Category Archives: Condiments

Making green hot sauce

A followup to the  post.

Since I got a new blender*, and the peppers were well pickled, I decided to whiz them into hot sauce today.

The pickled peppers, with the brine bags out of the top and any scum and dried salt wiped off the neck of the jar.

I held the peppers in the jar with a fork, and drained the brine off into a cup. It’s not as hot as I was expecting, but it should still be useful in cooking.

The peppers were barely covered by the brine, and it picked up a lot of color and flavor. Yes, those mugs are super-cutesy, but I couldn’t resist. 😉 There are cows and sheep, too. They feel good in my hand.

Not really related, but I had to move this leftover fresh homegrown tomato salsa I made yesterday (with a green chile off the same plant 🙂 ) out of the blender cup before I could use it for this sauce. (The storage lids are very handy.) The color mostly turned out light because I accidentally totally puréed the onion in there, and I had to finely hand-chop some more tomato to add for chunkiness. But it turned out delicious!

Appropriately, it went into a salsa jar. 🙂 And it is pretty hot.

Time to purée!

I wasn’t sure how much vinegar it would need, so I started off with about 1/4 cup/65mL. It took another tablespoon/15 mL or so, judging by repeated taste testing. I used white wine vinegar, because I thought cider might overwhelm the flavor. It did also end up needing a pinch of salt (on top of what it picked up in the brine) and about half a teaspoon/2.5 mL of sugar, to round the flavor out with the green chiles not having developed the ripe hint of sweetness yet. Just that little bit really helped bring out the flavor of the peppers.

Whizzed!

It didn’t look nearly that green in reality, but very yellow. I guess I need more practice in adjusting color levels so that the end result doesn’t just turn out looking weirder, but I didn’t even try with these photos. All of them look much greener than they really were. But, besides the phone camera factor, the lighting in our kitchen is really freaking bad; not only is it all overhead fluorescent, one of the two tubes needs replaced.

I didn’t much like the yellow color, so I added a little bit of totally optional green food coloring.(The only kind we have! I have yet to see one of the boxes with small bottles of different colors here, but for some reason I picked up a bigger bottle of green several years ago, for one use.)

I took the container to natural light to try to get a better view of the actual color after adding a bit of green. It still looks too vibrant, but you can get a little better idea of the consistency after blending.

The texture looked OK, so I went ahead and put it in a jar to heat process. It probably wouldn’t mold or anything, stored in the fridge, with that amount of added vinegar, but better safe than sorry. We don’t have any suitable empty bottles right now, so I just poured it into a jar so we can put it into a bottle later.

I started out putting it in a “closed up tightly right after it dried from the dishwasher” peanut butter jar, but that would have meant using our biggest pot to make sure it was totally covered for the water bath. (And me still without jar tongs…) Plus, it had more headroom than it needed, so I moved it into another jar the same as the salsa one above.

Adjusted so it’s overexposed, still lurid green…

Yes, we can still get glass peanut butter jars** here, with metal lids. I prefer that to plastic, especially for something as fatty as peanut butter, which might get more crud leached into it from the plastic container.

I wasn’t sure how long to give it in the water bath, but I figured 20 minutes at the boil would probably be good. Especially with it starting out room temperature; otherwise, maybe 15. Again, better safe!

Just tighten the lid, and put the jar in a pot of water to bring it up to the boil, then time from then. You’d probably have to turn the burner down some to keep the jar from dancing around as wildly, and keep a kettle of hot water in case you need to top it up to make sure the water level stays over top of the  jar(s). In the interests of safety, here is a more complete description from Virginia Cooperative Extension (based at my old university 🙂 ): Boiling Water Bath Canning – Including Jams, Jellies, and Pickled Products.

Note: They say not to use other than jars with two-piece lids. You may want to follow that, to be safe. As long as I inspect the lids to make sure the seal is good, I don’t worry about reusing pickle, mayonnaise, etc. jars, especially for higher-acid things like pickled items and jams which are less likely to grow really dangerous stuff. (Yes, I am semi-paranoid, and water bath process jams instead of using an open kettle method. I did grow up eating a lot of pickles and jams/jellies done that way, and nobody ever got hurt, but yeah.) If they seal properly as they cool down, it’s OK by my standards. That also goes for reusing some two-part lids, if they’re not bent at the rim from prying off and the seal rubber still looks good. I’ve also never had a jar break while being heated or anything like that. But, it’s your choice.

A while back, I ran across a tip to add a splash of vinegar to the water if it’s hard enough to leave mineral residue on your jars. We have liquid chalk, so it seemed worth a try. And it worked! 🙂 (I grew up on limestone karst, and seriously never saw any water as hard as what comes out of the spigot from the London Chalk basin. And I’m used to seeing spring and well water that will have actual flakes of lime floating around in it when it’s cold. Our toilet tried to grow stalactites around the rim here.)

At this point, about halfway through, I’d usually expect a white scum of lime on top of the water in the pot. The water is that hard. Bad photo with all the steam, but you can at least see that there’s no scum at all.

I still need to get a taller pot than our biggest one, for canning bigger than pint/500mL jars. But, this is a pretty good illustration of one of my points in the  post: you don’t have to do the kind of overwhelmingly big batches at a time that I grew up seeing. You can stick something in a single small jar and use any pot tall enough that the lid is safely covered by an inch/2.5cm or so of water, without it threatening to overflow the pot.

The sauce did a weird separation thing from the boiling. I’m guessing that shaking will take care of that. The color here is particularly weird, though the watery stuff at the bottom really is showing more of the added color.

And, that’s my first try at making a hot sauce. 🙂 Like other pickled items, we’ll probably let it sit for at least a couple of weeks for the flavors to meld and mellow before trying it.

But, with the taste tests while making it, removing most of the seeds and membranes did seem to take the heat down a lot. I was half-expecting super-super-hot results from the little Thai peppers, even so, but it came out milder. Still with a pretty good bite, of course. 😉

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* I’d been wanting a new blender for a while, since the stick blender we were using got some kind of short and started shocking me. 😐 That one went away, but it took a while to remember to get a replacement; I also put it off, because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to bring a blender/food processor combo in to take up space in the cabinets. Not long ago, I was watching some excellent, mostly Punjabi food cooking videos, and was impressed at how well the Magic Bullet blender seemed to be working for him. Pureeing onions, garlic and ginger for a smooth sauce? Very quick and easy-looking. Cooking for two, in a small kitchen, I also liked the idea of its having small blending containers and a small enough footprint that I can just leave the base unit on the counter, instead of wrestling the whole thing in and out of a cabinet every time I want to use it. (Bending down is still a problem for me, with the celiac osteomalacia. If we had other storage space for pots and pans, I wouldn’t even keep them in the bottom cabinets.) It does also have a full-sized blender container, which I haven’t even washed to use yet.

So, I decided to try it, and ordered one (not from JML). After several days’ use, I really like it. The mugs with handles are particularly handy for making icy smoothies–often banana and some ice cubes, with a splash of orange juice–which I had missed with lunch or for a quick snack. (The stick blender wasn’t up to that, either.) We’ll have to see how it holds up. But, so far, I would definitely recommend this model.  I usually avoid “as seen on TV” products, but this one actually seems to be a good one.

** This really didn’t fit in the post at all, but I just had to throw in a shot of the house brand we’ve been getting at LIDL:

Screamingly “American”, all right. 😀 I guess you can’t just call it “McDonald’s” or “Kennedy”, but the weird mashup probably sounds great if you are making “American” food in Germany. It’s not quite as funny as some of the “American” packaging on the Japanese market, but… (Shame I couldn’t track down one post with photos of some of that which had me laughing, a couple of years ago.) At some point, I should probably do a post with some of the “American” stuff  here in the UK. Unlike with the peanut butter, I usually would not have figured that out without all the stars and stripes, I tell you what.

I can’t resist laughing, but it’s really good peanut butter of the 96% actual peanut kind. And cheap. I haven’t actually seen any for sale in the UK which is so heavily bulked out with shortening and sugar as most of the stuff back in the US, which is fine by me. (Other than imported Skippy, etc.)