Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hot Sauce

One of the downsides of living in a condo is the lack of space to grow a garden - our outdoor real estate is limited to a small patio. Choosing what to grow is key. No zucchini here. Potatoes? Forget about it. We grow herbs, some small tomatoes, and of course, chiles.

It is really convenient to have a local source of chiles when we need one or two to add heat to a dish we are making. We never use them all up that way, however, so we always end up with a bunch left over and in need of a purpose.

And what better purpose than Hot Sauce? Today we've got serranos (normal sized and tiny), ceyenne and thai bird chiles.

Seeds can make the sauce bitter, so I removed them from about half the batch.

Blending them up in the food processor with some onion, garlic and roasted red bell pepper adds body and mellows things out.

Running it through a food mill gets rid of any big chunks of skin or seeds.

We like to add plenty of vinegar to thin out the consistency and add a nice zing. Cooking it a few minutes sets the flavors and sanitizes the sauce.

Then all that is left is bottling. We get our bottles online from Leeners.

Our hot sauce recipe is constantly evolving based on the year's chile harvest and our current hot sauce needs. The recipe below is fairly mild with a lot of vinegar twang, so use a vinegar you find tasty. To make a real kicker, leave out the roasted bell pepper and reduce the vinegar and onion by at least half.

Hot Sauce

Makes about 7 5-oz bottles.

Approx. 50 fresh, hot red chiles (eg. 30 small serranos, 20 thai bird chiles, and 5 large ceyanne)
4 1/2 cups red wine vinegar, divided
1 large red bell pepper
1 large white onion, roughly chopped
1/2 large red onion, roughly chopped
8 garlic cloves
4 teaspoons sugar
4 teaspoons salt

Rinse the chiles and drain well. Cut off the chile stems and discard. Cut chile lengthwise and remove the seeds (leave some in for additional heat). Bring 1 cup red wine vinegar to a simmer and blanch the chiles 4-5 minutes to soften. Set aside to cool.

Roast the red bell pepper until the skin is charred. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin, seeds, core, and stem. Place the flesh in a food processor along with the onions and garlic cloves. Add the blanched chiles and process to a fine puree, adding some of the blanching vinegar to loosen the mixture if necessary.

Pour the chile puree into a saucepan and blend in the remaining vinegar. Bring to a low simmer and cook gently 15 minutes. Run the cooked puree through a food mill or strainer to remove large pieces of skin and seeds, then return the strained hot sauce to the pan and simmer another 5 minutes to sanitize. Transfer to clean, sterilized bottles. (Detailed instructions for safe handling and storage can be found at


  1. Very nice. Thanks for posting this.

  2. How does white vinegar change the recipe flavor?

    1. White vinegar is more neutral in flavor, but it would work just fine.