Growth is a double edged sword. Unchecked, growth can be cancerous and destructive. It is this type of ceaseless expansion that has put our society into the precarious environmental and financial positions in which we currently find ourselves. On the other hand, growth can be regenerative and life-giving. Following a forest fire or a bitter winter, the first green shoots to emerge from the earth bear witness to the earth's ability to restore life in the wake of disaster.

My goal for this blog is pretty simple and open-ended: I want to document and share with family and friends my efforts to incorporate an ever increasing degree of self sufficiency, voluntary simplicity, and environmentally-conscious design into my life as a would be urban homesteader.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hot Sauce

Spicy food occupies a special place in my palette. Chili, Indian food, chicken wings, pizza. eggs, you name it - the hotter the better. Next to tomatoes, I have more varieties of hot peppers than any other plant. I'm always looking for different things to do with them. I found a recipe in Mother Earth News for a Tabasco brand-style hot sauce. Personally, Tabasco isn't my favorite type of hot sauce, but the recipe sounded interesting. It called for fermenting the peppers in brine for 4-5 weeks. I chopped a bunch of jalapeno, tobago, and pablano peppers, mixed in some salt and water, and let them sit. After 4 weeks, I mixed in a little white wine vinegar and let it sit for another week. In the end, this is what it looked like.

I tasted the liquid. I was spicy and very salty. The recipe was rather ambiguous about the amount of salt to add, and apparently I added a bit much. Undeterred, I strained the mixture through a cloth to separate out the pepper bits and seeds. I then used a makeshift sieve to get all of the seeds out of the pulp.

I heated the pulp, and mixed in some tomato paste, honey, brown sugar, coriander, and ginger. As per usual, I was making this up on the fly. I was hoping for something sweet, spicy, and vaguely exotic. It came out pretty good. Thin enough to mix into soup, but thick enough to put on a sandwich. I liked it enough to call it a success.
The liquid was a different story. It was so overwhelmingly salty that I wasn't sure what to do with it. I heated it up to boiling, added butter and sugar in an effort to balance the flavor out some. Ummm... I suppose it worked. The sauce was less salty, but calling it good might be a bit of an overstatement. I kept it, but I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with it. I the future, I'm going to use far less salt in the brine. Here's the final product:

This is a link to the original recipe at Mother Earth News. The article promises to help you save money. To be honest, I'm not sure how much hot sauce you need to consume in order to save an appreciable amount of money by making your own. At any rate, give it a try and enjoy!

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