Adventures in Preserving: Habanero Hot Sauce Recipes

Oh, the habaneros. So. many. habaneros. They’re hard to give away (not many people love ‘em) and I can’t stand to let them just rot. I already dried a few (love the powder!), so I figured I’d try my hand at another method of preserving: making hot sauce! I tried three different recipes:

1) This little sauce comes from Grill Grrrl, and it won me over with the inclusion of carrots, onions and tomatoes. I started with these goodies:

  • 6 habaneros
  • 1/2 tomato, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • zest of 1 lime
  •  Salt, pepper – to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped

The carrots, onion, and garlic get sautéed for about 10 minutes, until they are softish.

Then, everything on the list gets piled into the good ‘ol food processor.

The slurry is poured back into the pan and simmered for another 10 minutes. Careful, the gasses are PUNGENT. Nose watering, eyes tearing, the whole bit.

About two seconds after this photo, the blade fell into the pan. This is why I can’t have nice things.

Anyway, apparently, the post-blend simmer takes some of the heat out? This stuff pretty darn hot, at least for me. And not like I’m some tough hot saucer, but besides my dad, I’m the most capsaicin-tolerant person I know. I’m the kind of person who can’t enjoy a meal without hot sauce, and this was barely edible. I have a full mason jar of the stuff, and I’m just crossing my fingers that with age it will be tamed a bit.  We’ll see. (update: I tried it after it sat for 3 days. Definitely more delicious and edible! Still hot, though.

2) The next recipe comes from Recipes @ Suite 101 and, thankfully, called for the removal of all seeds and the insides of the ripe habaneros. Because I didn’t want to burn my eyeballs out of my head (you know I’d forget my hands were covered in poison oil and touch my eyes), I ziplocked it up before gutting the peppers.

I’m usually a miser with plastic bags, but I was more than happy to dispose of these after one use. The gutted peppers (about 15) and 6 chopped garlic cloves get coated in olive oil and go into a 350 degree oven for 20 min. Here’s what they looked like coming out:

Pretty decent, right? That goes into the food processor along with:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

This sauce was a bit more watery, and, unfortunately, still REALLY hot. Almost inedible. It’s sitting in my fridge also under the wish that I hope it cools down a bit. (update: This one also cooled down a bit, phew!)

3) Third time’s a charm, right? It was for me! I was inspired by one of my favorite hot sauces, El Yucateco. It uses green habaneros, i.e., unripe ones. They, in theory, are not as spicy. I needed that in my life.

The ingredients are simple: peppers, water, salt, garlic, vinegar, ‘spices’ and a preservative. Hmmm….what are those secret spices?? After thorough taste testing on all sections of the palette, I decided to start with these goodies:

I gutted the 29 peppers using my trusty plastic bag method, and piled them into the food processor with:

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon of salt (I never added the pepper, I think I lined it up into the picture by habit haha)

After a taste test, it was still missing something. After smelling some different spices, I decided maybe turmeric would do the trick. I added a 1/2 teaspoon.

And honestly, it all clicked!! The turmeric gave it some depth and melded with all the other goodies in the sauce. Now, don’t get me wrong, this green stuff is still HOT. But it’s edible, and it’s darn tasty. Not exactly El Yucateco, but it reminds me of a delicious hot sauce they serve at a local Middle Eastern restaurant. I had it with homemade french fries last night and it was fabulous.

After the exxxxxtra hot sauces these habaneros made, I’m thinking next year maybe I’ll scale back on the habaneros and include some jalapenos and less pungent varieties so I can make edible sauces. Have you made lethal hot sauce this year??

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  1. Aren’t hot sauces fun to experiment with? I enjoy making them more than using them… probably why I have such a huge collection :)

    • Totally! And now I have a good stockpile that should last me until the apocalypse. I do enjoy picking out the perfect sauce to go with a particular dish, so I like having the variety around :)

  2. HA! For us, jalapenos are the right amount of edible spice and Cayenne pepper can only be sprinkled into our pots…we always have to put in half of what the recipe says. We did make some hot sauce using fish peppers, but it is still fermenting. Not sure which one of us will be brave enough to test it.

    • Ooooo, fish peppers, I’ve never even heard of those! As for the jalapenos, I totally agree that they are a great amount of edible spice. They have that heat, but you can still taste the green, if you know what I mean :). Hope your sauce turns out well!

  3. Isaac

     /  September 22, 2013

    Interesting experiments your doing there. Did you pasteurize the salsa before you stored it? It’s kind of important to avoid Botulism toxin. I have not tried any of my chili’s in a processor yet, your giving me ideas. If you want to lower the heat of your chili sauce add more vinegar, that’s what most hot sauce company’s use. Im growing super hots like Bhut Jolokia and Trinidads as well as habs and usually end up sun drying them.
    Here is my favorite…take your sun dried or dehydrated hot chili’s, dried garlic chunks, whole sea salt and whole pepper kernels (optional), grind them together in a coffee grinder to the consistency you like and store it as ready made seasoning. You can also add Basil or Oregano and other spices to get the right flavor for your pallet. I like doing that with super Chili’s as well.


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