[My friend, filmmaker Matt Morris, offers up his own take on hot sauce, “an easier one” he points out after reading the post below this. Take it away, Matt!]
I recently moved to the Napa Valley, a land of such abundance that it’s almost impossible to visit a friend without leaving with large sacks of produce, dozens of backyard eggs, and cases of wine in tow.
In order to keep this food from going to waste, you must find ways to preserve, pickle, and can. Most people who regularly cook never think to make their own condiments, which isn’t that difficult and always significantly tastier than store bought. But which condiment stands above them all?
Homemade mayonnaise is pure magic, but there are some folks who don’t like the taste or get put off by the color and texture. I don’t associate with these people. Ketchup is a little boring, and pickling has jumped the shark of hipster trendiness. Hot sauce, however, is the perfect homemade condiment. People who like hot sauce actually LOVE it, and it looks great sitting in a clear bottle in your fridge. Not only that, but after a minimal amount of work, you can enjoy your creation for weeks or months.
A few weeks ago my sister-in-law Jen made her own hot sauce and my first reaction was, “Why didn’t I think of this?” The results were amazing. A few days later, my wife Emma returned home with a bag full of peppers from a friends’ yard. I knew what I had to do.
One of the reasons I like Adam’s blog is that he often approaches cooking the way I do- by simply looking at what ingredients you have on hand and being willing to wing it every now and again. The good news? You can totally wing it when making hot sauce. All you need are peppers and vinegar.
I had about 4-5 scotch bonnets (or habaneros, I couldn’t quite tell) and 2 other chiles on hand. This determined how many peppers I used. I had an empty sauce bottle that held about one and a half cups of liquid. This determined how much vinegar I used. See? Easy.
But it isn’t just easy- it’s incredibly fun. When cutting your peppers, you’ve got a perfect excuse to go full Walter White. Make sure you protect your eyes and hands from the hot peppers and wash any surface they touch. De-stem the peppers and take out the seeds (or leave them if you want it extra-hot) and add to a sauce pot, preferably an enameled dutch oven.
I added a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and apple cider vinegar, a few cloves of garlic, a little onion, and a dash of smoked salt. After a half hour of simmering, I puréed the mixture and poured it into the bottle with a funnel. If you want to sterilize the bottle you can, but it should last 1-3 months in the fridge if you don’t, and let’s be honest, is it really going to last that long?
The resulting hot sauce was perfect for my taste- sweet and almost fruity up front with a satisfying burn on the finish. If you do make your own hot sauce, I encourage you to make labels as well- it’s a nice finishing touch that makes the finished product look even more legit.
So go forth and make sauce. You can thank me later.