the Sweet Smell of Burning Fur (plonq) wrote,
the Sweet Smell of Burning Fur

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Pepper Sauce

We cleaned out our garden beds a the week before last when it was starting to look like our weather was going to transition directly from summer to winter, giving fall a miss. We usually see a slow transition, with at least a few warm days leading into October, but as I type this it is dropping to sub-zero temperatures and snowing outside, so I think we made the right call.

[personal profile] atara cleaned out her garden beds, and I moved all of the potted plants into the garage for the night so that we could deal with them in the morning. That ended up being a very wise move because it unexpectedly dropped below freezing overnight and we got snow in some parts of the city. When we checked on the basil and peppers the next day, they were unhappy, but not dead. The two of us stood out in blustery winds and finger-numbing cold to harvest the majority of the basil (it was a bumper harvest, so we were pickier than usual about the quality of the leaves we kept). We managed to harvest a crazy amount of basil which, once processed, resulted in a surprisingly small quantity of pesto.

Once we had cleaned out the basil, [personal profile] atara went back inside and left me to deal with my Jalapeños. That is, I had five of those and a mystery pepper that was apparently misfiled at the nursery. It produced round peppers that turned yellow when they ripened. They had a bite, but they were sweeter and slightly milder than the Jalapeños. I processed all of the peppers - red, yellow and green - into a batch of hot pepper sauce using a recipe I'd found on the Internet.

This is actually the second sauce I'd made - I harvested many of the ripe peppers about a week and a half earlier and turned them into pepper sauce using the same recipe. The results from the first batch seemed to be turning out OK, so I figured it was worth repeating. The first batch, made with all ripe peppers, ended up an orange-pink colour, and the second batch was a muddy, yellow-brown. Not unsurprisingly, the second batch packs more heat than the first, since the peppers tend to lose some of their heat when they ripen, and most of the peppers in the second batch were green.

When I made the first batch, I did not entirely stick to the recipe and added other ingredients that I'd seen suggested other places. When it was done, I sampled it and found it to be way too vinegar-forward. Vinegar is a key ingredient, but I did not think it should dominate the flavour like that. I partly blamed myself because I'd used 50/50 apple cider vinegar and white vinegar, even through the recipe did not actually call for a specific vinegar. The recipe also suggested letting the sauce age in the fridge for a couple of weeks before trying it, so I put it at the back of the refrigerator and hoped for the best.

I tried it a week later, and the vinegar flavour had definitely mellowed. Another week later the peppers were the dominant flavour, and the vinegar had receded into the background as more of a carrier than a flavour. It is still there, I think in part to the inclusion of the apple cider vinegar. I think my only complaint with the first batch of sauce is that it is sweeter than I'd like. The second sauce (which still needs another week to age) is coming together nicely. I used a lower ratio of apple cider vinegar in it, and coupled with it having more green than red peppers, it is less sweet than the first. When I tasted the second batch on the weekend, I worried that I had not added enough salt, and I considered adding more. When I tasted it again this evening, I was glad that I had not succumbed to the urge. I think it has the right amount of salt.

Overall, the second batch is shaping up to be the hotter, potentially-tastier of the two. So far my only complaint with it is that I ran it through too course of a sieve and it has ... bits in it. When I processed the peppers, I kept the seeds, and there are little seed pieces in this sauce. I imagine I can fix that by running it through a finer sieve when I transfer it to bottles (or whatever final containers I use for it).
Tags: cooking, culinary, peppers, sauce
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