to achieve a taste similar to the famous Tabasco sauce. Did you know that they ferment Tabasco peppers in oak casks for up to three years with salt that is mined right on Avery Island where the peppers are grown? If you have the time, it is well worth the wait.
But, let’s start simple with this recipe that can be easily modified to suit your personal need for heat.
The From Scratch Method
Pick your peppers. A mixture of 24 habaneros and jalapenos should yield you enough sauce to fill 3 small mason jars.
It is strongly recommended to use rubber gloves while handling peppers, but you can also hold the stems of the peppers while doing a rough chop and removing the seeds. Wash hands and utensils immediately after handling.
Using 1 tbsp vegetable oil, sauté 1/2 of a chopped red onion with 2 chopped garlic cloves over medium heat for a few minutes. Then, add your peppers. Season with a good pinch of salt.
Add 3 tbsp brown sugar, stir, and then add and 1 cup of water. Simmer for 20 minutes, and set aside to cool.
Transfer mixture carefully to food processor and process until smooth. Slowly drizzle in 3/4 cup white distilled vinegar. Taste along the way. You may find that you like less or more vinegar.
Adjust your seasonings. Perhaps your hot sauce needs a little more salt or sugar?
Transfer to small mason jars. Your delicious, homemade hot sauce will keep in the fridge for at least a few months.
Wash processor immediately!
- The more you add to your hot sauce, the more heat you take away. Keep it simple if you like it hot. Remember, the most famous Louisiana hot sauces use just peppers, vinegar and salt.
- Beware: Do not inhale or breathe too closely while cooking down and pureeing sauce.
- Proportions of ingredients can all be varied according to taste. Be creative: try adding fresh ginger, herbs or fruit purees, such as mango or peach, instead of sugar.
- Read about the Scoville scale (Google is a good source) to see how the peppers you pick measure up in heat compared to other hot sauces and peppers on the market.
- In the late summer, stock up on seasonal local or homegrown hot peppers and freeze them for use during the long winter months.