Every year at the end of the growing season, we pull the pepper plants from the garden and pick the last of the peppers. (Admit it, you just heard a childhood sing-song about picking pickled peppers, didn’t you?) Sweet green bell to fiery hot Rooster Spur and Fatali pack the bucket.
Some years find us making roasted hot pepper jelly. (More about that in another post.) Delicious, but not a diet staple. Chopped, sliced and halved peppers fill a shelf in the freezer.
But there must be something else to do with all these peppers.
A couple of years ago I made a hot pepper vinegar similar to the ubiquitous bottles at Steak N Shake. Essentially this is sport peppers packed into a bottle, filled with a brined vinegar and allowed to steep. Store in the fridge and shake on fries, fried potatoes, or even homemade chili mac.
We also use a lot of Tabasco sauce, Frank’s Red Hot and Sriracha. Why not make our own version?
I looked at several recipes on line and none of those really suited me. My goal is to use as many of our own ingredients as possible, but also to have a master recipe that can be altered depending on what ingredients are available.
Here’s what I came up with:
1 cup chili peppers, finely chopped (leave seeds and ribs for more heat, remove to tone down the Scoville Units)
1 cup vinegar
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
Sauté vegetables on high heat for 2-3 minutes, then add vinegar and salt. Simmer for 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then puree. If using a stick blender as I did, you can do this process while the sauce is still warm. if you need to transfer it to a blender, let it cool to room temperature.
Strain/press the sauce through a fine sieve into a jar. Cap, label and refrigerate.
Add any additional vegetables or seasonings you have on hand. Try tomatoes, carrots, garlic, onion, fruit, zest, herbs, or something sweet such as sugar or honey.
The one I made added 2 cups of diced tomatoes and a cup of chopped garlic to the above master recipe. It has some nice lingering heat and great flavor but doesn’t completely set your mouth on fire. Tabasco Hellcat seemed a fitting name.
Next up will be a jalapeño sauce. And, some shaker bottles.
To soothe your lips after all this hot sauce, try some BEEk balm available in our on-line store.