Lawd have mercy on my sinuses and throat — just finished making some homemade hot sauce from the Tabasco pepper plants in the garden.
We use a lot of hot sauce in our kitchen so I can kind of justify the pain by thinking of our voracious appetite for the stuff.
This is my second attempt, as batch #1 was based on a recipe that required fermenting the pepper mash (as they do at the actual Avery Island, Louisiana company). It started out well and the color was gorgeous but after a week something started going grossly wrong:
After the fact, I realized that I’d missed a crucial step in fermenting food: making sure the mash was not exposed to air. (I blame the online recipe I used that didn’t include that info.) According to some more thorough recipes on other websites, this is accomplished by weighting it down with a plate or saucer, then putting a layer of salt water on top of that.
I hated throwing it out, since underneath that moldy top was perfect-looking peppers, but the smell was all I needed to know it had rotted, not fermented. Ick.
So, when I harvested the most recent batch of Tabascos, I found a simple recipe that didn’t involve fermentation on www.friendsdriftinn.com.
One pound of Tabasco peppers, 2 cups white vinegar, and 2 teaspoons salt chopped in the food processor:
And just like when I made horseradish sauce in the food processor, my kitchen was filled with tear-jerking, throat-searing fumes from these tiny peppers and their seeds. Now, this time I didn’t wear gloves and I was very careful not to touch the sauce. (I can only imagine the world of hurt I’d have been in if I got that in my eyes).
The recipe then calls for you to bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. As I’d expected, heating this lava-like concoction only makes your eyes water and your lungs burn more. All I could think was how in the world people work in hot sauce factories. They’d have to wear gas masks and goggles. It is wicked!
I tried using the immersion blender in the pan to further liquefy the mixture after it finished cooking, but I just couldn’t take it any more, so I poured it into a quart jar and blended it inside that. Much better.
Now I’ve got it in the fridge, and the recipe says to let it stay there for 2 weeks, then strain the mixture and add vinegar to get it to your desired consistency.
In case this batch doesn’t work out (I don’t see how it can’t with all the vinegar it’s got in it), I do have some more peppers waiting: two weeks ago I pulled all the Tabasco plants out of the ground before our first frost hit here in the Southern Appalachians.
And now I’ve got them drying upside down in our basement (right above the dehumidifier!):