Monday, March 11, 2013

Homemade Pepper Sauce

Last year I planted about 5 pepper plants. A couple of Pimento, a couple of hot ones I don't remember the name of, and I believe an Anaheim. They did so well, I had peppers coming out of my ears. I credit the hot Las Vegas sun, as well as the fact that I sprayed them once with an Epsom salt/water solution when they were young. I should have harvested them periodically through the summer, but I thought the pimentos would get bigger (they didn't). Which means I had A LOT of peppers at the end of the season. I did try a couple of peppers in recipes throughout the summer, which is how I realized that the pimentos were pretty darn spicy. Must have been cross pollination. . . .

I realized when I had all these peppers at harvest time that I wanted to make a hot sauce, like a Tabasco type. So I started researching pepper sauces on the Internet, and came up with a wide variety. I decided to try a couple of different ways, and see what I came up with as an end result. The reason why I'm posting this now and not when I had a new finished product is because I wanted to make sure it was good, and would last. (It did, I still have some in my fridge. Delicious!)

Homemade Pepper Sauce

Peppers. Any variety. Type depends on how hot you want your sauce. Amount is up to you.
garlic cloves, husk taken off but whole (amount depends on your taste)
Pickling salt

Type 1: Brine, Peppers, and Garlic
Into a pint sized jar, stuff as many whole peppers as you can (and by whole, I mean stem and all). Add a clove of garlic or two. add 2 1/2 tsp of Salt, and then fill to the top with water. Screw on lid, shake well to dilute the salt into the water, and leave on your pantry shelf for at least 2 weeks to ferment. At the end of fermentation, skim off any scum on the top, and dump everything in a blender and blend. Store in the fridge.

I started to do this, but then realized that the brine was escaping, and I didn't have the patience. So I let it sit for a couple of days in a bowl (to catch the escaping juices) then took off the lid, added a glass cup to weight down the peppers until fermented to my liking, then blended them up. turned out really well, had a good flavor.

Type 2: Peppers, Garlic, Water, and Vinegar
Well, right off the bat I didn't do exactly what the directions said. I only added vinegar to a quarter of the jar, then filled the rest of the jar with water. To start from the beginning: Cut stems off peppers. Stuff a quart jar with peppers, adding a clove or two of garlic. fill the jar with vinegar a quart of the way. Add water to the rest. Add a glass cup or weight to the top of the jar to weigh the peppers down and keep them immersed in the liquid. Ferment to your taste.

Type 3: Peppers, Garlic, and Brine, Fermented open air from the beginning
Her Sriracha
Now the author from this website didn't grind up her chilies, but by now I got the idea of what I needed to do. So I took out my trusty fermenting crock, threw in a bunch of different chilies and peppers (by now my Grandmother had given me some sweet Hungarian Paprika peppers, so I added some of those as well) and made a brine. The brine I used was 1 cup of water: 1 tbsp salt. I mixed up enough brine and chopped up the chilies (make sure you use gloves!!) trying to take out most of the seeds and discarding the stems (which took a lot of work!). I then threw the chilies into the crock, and filled it up above the chili line with the brine. I added my plate and weight, and waited. I checked it every day or so, making sure if there was any scum on the top of the brine that I skimmed it off and rinsed my plate and weight.

End Result

I let my different experiments ferment for about a week and a half, which is not very long. This year I'm going to shoot for at least 2 (preferably 3) weeks (Keep in mind the longer you ferment your chilies, the more sour they will taste). I then took out the standard blender (if you want finer blending, I would recommend a baby blender) and blended each different experiment and put them back into their jars. What I also did, within each experiment, was have jars that had more hot peppers or mild peppers, and kept them separate.

When I had finished blending everything and labeling, I got to tasting. My taste buds took a couple of hours to recover, so I would recommend having some milk or cheese on hand between tastings. Type 1 and 3 were similar, mostly because they ended up being made the same way. Type 3 was much more mild because I had the Hungarian Sweet Peppers in that one. Type 2 was HOT! I think the vinegar brought out the heat of the chilies.

So now I had a couple of different heat levels of hot pepper sauce. I decided to combine them in a way that would make them hot or mild. I combined them into small decorative jars that I gave out as Christmas gifts, and kept the rest in my fridge. I've been eating the pepper sauce as a sort of salsa with ruffles chips, pouring it on my eggs in the morning, or adding it to stir fries to add heat. You can pretty much add it to anything.

Please let me know in the comments if you have tried any of these recipes, and how they turned out. Thanks!