How to make your own savory hot pepper sauce from your hot pepper harvest.
It took us a few years but we finally got a nice mix of hot pepper bushes growing on our farm. A nice thing about hot pepper bushes is that after they start growing they don’t need any care. They also don’t have a lot of pests that eat the fruit. We originally wanted the hot peppers to make an organic pest control spray but then the bushes were so prolific we needed another use for them.
The Panamanian or Scotch Bonnet was first pepper we planted was the easiest to grow. It is originally from the Caribbean Islands and was cultivated in Panama. It grows easily here just dropping some seeds around netted us about 4 bushes. The bushes continually produce peppers for almost two years. You can find these peppers at any farmers market here in Costa Rica.
The Habanero is a cousin to the Panamanian and our second type of hot pepper bush to grow. We had also planted green bell peppers at the same time which we forgot to mark. The habaneros were so big and green we erroneously used three in fried rice dish which made the meal inedible for the wife. Lesson learned.
The cayenne peppers (below) gave us the most trouble getting started. Since we were new to growing hot peppers and to our climate we were unsure is cayenne’s simply wouldn’t grow in our conditions or if we didn’t spend enough time preparing the soil. After carefully choosing fresh seeds from the market in San Jose we were able to get many bushes growing at once. Too many peppers for two people to eat. We dry some, we give them away and still we have an abundance of hot peppers.
Here is the wikipedia page for the Scoville hot pepper scale. It gives a number value to peppers heat based on a dilution method.
Tools of the Trade
It’s the oil in hot peppers that causes irritation to the skin, eyes, etc. Making hot sauce requires the handling of a great deal of hot peppers and their oil. Wearing rubber gloves, goggles and using a non-porous surface can help you to stay safe and clean up completely. The goggles are designed to keep your fingers out of your eyes during this process, not because you need to beat the peppers to death.
Start with a large amount of RIPE hot peppers. If not ripe enough let sit in sun 1-3 days. Peppers get hotter and sweeter with ripeness adding taste and zing to your sauce.
Put on your gear, cut off the green tops of the peppers and place in blender about half full (seeds and all).
Add 1/8 c salt more or less to taste (helps extract moisture from peppers and bring out flavor)
Add ½ c water or as much as you need to help blend mixture
Repeat process until you have used all your peppers and place in your fermentation container. A non-metal, clean container works best. Try a large mason jar or large plastic jar with lid. We like clear jars so that we can monitor the fermentation.
With a gloved hand or big spoon push down on the mixture in the jar. This makes the water rise to the top covering the mix so air doesn’t reach it. This is important for proper fermentation.
Before closing the lid set a chunk of cauliflower with stem on top of the mixture. Because you haven’t added the preservative (vinegar) yet the fruit matter will mold. This method allows the cauliflower to mold instead of your hot sauce. I had to replace the cauliflower twice, by the third time, no more mold appeared on the cauliflower head. Let ferment for 2 months in a cool dry place, stir the mixture whenever you change cauliflower and using tongs so you don’t disturb the mix.
Next pour the fermented liquid through a strainer. Use a spoon to press mix through the strainer. Bigger strainer holes give you a pulpier hot sauce. Cheesecloth should give you just liquid.
Your sauce will look something like this.
Add 1 or 2 Tablespoons of vinegar to each jar of hot pepper sauce, depending on the size of your bottle.
This tasty solution will last a long time if refrigerated.
When growing your own food it is essential to find ways to preserve your harvest. This is just one to see how to make a solar food dryer look here.