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Feeling hot hot hot! (Pepper sauce and dried chilis!)

peppersaucepowderSince this year for the first time ever my pepper patch sort of exploded, it was time to brave another of those recipes for “things I know get made somehow but I never quite really thought about it”–two, actually. This week I made hot pepper sauce and dried chili powder, both for the first time. Both ridiculously easy, if a little time-consuming–and it’s low-maintenance time, so no problem there.

Yes, I’m supposed to be writing my dissertation now, but I wanted to write this down before I lose the links and/or forget how, as easy as it was:

Hot Pepper Sauce

  • In a blender, cut up a bunch of hot peppers, preferably several varieties at varying levels of hotness, but it’s up to you. Take out the stems, but leave everything else. Use gloves, or a baggie over your hands. If you ignore this last piece of advice, whatever you do, don’t rub your eyes or pick your nose for several hours and washings afterward.
  • Pour some white vinegar over the peppers in the blender. Recipes I found say to pour enough to cover the peppers, but I didn’t; I maybe half-covered them. Also toss in a small handful of salt. (I did maybe a teaspoon for what amounted to a cup and a half of sauce. It’s up to you.)
  • (Next time I’m going to throw a couple of garlic cloves in there as well…)
  • Blend on high speed till smooth. Or as smooth as you’d like, anyway.
  • Transfer pepper puree into a saucepan and bring to a boil on medium heat. At no time between opening the blender and boiling the liquid should you put your face in range of the fumes. This stuff is serious.
  • After the liquid boils, turn off the heat and let cool, covered, for an hour or two. Transfer to a mason jar and refrigerate for several days.
  • After a few days, you should see the pepper sauce settling into two layers; the vinegar floats to the top, and the peppers sink to the bottom. This is good. Skim off as much of the vinegar layer as you can, and re-refrigerate. Taste cautiously, and then use to your heart’s content.

This stuff should keep a really long time, but I leave others to do their own research on that. My very first batch is ugly as sin (mostly because the peppers in it were a good mixture of green and red, thus the sauce is sort of sludge-colored), but it’s delicious.

Dried Ground Chilis

This took a little more work but was also really easy…

  • De-stem and cut up a bunch of chili peppers of varying varieties; we mixed the hot skinny mystery peppers from the garden with some basic ordinary jalapenos; next time I’m going to add banana peppers and poblanos to the mix for more flavors and less heat…(Wear gloves. See above.)
  • Scatter loosely on a cookie sheet on parchment paper so there is plenty of room to circulate; set oven on its lowest setting and put the peppers in for a total of 24 hours or so. Ideally you want something between 120 and 140 degrees; my oven only goes as low as 175, so I alternated on and off–5 hours on, 5 hours off, overnight on, morning off, and so on. The key is to dry them, not to cook them.
  • At the end of this time, carefully check the peppers; if they are absolutely solid and brittle, without a hint of flexibility, they are ready. If they have any bend to them, put them back for another 10-12 hours. You want every bit of moisture pulled out.
  • Once they are ready, you have options: You can store them almost indefinitely in their chunky dried form and grind them later, or you can put them into a blender or food processor or, I guess, spice grinder and pulverize them as much as you want–you can stop at “red pepper flakes” for sprinkling onto pizza or take it all the way to “chili powder.” This would also be a good time to add other spices, like cumin or garlic or oregano, so you’ll just have an awesome mixture to toss into your chili whenever you make it. (You can do your own internet search for that!)

So…that’s it! Really easy, and pretty seriously yummy, and I can’t wait to keep going with the dozen or so peppers still out there doing their peppery thing in the garden…