Over the years I have met some great people while trudging through the daily grind that is the practice of law. One of those people, Ryan, a fellow attorney and ardent foodie, shares a love of food and all things food related. We often chat about our experiments in the kitchen while making our way through our various court appearances and deposition schedules. He recently mentioned that he had just finished making some homemade hot sauce. I have yet to make my own hot sauce so I was intrigued about the ins and outs of making it at home. Ryan was kind enough to share his trials and tribulations (a close call with a friend who ingested the incredibly hot sauce unaware of the spice factor-ouch) and detailed instructions on how he and his wife, B, make it SAFELY at home.
Welcome B & Ryan to La Phemme Phoodie!
For the past three years, my wife and I have grown habanero peppers in the flowerbed next to our house. The first planting started basically on a whim to see if the peppers would grow in this fairly wet environment. Thus, we picked the driest and sunniest part of our home and planted two or three pepper plants. Five months later, we harvested sixty-five red habanero peppers. Like most of our goofy projects we neglected to engage in much forward thinking. What would we do with sixty-five habanero peppers in October? Being fans of spicy cuisine such as Thai and Indian, we decided the natural solution to the pepper problem was to make our own hot sauce. Not having a recipe readily available, we turned to the vast reserve of knowledge that is the Internet, and we found a recipe that sounded tasty. Then we promptly doubled the number of peppers called for in the recipe, and we nearly killed a friend’s neighbor at a Super bowl party who unexpectedly encountered our hot sauce slathered generously on a batch of homemade hot wings. Wishing to avoid prosecution for manslaughter, we decided that next year we would use the number of peppers called for in the recipe and gradually add more, if additional heat was desired. Three years later, we have perfected our autumn staple, which we have now dubbed “B & Ryan’s Burn Your Face Off Sauce.”
The original recipe can be found on a number websites and has names such as “Bob’s Habanero Hot Sauce”, “Liquid Fire”, “Peach Habenero Hot Sauce”, and simply “Habenero Hot Sauce”. A quick search for the recipe reveals a number of sites that feature the recipe including Allrecipes.com.
We selected this recipe because the mix of sweet molasses and peaches was the perfect compliment to the heat of the habeneros. We stuck with the same basic recipe because it is tastier than we had hoped. However, we have changed the recipe only slightly by halving the amount of salt, adjusting batch size for the amount of peppers we grew, experimenting with the number of peppers in the recipe, and adding safety equipment to the preparation instructions. The modified recipe is as follows:
B & RYAN’S BURN YOUR FACE OFF SAUCE
12 habanero peppers, seeded and chopped (for an acceptable level of additional heat use 15-17 peppers).
1 (15.5 ounce) can sliced peaches in heavy syrup
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoons salt (Original recipe calls for 2T)
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 food processor
Glass jars for storage
2 pairs of well-fitting latex or polyurethane gloves (per person – 1 pair serves as an emergency back-up)
1 pair of lab goggles (per person, no joke)
Some sort of respiratory protection and/or appropriate ventilation such as a nearby open window (again, no joke)
Put on your gloves, goggles, and respiratory protection (if available), and open a nearby window. This step is essential. Have you ever gotten habanero pepper oils IN YOUR EYE?? Pray you don’t. Use the goggles. That same pepper oil tends to BURN skin after prolonged exposure. It also gets in between your nails and the sides of your fingers and … guess what? IT BURNS. The oils seems to stay on (in?) the skin for a day or so no matter how hard you wash your hands. At the risk of sounding repetitive, if you touch your eyes or sensitive parts with this oil on your skin it will BURN. The fumes generated from cutting the peppers are also an irritant. They will irritate your eyes and lungs if you do not work with ventilation, protection, or both. Do yourself and those close to you a favor and take these safety precautions.
Once properly protected, cut and seed the peppers. The rest is simple. Place the seeded peppers, peaches, molasses, mustard, brown sugar, and vinegar into the container of a food processor. Measure in the salt, paprika, pepper, cumin, coriander, ginger and allspice. Blend until liquefied. Pour into clean jars, and refrigerate overnight before using. That’s it. No cooking. Pass out the extra jars to your friends and family, and be prepared for future requests for more sauce.
This year, we grew five habanero pepper plants, which yielded 144 usable peppers, and we made approximately three gallons of hot sauce. The recipe adjusted accordingly is as follows:
144 habanero peppers, seeded and chopped
12 (15.5 ounce) can sliced peaches in heavy syrup
6 cups dark molasses
6 cups yellow mustard
6 cups light brown sugar
12 cups distilled white vinegar
3/4 cup salt
1 1/2 cup paprika
3/4 cup black pepper
3/4 cup ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons ground allspice
Yield: Approx 3 gallons.
We use our hot sauce on all kinds of dishes. It adds a spicy kick to homemade hot wings. Add a couple of teaspoons to a jar of salsa, grab a bag of tortilla chips, and enjoy. We’ve also used it in delicious pineapple chutney served over chicken. However, our favorite way to serve the sauce is to spoon out a little over a taco — or four.
Most people who have tried our hot sauce comment that they enjoy the sweet taste of the peaches and molasses. They also like that the kick isn’t really felt until the sauce is swallowed. This makes for an interesting, and dare I say, complex flavor experience. Most commercial hot sauces we have tried seem to substitute the lack of peppery heat with vinegar, trying to make the sauce seem hotter. The result of this, at least in our opinion, is a bitter sauce that just tastes like thickened vinegar. For this reason we have found ourselves becoming hot sauce snobs, which wasn’t our goal. At the risk of sounding arrogant, we simply feel this sauce is so much better than most others we have tried that we can’t help but be disappointed with commercial sauces. We hope you enjoyed our slightly humorous post about one of our favorite recipes. It is a recipe that has grown in popularity amongst our friends and family, and one we plan on making for years to come.