Hot Sauce

Still feeling generally lousy from shingles (or, for you shinglites out there “Post Herpetic Neuralgia“), and in the absence of some healing warm weather and sunshine, I decided to sooth myself with a bit of cooking.

Last year was a fabulous pepper year, and we had hot Limons coming in daily from August to November. These small (about 2″ long) bright yellow peppers are one of the most delicious of the extremely hot Andean peppers. Its flavor is unsurpassed, and though it’s not direct sunshine, it is yellow and hot—and that’s close enough for me right now.

I have frozen them and dried them, and generally prefer drying since you can do so much with them. This winter I smoked, flaked, powdered and today transformed some of those dried beauties into a batch of Limon Hot Sauce.

I make this every year, and every year the recipe varies depending on what’s available here on the farm. Because all our own apples were gone by the time I got around to making the sauce this year, we bought a few at our local organic store and splurged on a mango, too. (One year I used vine peaches, and the result was fabulous.)

Though the sauce doesn’t look like much in a photo, once in the mouth it’s an entirely different story. I’m sure this is great for one’s health (all that toasty capsaicin, of course) and can bring eggs, beans, meat—just about anything, actually—to a new taste high. The sugar in the recipe tones the heat just a bit and brings out that unique, wonderful Limon flavor.

For the adventurers out there, here’s this year’s recipe, which made about 10 cups. I start by estimating the number of ½ or 1 pint canning jars I’ll need, and place them in a 225-250º oven to sterilize them.; this only takes about 20 minutes, but longer doesn’t hurt so I leave them in the oven until I’m ready for them.

By the way, if you need to handle the peppers do wear protective gloves; and resist dropping your nose to the pan for a good sniff—between the peppers and the cooking vinegar it will feel like you scalded your nose and throat.

  • ¾ qt. dried Limon peppers (halved and seeded before drying); frozen works well, and of course fresh is excellent, too
  • 4 apples and 1 mango, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 2 C sugar (I used evaporated cane juice; honey would probably work, too)
  • 2 T brown sugar (we make our own with evap. cane and molasses)
  • ⅓ C maple syrup
  • 1 heaping T ground ginger
  • 3 T salt (2 T if using sea salt)
  • 3 T Dijon mustard (homemade hot mustard is terrific, but we’re out)
  • 3 C cider vinegar (I used our own; Braggs is great, too—both have live mother)
  • 2 small onions, chopped

Cook until peppers are soft (about 30 min. for frozen, as much as an hour for dried peppers) in a covered saucepan over low heat. Puree in food processor until smooth, return to the pan and reheat to boiling. Stir frequently to prevent sticking or burning. Add

  • 2 T lime juice

and bring to boil again. Fill the sterlized jars immediately with the heated sauce, cap with canning lids and cover with plastic storage lids (also made by Ball to fit canning jars). Cool to room temperature, then store indefinitely in the refrigerator.

If you give this a try, let me know how yours turns out, and any ingredient variations you tried!

Vive la salsa!!

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