Adventures in Hot Sauce-Making: For Heat's Sake

Adventures in Hot Sauce-Making: For Heat's Sake

Posted by James T on Dec 17th 2014

I was asked some time back, why hadn't I ever made my own hot sauce. I didn't have a good answer to the question, so long-suffering Cheryl and I hit the produce section of the grocery. We bought a variety of peppers and after a couple of days of being asked when I was going to get started, I got out the blender and got started. I combined some onion with jalapenos, serranoes, Anaheim peppers and Fresno peppers. I put in some tomato and cooked it with some vinegar then put it into the blender and gave it a taste.

I had grass-flavored sauce.

After Cheryl stopped laughing, she decided to show me how it's done. I did find this strange since she would be making something she would never want to eat.

Attempt #2

Cheryl went online and found a recipe from Emeril for a Tabasco-style sauce. Rather than just using Tabasco peppers, she decided to use a small number of habanero, with larger amounts of jalapeno, serrano, Fresno, Anaheim and Tien Tsin peppers. She then sautéed onions and garlic in olive oil. As these ingredients were sautéing, she began chopping the many peppers and placing them in the pan. (It was about this time that I started getting questions about how long her cuticles would be burning. I had suggested that we should got the store to get some surgical or rubber gloves. She decided that was not worth the trouble despite the fact that I had told her about the error I had made shortly after I got my first set of contacts. I chopped jalapenos for my favorite chili recipe and only washed my hands three times before I tried to put the contacts in).

Once the peppers had been chopped, seeds and all, she added the required amount of water and gently simmered the mixture for 90 minutes in a non-reactive skillet. This was to steep the peppers and reduce the amount of water. After the mixture had steeped, she added one cup of distilled vinegar and salted to taste. The hot sauce was then pulsed in a blender and poured into pint containers to be placed into the fridge for two weeks to age. Ordinarily one would strain the mixture prior to placing in jars, but we didn't have a strainer. I have been told since that we will be getting one.

The Results

I must say that Cheryl nailed it. There is a nice fruity, almost cherry, flavor when you first take a bite. Then as you continue to eat the hot sauce, the heat builds to a warm crescendo which is very pleasant. Cheryl refuses to eat any of her delightful product, but I guess that means more for me. She has taken some to friends at her job and I heard she is getting positive feedback.

I think that we will be getting some gloves before she makes another batch though as she complained about her cuticles for the next two days. As a seasoned quilter, she was none too happy to have this problem. We also came across another problem that we had not thought of. During Cheryl’s Thanksgiving vacation, she decided to make grilled cheese sandwiches to have with tomato soup.

Unfortunately she used the same Teflon pan as she had used to cook/sauté the peppers. Although I had dutifully washed the skillet in hot soapy water after the hot sauce experiment, the butter on the grilled cheese interacted with the pepper oil that apparently seeped into the skillet coating. As Cheryl was eating her grilled cheese, she began to notice a burning sensation in the back of her mouth. I thought it made the grilled cheese even better, but the long suffering Cheryl was not happy. Word of advice: if you are going to make your own hot sauce on a regular basis, designate one non-reactive pan for your hot sauce making adventures. I know that I am going to get a special one for Cheryl just in time for Christmas (wink wink).