Homemade Hot Sauce
This article was originally published in June 2017
Here’s a little secret: Hot sauce is a great starting point for the novice cook interested in creating condi-ments. A few simple ingredients and a near-foolproof process are all you need to crank up the heat and add pizzazz to your summertime meals.
Step 1: Pick your peppers
For those with a lower heat tolerance, choose mildly hot chile peppers like Anaheim or Poblano. If you prefer a kick in the mouth, try habanero or Serrano. Select firm and brightly colored chiles with shiny, unblemished skins.
While you can keep the peppers raw, roasting them will develop flavor and add complexity. Cooking chiles will mellow their heat, too, while leaving them raw with their ribs and seeds will give you the full brunt of their spice. To roast, place the chiles under a broiler until the skin is charred and blistered, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Step 2: Choose an acid
The addition of acid helps draw out the flavor and preserve the ingredients. White vinegar is most commonly used and found in many classic Louisiana-style sauces. Fruits like mango or pineapple can help cut a spicy habanero’s heat. And a touch of lime juice will boost flavor.
Step 3: Add aromatics
Aromatics, such as carrots, onions, garlic and ginger, are what differentiate harissa from nam prik from any number of other hot sauces found in pepper-loving countries around the world. They allow room for creativity. Pick your favorite flavors and throw them in a pot with the chiles, vinegar and water — the more water you use, the thinner the sauce. And don’t forget salt!
Step 4: Simmer and blend
Bring the ingredients to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables start to break down. Carefully purée all the ingredients in a processor or blender. Allow the sauce to come to room temperature, then pour it into a clean glass jar. Your fresh, homemade hot sauce will keep up to two weeks in the refrigerator.