Killer Hot Sauce
Last year I gave this hot sauce out as Christmas presents and it was a big hit! My brother – I kid you not – drank it straight from the bottle! This year I managed to find some habañero peppers at the farmer’s market to kick up heat, so I hope he’ll use it more sparingly. 😉 I’m also making A LOT more. I’ve got over a gallon fermenting right now, and will probably make another gallon before summer ends. This recipe is for 1 quart, but I recommend doubling or quadrupling it when you find fresh hot peppers at your local market. I use big 3L or 4L Fido jars for fermenting mine. I like to use a mix of hot peppers – jalapeño, serrano, cherry bomb, and habañero – but feel free to use whatever is available to you. One tip I have is to snip off the stems, but leave the crowns; they impart a lovely earthy flavor. Adding the dried tomatoes at the end gives this hot sauce a little sweetness. I also love to throw in a couple of chipotle peppers for a smoky flavor, but that is optional. For information on how fermented pickling works, see my post for Killer Dill Pickles.
Killer Hot Sauce
Makes 1 quart or liter
1Tbs mustard seed
1 small head garlic
Assorted hot peppers, about ¾lb.
Brine: 2tsp salt dissolved in 2 cups water
¼ cup dried tomatoes
2 dried chipotle peppers
Put mustard seed in bottom of jar. Separate the garlic cloves, peel them, and slice off the root ends, then add them to the jar. Snip the stems off the peppers, but leave the crowns intact. Pack them firmly into the jar to fill to about 1 inch from the top (to the lower rim). Place a small weight on top, and then add brine to cover completely. (It may be helpful to put a grape leaf or oak leaf on top to prevent any peppers from poking above the surface.) Secure the lid: for a mason jar, place the lid on top and screw on the ring, then loosen it one-half turn; for a wire-bale jar clamp down the lid.
Allow to ferment 4-5 weeks until all bubbling has ceased and peppers have lost their crunch. The peppers will be considerably reduced in volume, with quite a lot of brine at the bottom. This is a good thing, so the sauce will not be too thick.
Place dried tomatoes and optional chipotle peppers in a bowl. Ladle out enough of the brine to cover them, and let them sit overnight until softened. Purée the fermented peppers, rehydrated tomatoes and chipotles, and all the brine until smooth. Pour back into jar and let sit a day or two for flavors to meld, then bottle and refrigerate.