Baskets of Hot Peppers in the Garden? Make Hot Sauce!

Colorful and fresh Hot Peppers for Hot Sauce

Our garden this year has been a juggernaut – kale that grows faster than we can eat it, tomatoes everywhere, carrots with greens shooting up over our kids’ heads, and even more chili peppers than I know what to do with.So what does one do with all those peppers? You know what they say: when God gives you hot peppers, make hot sauce!

Hot sauce recipe

But given I’m trying to get rid of a couple dozen habaneros, twice as many cayennes, and even more cherry peppers I decided two sauces are better than one.

In honor of our nanny, Annette, I thought I’d take the habaneros and make a Jamaican-style hot sauce. And in honor of my Kentucky roots and love of all things bourbon, I decided to use the cayennes to make a hill country hot sauce that I think my Nan would have loved.

Jamaican Hot Sauce

  1. For the Jamaican hot sauce I CAREFULLY cut the flesh off the habaneros peppers first, avoiding touching the insides as much as possible while removing as many of the seeds as possible. They are going in the blender, so they just need a rough chop – but once that capsaicin gets on your fingers, you will inevitably end up rubbing your eyes and then screaming in pain, so be careful!
  2. I also gave a rough chop to a dozen cherry peppers (aka pimentos), to add a little sweetness to the sauce – and because Annette insisted that a Jamaican style sauce HAD to have pimentos!
  3. All that went into the blender, along with chopped green onions, a handful of cloves, and a tablespoon of allspice and I blended it until completely smooth… then I opened the windows and turned on the kitchen fan, because the fumes from those habaneros are WICKED.
  4. Finally, pour the chili mixture into a pot and add two cups of white vinegar and a couple tablespoons of kosher salt, bring it up to a simmer and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, to thicken a bit and let the flavors fully mingle.

The result is a sharp, pungent hot sauce with an undertone of sweetness from the cloves and cherry peppers and an earthiness from the allspice. This would be great on hot wings, oysters, or eggs. And come Oktoberfest will be excellent with some pickled vegetables on top of a knockwurst!

Old Grand-Dad Kentucky Hot Sauce

Next up, it’s back home to my Kentucky roots for a bourbon-infused, cayenne-based hot sauce.

  1. To add a little more body here, I chopped up a parsnip and carrot from the garden, along with a yellow onion and some garlic cloves, then gave the cayenne – plus another dozen or so of the cherry peppers and a couple of stray jalapenos – a rough chop.
  2. I tossed everything into a large skillet with some olive oil and 2 tablespoons salt over medium-high heat, and cooked it long enough to soften and develop a little caramelization.
  3. Then it all went into the blender, along with ¾ cup Old Grandad, 1 ½ cups of apple cider vinegar,  and ¼ cup of brown sugar.
  4. Once blended until smooth, it’s ready to go.

So far I’ve had it on burgers, French fries, eggs, hashbrowns, and a tomato and cheddar sandwich and it’s been amazing. A more balanced and a milder sauce than the Jamaican style above, but still with a nice kick, this may be the best hot sauce I’ve ever had – certainly, the best we’ve ever made!

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