If you have ever thought of pepper-spraying your entire family, but didn’t have the nerve, well, I have an idea for you.
We are now in my very favourite time of the year, because it’s still hot enough to run around without sleeves but the produce is at its most awesome, and I can’t stop blowing my paycheque on ridiculous quantities of stone fruit, tomatoes, and peppers. Nick swore out loud on Sunday when I decided his penance for a weekend camping trip was to Tetris the hundred pounds of farm market bounty I’d managed to lug home into the fridge; there is simply no more room, and I can’t stop. It’s too good. It’s all too good.
“You have to do something about this,” he said, shoving the door closed. “No one needs this much damn zucchini.”
Well, I beg to differ. Let’s not even talk about everything that’s suddenly ripe in the garden. Nick certainly doesn’t want to talk about it.
So, because I am responsible and have an unlimited tolerance for a humid, sweltering apartment, I have been canning the many things I brought home, because the only thing that makes Nick happier than a fridge that won’t close are cupboards that can’t contain the groceries. I made hot sauce. It’s basically sriracha, but green.
We all paid a little bit for this, but it was worth it. Open a window if you do this; if you have a camp stove or a barbecue with a side burner, then cook this outside. Or, if everyone you live with is being a real jerk about the harvest season, then reduce a pound and a half of hot peppers with all their seeds right smack in the middle of your 900 square-foot apartment and listen to them whine and whine and whine.
They’ll forget all about it when they’re spooning green gold onto their sausages come February.
Note: Ideally you will make this using a food mill. If you don’t have a food mill, start by seeding the peppers (if you don’t want this hot-damn hot), then process in a blender or food processor before proceeding to the simmering/reduction stage. The finished product is not too too hot; it’s flavourful with a nice, slow burn.
Homemade green hot sauce
(Makes about five 250mL/1-cup jars.)
- 1 1/2 lbs. serrano or jalapeño peppers, or a combination
- 1 lb. onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled
- 3 cups distilled white vinegar
- 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 4 tsp. Kosher salt
Remove the stems from your peppers and chop them roughly. Throw them into a heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pot (such as enameled cast iron or stainless steel) with all the other ingredients, and bring them to a simmer over medium-high heat.
Cover, and cook for 15 minutes until soft.
Meanwhile, sterilize 5 jars in a large stock pot; you’ll want to boil the jars in water that comes to about two inches over the tops of the jars. Boil for 20 minutes.
Remove the chilies from the heat, and spoon the peppers and liquid into a food mill positioned over a large glass bowl. Process through the food mill until there’s nothing more running through. Scrape the bottom of the food mill into the bowl.
Pour strained pepper mixture back into your pot, return to medium heat, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until reduced by about half.
Spoon into sterilized jars and wipe the rims with a piece of damp paper towel. Tap the jars to dislodge any trapped air. Place sterilized lids on top, then screw on the rings; you want them just tight enough that they’re closed, but that you could still unscrew using your thumb and finger. Process the sealed jars in boiling water for an additional ten minutes. Remove using canning tongs and let cool for 24 hours. Check that jars are sealed, and then store sealed jars in a cool, dark place. Spoon the vinegary, garlicky pungent stuff over February’s wintry food and relive the magic of a fridge brimming with life.