I have a lifelong history of love and hate with peppers. I think they are visually stunning and as a printmaking major in college I often used them as subject-matter. I love the human-like gestures inferred from their twists and turns. They look beautiful to me, but sadly, when it comes to eating peppers I’m usually not a fan. I’ve tried and do manage to sneak them in to chili. I can tolerate a sweet red pepper in a stir fry as well, but until recently that was about it. Last week I ended up with several jalapenos and a couple sweet red peppers from my CSA share with no plans for using them. I decided it was time to experiment with hot sauce.
My husband, as well as many other people in my life, is a fan of hot sauce so I knew if I could make a good batch it would go to good use. I consulted Put Em Up and was surprised by the simplicity of Sherri Brooks Vinton’s recipe. She calls for only one pound of chilies, two cups of distilled white vinegar and a tablespoon of salt. I added about a tablespoon of sugar to this mixture because I thought it might appeal to me more if it was a little sweet.
After pureeing those ingredients in my blender and waiting for the head to settle, I found the result was a little chunkier than I’d expected, but overall an acceptable texture. Usually I have no interest in the little bottles crowding out the salt and pepper on the table at a Mexican restaurant, but now that I had made my own hot sauce I thought it was time to try it. That night I made a vegetable chili and we found the hot sauce was a nice addition, especially when combined with a little sour cream.
My chili contains chopped carrots, onions, garlic, peppers, spinach, all sauteed in olive oil, then two cans of beans – this time black and kidney – and a large can of diced tomatoes, finished off with a couple cups of chicken broth. I add cumin and fresh thyme, along with salt and pepper. I try to let the whole thing sit on the stove for at least an hour at a low temp so all the flavors kind of settle in to each other.
The next day for lunch, I prepared an old favorite, eggs and rice (just heat up leftover rice in a pan with butter and scramble in the eggs), this time adding hot sauce with maple syrup. I found this combination quite satisfying. I think in general it’s safe to say that I am a greater fan of hot sauce than ever before and will continue along this line of gastronomical experimentation.