Thursday, April 25, 2024

Prepper's Pantry: Hot Sauces

As I've mentioned in some of my other food related articles (spices, canning [1 and 2], and pickling), home-preserved foods are generally nutritious and filling but can eventually get monotonous. There are many different additives available to add variety to meals, the simplest and most common being salt to enhance flavor and pepper to add some zing. Another option, and one with great variety, is hot sauce. 

My Wife and I grow some form of hot pepper in our garden most years. In addition to using them throughout the growing season, we also preserve them in different ways: sliced and frozen; in salsa, which is also frozen; dried and crushed; bottled in vinegar; and, of course, in hot sauce. We make a number of different hot sauces of different levels of heat and flavor, depending on the harvest and our mood. Neither of us likes heat for the sake of heat, preferring flavor with some spice. With that in mind, we also make some hotter sauces that are intended for use in soups or stews, where a tablespoon of hot sauce will go a long way.

Speaking of heat, peppers are measured on the Scoville Scale, starting with the sweet bell pepper and going up through the truly insane.

Scoville Scale

At their most simple, hot sauces are an acid (such as cider vinegar) and a flavoring (such as hot pepper paste). Frequently, salt will be added for its preservative and flavor-enhancing properties. In the following recipes, carrots are used as a thickener and to moderate the heat level. Habaneros are obviously not the only peppers that can be used; feel free to substitute different peppers and experiment.
When making hot sauce at home, the most important precaution is to avoid transferring any of the spice molecules to your mucous membranes, such as your eyes, nose, mouth, or genitals. Gloves and goggles or lab glasses can help with this, as can rigorous washing-up.

Habanero Hot Sauce
  • 1 ½ cups chopped carrots
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups lime juice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (minimum)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped habaneros, about 12 chilis (minimum)

  1. Combine all the ingredients, except the habaneros, in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes or until the carrots are soft.
  2. Add the habaneros and simmer until at the desired flavor and heat. Adjust the heat by adding more habaneros or by increasing the carrots, but this can alter the flavor.
  3. Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Strain for a smoother sauce.
  4. Pour in sterilized jars and refrigerate.

Habanero Pepper Sauce
  • 12 habanero chilis, stems removed, chopped (minimum)
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (minimum)
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ cup chopped carrots
  • ½ cup distilled vinegar
  • ¼  cup lime juice

  1. Sauté onion and garlic in oil until soft.
  2. Add carrots with a small amount of water.
  3. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer until carrots are soft.
  4. Place mixture in blender with chilis and puree until smooth.
  5. Combine puree with vinegar and lime juice; simmer 5 minutes to combine flavors.
  6. Put mixture into sterilized bottles and seal.

For those interested in more information, Ian (aka LawDog) has a good discussion on hot sauce characteristics which you can find here.

Bon appetit!

1 comment:

  1. The other advantage of adding vinegar (an acid) and citrus (also acids) to peppers in a hot sauce is that capsaicin is a base. Vinegar and citrus help neutralize the burning sensation of capsaicin. One of the few things my son learned in his chemistry class.


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