Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Homemade Hot Pepper Sauce

My chili pepper plants may have overachieved. Like some kind of tiger mother, I encourage such behavior, especially since Bon Appetit magazine published a simple recipe for homemade hot sauce with nothing more than fresh chiles, salt and vinegar. I made half of the original recipe. Even though my pepper plants produced plenty I’d planted just a pair. The 8 ounces of fresh red chiles I used made about a cup of sauce, which will be plenty for us to use in the months to come.

This recipe is simple and its deliciousness is entirely dependent upon the flavor of the chile peppers. Fresh chiles with their stems removed are processed to a rough paste with coarse salt and then mixed with white distilled vinegar and allowed to stand for a few days. The mixture is processed again to form a puree and strained. That strained liquid is your hot sauce.

My chiles are pretty spicy, so my sauce is quite fiery. It’s mostly pure liquid hot chile essence, which is what hot sauce is all about.  I was surprised that it didn’t taste more vinegary, like a buffalo sauce, since there’s quite a bit of vinegar in the recipe. It must be that the pure hot hot hotness takes over completely. I don’t have a problem with that.

While I had lots of small, red chile peppers, you could use whatever chiles you like. If you’re a hot sauce or chile pepper enthusiast, you could try a variety of peppers or combinations. I’m thinking of making some jalapeno sauce from the other pepper plants I’ve got. (They’re doing well in my garden, too.) I’m also thinking of trying other varieties in the garden next year, just to expand my hot sauce experimentation.

I recommend some pretty serious caution when working with chiles in this recipe. Every time I touch a cut chile, the spicy oils get on my hands and don’t come off for hours, even with serious scrubbing. Sometimes my hands start burning after supper. Actually, it’s really weird. But seriously, the pepper paste and puree created in this recipe are even more potent when it comes to chile power. It’s also fairly volatile, so be careful where you breathe, too. And for the love of all that is good and decent, don’t touch your eyes until you’re absolutely certain there’s no more hot stuff on your hands!

You probably don’t need me to tell you how to use this stuff. It goes with everything, depending on your personal taste. Since there’s now plenty of it in the refrigerator, I’m going to have to start using it in more places. I’ve put it on my eggs so far and, as all you enthusiasts know, that’s a delicious application for hot sauce. It looks like things are going to be a bit spicier around here!

Homemade Hot Pepper Sauce
Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine
Be very careful when handling chiles, chile paste, and the resulting hot sauce in this recipe.

8 ounces fresh chile peppers, any variety
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3/4 cup distilled white vinegar

1. Remove the stems from the chiles and place them in the bowl of a food processor. Add the salt and process to a coarse paste.

2. Transfer to a glass jar. Loosely cover the jar with a lid and let stand at room temperature for at least a day and up to seven days. (I let mine stand about 5 days or so.) You can taste the mixture regularly and decide when to move on to the next step. The longer the mixture stands, the more chile flavor you will have.

3. Pour the mixture into a blender. (You could also use a food processor for this step.) Process for about 1 minute or until smooth.

4. Strain the pureed mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a funnel placed in a jar or bottle. Press the thick mixture through the sieve with a rubber spatula or spoon to extract as much of the liquid as possible. Store in the refrigerator for up to four months. The hot sauce is likely to separate upon standing, so shake before using.

Makes about 1 cup.

One year ago: Zucchini Wheat Bread


  1. If you plan to make homemade hot pepper sauce, be sure to wear gloves so you can avoid getting spice in your eyes or harming your hands. Plastic gloves are your best choice since these are thin enough, which allows you to still properly hold small ingredients, like chili and peppers.