This is my favorite homemade hot sauce recipe. Over the years I’ve used it with fresh and dried chile peppers (or a combination), in various blends of red and green mild, medium, and hot pepper varieties.
At a local farmer’s market, there is typically much more variety than at a grocery store. So in summer I make hot sauce from locally grown fresh chilies. I will also buy plenty of fresh local peppers to dry in a food dehydrator and make hot sauce throughout the year. I’ve also bought ripe red jalapenos, smoked them, and dried them for homemade chipotle to add to my hot sauce recipe. So there’s no limit to what you can do.
If you have a good Latin grocery where you live, then you can find a good variety of dried peppers. Or order online from a company such as Alamo Peppers, MexGrocer.com, or Firehouse Pantry. Try hot sauce on eggs for breakfast, add a dash to soups or stews, boost the flavor of mac-and-cheese or mayonnaise, or use hot sauce anywhere else you want to add an interesting accent.
Makes 1 ½ to 2 cups
• 1 ounce dried chilies (mild to hot, e.g. ancho, chipotle, habanero) OR 6 ounces fresh chile peppers (e.g. poblano, jalapeno, habanero)
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
• 2 tbsp chopped nuts (such as almonds, pine nuts, or hazelnuts)
• 1 tbsp raw sugar, brown sugar, or honey
• 1 tsp dried oregano OR 1 tbsp fresh
• 1 tsp salt
• 1/4 tsp whole cumin seeds
• 1½ cups water
• 3/4 cup vinegar
Directions:1. Cut open chiles to remove and discard the seeds and ribs. You may wish to wear gloves while handling either fresh or dried chiles as their oils linger on the skin for several days, even with vigorous washing.
2. Coarsely chop the chiles. Place chiles and remaining ingredients in a small (1 to 2 quart) saucepan.
3. Bring to a simmer over high heat, reduce to medium-low, cover, and simmer very quietly for 20 minutes.
4.Turn off heat, uncover, and allow to cool 10 minutes.
5. Pour the mixture into a blender jar or food processor and process for several minutes, or until very smooth. This should result in a pourable sauce. If needed, add water to thin sauce to desired consistency.6. Transfer sauce to a sterilized glass jar. Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate. Use within 6 months. Hot sauce tends to improve in flavor for several weeks.
If you prefer a thinner sauce, process until coarsely chopped and then strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or several layers of damp cheesecloth, discarding the solids. You may also increase the cooking water by 1 to 1½ cups to facilitate the straining process.
By experimenting with different types of fresh and dried peppers and preparation techniques, you can create an endless supply of interesting and delicious hot sauce to add piquancy to all your meals.
• To create a fruity sauce, use mild green chilies.
• To add depth of flavor, toast dry chilies in a hot skillet before chopping.
• To produce an earthy sauce, roast up to half of your fresh peppers.
• For a smoky sauce, roast all of your fresh peppers.
If your tolerance for heat is high, create an electrifying sauce by including mostly (or only) hot chile peppers.
Carole Cancler is the author of The Home Preserving Bible. She has traveled to more than 20 countries on four continents to attend cooking schools and explore food markets. She studies the anthropology of food with a focus on how indigenous foods have traveled and been integrated into world cuisine. Read all of Carole's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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