Early in the spring, I planted several pepper plants – one bell pepper, one jalapeno, and one habanero. Unfortunately, cucumber-pocalypse happened, and the cucumbers dwarfed these plants. You couldn’t even see them. I thought my pepper season was a flop. But when the cucumbers gave up the ghost, and I pulled up the vines, the plants were still there. So I opted to nurture them a bit and try for a fall season full of peppers.
It wasn’t a bad season, in spite of everything. I had a good handful of bell peppers, a couple dozen jalapenos, and a couple dozen habaneros.
Well, only a few ripe habaneros, truthfully. We had a cold snap a few weeks ago, and even though I covered my plants, the pepper plant didn’t survive, so I pulled a bunch of green habaneros. They actually ripened on the counter, much to my happiness.
Except then, I had to come up with something to do with over 2 dozen habanero peppers.
Hot sauce was the answer!
I love a good hot sauce. I’m a big believer in Sriracha and Slap Ya Mama, but would never hesitate to try a new sauce. A few drops of a good sauce can make tamales sing, turn my boring breakfast of hard-boiled eggs into a delight, and can turn a bowl of chili into my favorite meal ever. This sauce can do all of these things.
Caution: it’s not for the timid. Habaneros definitely pack a punch. Just a few drops will do. But it’s more than just searing heat…there’s a subtly sweet background, thanks to some carrot and a touch of brown rice syrup. The sweetness compliments the peppery heat of the habanero perfectly. I can’t wait to use it on everything imaginable. I may or may not be planning my meals for next week around the ability to apply this stuff.
Of course, it’s great as a homemade, edible gift as well. The holidays are coming up, and sometimes a small, homemade gift can mean a lot. I am a fan of making edible gifts, and this is definitely something you could make ahead of time, pour into a cute bottle, and give to your favorite chili-head. I happen to have one of those in my family. If I don’t eat it all myself, there might just be a bottle in this person’s future. Or maybe I just need more habaneros. We shall see.
Habanero Hot Sauce (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free)
About 20 habanero peppers
4 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 c distilled white vinegar
1/2 c water
1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 c lemon juice
1 t kosher salt
1 t smoked paprika
2 t brown rice syrup
Before you start to handle the habaneros, please be cautious. These are pretty hot. Wear gloves when touching the peppers, or you will regret it, as the hot oils will seep into your hands. If they don’t burn your hands, then when you touch more sensitive areas (your lips, tongue, eyes, etc.) it will burn, and that’s no joke.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Start by cutting each pepper in half, removing the stem, and scraping out the inside and the seeds. Cut each garlic clove into 3-4 pieces. Place in a single layer on a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper and roast for about 20 minutes or until brown on top. Keep an eye on them, as you don’t want them to burn. (Another note: you may want to open up a window, as this process can get pretty fragrant. I was sneezing just a bit.)
While the peppers and garlic are roasting, place the water, vinegar and carrot in a small saucepan and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the carrot is soft. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Place the peppers, garlic, carrots and vinegar in a blender, along with lemon juice, salt, smoked paprika, and the brown rice syrup. Blend, scraping down the sides as needed, until completely smooth. If it’s too thick, then water and vinegar, alternating a few tablespoons at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.
Taste the sauce (be careful, just a few drops would be enough!) and adjust your seasonings as needed.
Store sauce in a glass jar or bottle, refrigerated, for several weeks.