Hot sauce addiction can be an expensive hobby – just ask my husband, who brings hot sauce on holiday with us, and probably only shies away from bringing it out to restaurants or friends’ homes because he knows I’ll tut-tut him… The really hot stuff, made with the really high-Scoville rated chillies, costs a fair whack.
For that reason, but more so because we all know DIY is so rewarding, we’ve been growing super hot chillies and making sauce with them for the past few summers. I tend to wing it, so each batch has been a little different until I forced myself to write down a recipe as I went, with the last batch.
So here’s our general method for making a hellishly hot sauce – bearing in mind that you can replace the chillies with whatever kind you have – go milder if you like (I like) by using milder varieties or removing seeds and white inner pith, experiment with different spirits other than tequila, lemon in place of lime, different vinegars. The picture above shows both the hot sauce from this recipe and one made with a yellow variety which is less hot and more fruity.
A few things to NOT change, though:
- Never skip sterilising your bottles and jars
- Never skip heating the ingredients to be bottled
- Don’t cut down too much on the vinegar as it’s a preservative
- Mixing green chillies with red will result in a muddy coloured sauce so you probably want to avoid that
- Wear gloves. And even so, FFS don’t touch anything afterwards until you’ve scrubbed your hands and made sure there’s no remnants lurking. The same goes for chopping boards, knives, blender parts etc – deep clean in dishwasher recommended.
Hot AF Sauce
2 sweet red peppers or small red capsicums
4 cloves locally grown garlic
200g super hot chillies (we use our homegrown Bhut Jolokia, Carolina Reaper, Trinidad Scorpion)
1 cup white vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup tequila
- Slice red peppers and onions and lay in a roasting dish with garlic cloves. Drizzle over some olive oil. Roast at 190℃ for 40 minutes until cooked through and starting to caremelise.
- Meanwhile remove the stalks from the chillis. Do this carefully, making sure you don’t waste any of the precious red flesh. If you prefer your sauce without seeds, you can remove them, but there is a lot of heat in seeds so you’ll lose some of that, and if you have a good blender you can blitz most of the seeds anyway. You’ll have about 150g of chillies after removing the stalks. Slice the chillies and place in a large saucepan or Thermomix bowl.
- Add vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil then turn down heat to a fast simmer and cook for 10 minutes or so.
- Add the peppers, onion and garlic from the roasting dish to the chillies and cook at fast simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the lime just at the end of the cooking/stirring process. Add the tequila once you’ve turned off the element and stir it in.
- Let cool for 10 minutes at least, then blitz in blender (in a Thermomix, speed 10 will do it), for a few rounds, scraping the sides of the jug down in between blitzes.
- Carefully decant into (ideally still-hot) sterilised bottles. Gently tap the bottom of bottles to remove air bubbles. Crew caps on tight.
- Let the sauce mellow for a week or two before serving. As long as you’ve sterilised your bottles well and followed all these steps, this HAF sauce will keep for yonks in your pantry. If you have small amounts leftover after bottling, just pop into a small jar or container and store in the fridge where it’ll keep for a good while too.