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Red Hot Sauce: The Gift That Keeps Giving

(Fun fact: When you write about for food for a living and also have your own website, some things fall through the cracks. Like this post from a couple of months ago. But it popped back into my consciousness because now with the holidays around the corner we’re getting ready to take our frozen hot peppers and turn them into hot sauce for the people we love. And so, this seems like a pretty appropriate post for December. Give the gift of homemade heat! Cheers! Launie)

The hot peppers just kept coming. I couldn’t resist them.

Habeneros, roulettes, ghost peppers, Cajun belles, poblanos, shoshitos, jalapenos … and some variety that we picked up a few times that we still can’t name. (They start off deep black and slowly turn dark red. Nameless-for-now. But delicious and citrusy with a good bit of heat.)

It wasn’t my fault. They leapt off the tables at the farmers market, co-ops, and farm stands. They jumped into my knapsack of their own volition. Not responsible – not this girl. (Note: I did actually pay for the hot peppers, I just have no self control regarding the amount I end up buying.)

And so, our kitchen table has been overtaken – burdened with the beauty and spicy fruitiness of a whole bunch of hot pepper varieties – and something needed to be done.

We often just dry leftover peppers in the oven or in the sun, or we freeze them. We like to freeze things. It’s one of our favorite ways to extend seasonal bounty.

But we also like to make hot sauces and I realized it had been a long time.

So, this weekend we put together a few batches of hot sauces that used our huge range of hot peppers. Jedd and I decided to try a recipe from Foolproof Preserving, a super-cool book from America’s Test Kitchen that my mom gave to me.

We tweaked it to fit the peppers we had on hand, of course. And couldn’t help tweaking a little beyond that. We added a bit of honey to round out the heat. (Taste as you cook, right?)

We combined our mystery peppers with habeneros, a carrot, a shallot, (and some love) for a sauce that was bright and hot and happy and spunky.


And while we were at it, it seemed like a good idea to revisit an old classic, the garlic-less sriracha that we started making years ago.  (This time around we used red jalapenos. And in lieu of the mini bell peppers, we used Cajun belles and a small bell pepper from my father-in-law’s garden.)

Again, we tweaked it because of the peppers we had on hand.

So, the hot peppers just kept coming. But it led to a nice afternoon in the kitchen. And some bottles and jars of hot peppers sauce to keep us happy for months.

Red Hot Sauce

Yields: 2 bottles


7 Mystery peppers (3 oz.), (jalapenos would work well, too)

1 large poblano pepper

1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped (we used 2 small CSA carrots, not braggin’)

1 shallot, roughly chopped (we just used a regular ol’ shallot, still not braggin’)

4 habanero peppers (1.5 oz.), stemmed

1 cup white vinegar

2 Tbs. packed light brown sugar

1 Tbs. honey

1 Tbs. kosher salt


Prep a few glass bottles or jars, cleaning thoroughly. (We used old tamari and pomegranate molasses bottles, plus a few small Ball jelly jars to catch the extras. We filled them with boiling water and placed them in a large pot filled with hot water, to both sterilize them and to loosen and remove the labels.)

Preheat oven to 500 F.

Arrange jalapenos, poblanos, carrot, and shallot on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil for 4 minutes and turn  peppers to char both sides. Broil for 4-5 more minutes, or until peppers are well charred.

Put charred peppers and cover with plastic wrap or foil to steam for about 10 minutes. Once they’ve steamed long enough, remove stems, peel off the skin, and scoop out seeds and membranes.

Place roasted vegetables and prepped hot peppers in a blender. Add habaneros, vinegar, brown sugar, honey, and salt. Process until smooth.

Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

Use a funnel to transfer sauce into your bottle or jar of choice. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate for up to 3 months.

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