When life gives you hot peppers…make hot sauce. I grew scotch bonnet peppers for the first time, this year. Last year it was bhut jalokia peppers, also known as ghost chilies, which certainly lived up to their hot, hot, hot reputation. On the scoville scale ghost chilies rank high at 855,000–1,463,700 heat units. Scotch bonnets aren’t quite as hot, but still pretty potent with a rank of 100,000–350,000 units. To give this all perspective, the average jalapeno averages around 5,000 units.
I’ll also tell you this: my scotch bonnet plant was much smaller, yet bore much more fruit than the ghost chili plant. The ghost chili plant grew incredibly large, yet it seemed to take forever and a day for the peppers to mature and ripen, The scotch bonnet plant was much more compact and loaded with peppers, which it continued to produce until the frost came.
So, when time for the final harvest arrived, I had so many scotch bonnet peppers that making homemade hot sauce with them seemed the obvious choice. I also had a good amount of very hot jalapeno peppers that I’d let turn red on the plant, so they also became hot sauce. After a number of weekends and batches, I combined the two in one final batch.
Overall, the red jalapenos give the best tasting hot sauce of the three, but the scotch bonnet hot sauce is the hottest, without a doubt. So pick your poison and make some sauce with it. These are very basic recipes – feel free to use the hot pepper of your choice. Also, get creative with spices and see what you can create. Never be afraid to play with your food.
- 6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 1/2 cup finely diced carrot
- 1/2 cup finely diced onion
- 12 scotch bonnet peppers, stems removed
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
Makes about 3 small bottles of hot sauce.
Roast the garlic over low heat in a medium sauce pan with a tight-fitting lid, tossing the cloves around every few minutes. When they’re soft and starting to blacken a bit at the edges, they’re ready. This usually takes about 15 minutes or so. Remove garlic and peel, placing softened garlic in a blender. Set aside.
Add onions and carrots to saucepan and cook for 5 minutes, until starting to soften. Add peppers, vinegar, salt and sugar and simmer until peppers are completely soft, about 20 minutes.
Pour the pepper mixture into the blender with the garlic and puree until smooth.
Using a fine mesh sieve placed over a bowl, strain the pepper mixture. Use a spoon or spatula to press out as much liquid as you can.
Let cool and pour into bottles. Refrigerate until ready to use.
I followed this same basic recipe using my very hot red jalapenos, but only added about 8 peppers, since they’re larger than scotch bonnets. I use different colors of raffia twine, wrapped around the bottle necks, to easily know which bottle is which sauce.
Easy, right? My only warning is to be very careful when handling hot peppers. Also, a little ventilation while cooking the peppers is helpful and recommended – this stuff will definitely clear your sinuses while you’re simmering and pureeing!
If you end up with a ton of hot sauce like I did, this is also a great gift idea for your hot-sauce loving friends and family.
Enjoy and happy weekend!