Homemade Hot Sauces

Faced with a bumper chile pepper crop? Or maybe you bought a couple pounds at your local farmers' market because they were so pretty? Or maybe you’ve one too many times stood in front of a hot sauce display at your local specialty foods store and thought, “I could totally make some homemade hot sauce!” Well, now you can.  The homemade stuff is easy, inexpensive to make, and tastes better than what you can find at the store. And it’s endlessly modifiable — all you really need is peppers, vinegar and salt. Like garlic? Add it. Don’t? Leave it out. Got a half jar of strawberry jam sitting in the door of your fridge? It would be great in an otherwise standard jalapeño hot sauce (I can personally vouch for that). The possibilities really are limitless. For storage, I recommend a glass jar — you can sterilize the jar if you like, but either way you should keep these sauces in the refrigerator. If you are looking for a shelf-stable hot sauce, check out your local agricultural extension website or the National Center for Home Food Preservation for time and safety-tested recipes.


Blackberry Chipotle hot sauce

Recipe developed by Vanessa Oliver, MS, RD, LD

Ingredients
2 6-oz. flats fresh blackberries
2 cans chipotle in adobo
⅓ cup distilled white or cider vinegar
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Remove any stems from the chipotles. Puree all ingredients in blender or food processor until smooth. Strain for a thinner sauce; leave as is for a thicker condiment. Unstrained, this will be about the consistency of homemade ketchup. Keeps in refrigerator for 4-6 weeks.

Salsa Verde

Recipe developed by Vanessa Oliver, MS, RD, LD

Ingredients
1 lb. fresh tomatillos, husked
½ white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeño, chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 cups vegetable stock or water

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the tomatillos are soft — about 15 minutes. Puree in small batches until smooth, or use a stick blender to puree in the pot. Keeps in refrigerator for 2 weeks.

Simple hot sauce

Recipe developed by Vanessa Oliver, MS, RD, LD

Ingredients
1 lb. fresh chiles (try cayenne or jalapeño, or habañero if you’re feeling extra brave! Or a mix of your favorites.)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 ½ cups distilled white vinegar or cider vinegar

Directions

  1. Remove any stems from the peppers, along with seeds and ribs if you want to temper some of those Scoville units. Puree peppers and salt in a food processor or blender until a rough paste forms. Transfer to a 1-quart glass jar, loosely cover with a towel, and let stand 12 hours. This will ferment the peppers slightly to add more flavor.
  2. Twelve hours later, add the vinegar and loosely screw on lid. Let this mixture stand 1 to 7 days at room temperature. Taste it daily to see how the flavor develops and changes. The longer it sits, the more flavorful it will be.
  3. When you are satisfied with the flavor, puree mixture until smooth and strain through a cheesecloth-lined strainer into a clean glass bottle. Will keep in refrigerator 4-6 months. This may separate over time in the fridge, so shake before each use.
Vanessa Oliver
Vanessa Oliver, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian and wellness specialist with the University of Kentucky Health and Wellness Program. She is mad for hiking, farmers markets and Sunday cooking.