Adventures in Canningland Pt. 1


Today is the first day of my week-long vacation.  I had planned on spending the day slaving over the pots and bottles involved with making homemade hot sauce.  Naturally, it had to be 80+ degrees out today, so that quickly got scratched. However, I have pretty much gathered everything together that is needed, so that tomorrow I will be able to get everything going without much prep.  Smart move on my part!

This post will be quite heavy with pictures, so please be patient and wait for everything to load.  While I’m not the world’s most awesome photographer, hopefully they will be interesting and add spice to the post.  Spice… hot sauce… yeah, I am a regular Shakespeare here!

First off, it’s always important to have a baseline on how to make hot sauce.  I know that I have an old recipe from like the Middle Ages, but can I find it?  Absolutely not!  So I am pulling from two different recipes – one in an old cookbook from a church, and an internet recipe.

Hot sauce can be a tricky beast.  Half the time a recipe will not tell you what type of hot pepper to use.  So you have to know your limits on the “Oh my god this is so hot I’m going to die” scale.  I am using three types of hot peppers for my sauce:

Starting with the upper left we have Habenero peppers.  Lethal in their own right, coming in at 100,000-350,000 on the Scoville scale, but wonderful flavor.  The largest peppers are the hot Hungarian peppers.  In my experience, you never know exactly how hot these puppies will be until you are halfway through it, thinking everything is cool.  They generally rate between 3,500-8,000 on the Scoville scale. Lastly on the lower left is the ghastly Ghost Chili.  It is most commonly used to make police grade pepper sprays, and clocks in at well over 1,000,000 Scoville units.  Needless to say, I may not use all of these.  A very kind gentleman in Erie allowed us to take a few for our sauce.  Thank you, kind gentleman in Erie. The plan with all of these lethal little buggers is to throw them on the grill in the morning and get them nice and charred.  And then I will throw them gradually into the sauce, seeds and all.  I am planning on starting with a couple Hungarians, 3-4 Habeneroes and one ghost.  Adjustments will be made from there.

I will also be throwing the onions and garlic on the fire to char up.  Wrapping the garlic in foil and allowing it to roast will give it a wonderful sweet aspect, without all of the horrible garlic breath.  The onions I will cut in half and let them char in the skins.  Garlic gets cut in half, drizzled with a small amount of olive oil and wrapped in the foil.

Herbs will be added fresh from the garden.  Parsley, thyme and oregano.  Don’t put too oregano in, otherwise you will end up with really hot spaghetti sauce, and that’s not what we want.  Understand though, I am making ALOT of  sauce.  So whatever amounts I mention would be for a boatload and a half of hot sauce.

I really want a great smoky flavor to the sauce.  The addition of amazing smoked paprika (another pepper) and this unbelievable hickory smoked salt is going to boost that smokiness.  I purchased both of these from one of my favorite Amish stores.

After everything has cooked for a while, but not too much, I will run it through this, a food mill.  If you have one of these, you do not need to worry about peeling your tomatoes, which is nothing short of a royal, and I mean really royal pain in the ass.  Everything simply gets milled through, which also leaves a bit of texture but removes all seeds, stems, and other stuff that you may not want in your sauce.

I’ve spent days gathering bottles for this project.  Many, many bottles.  Everything from Chambord liquor bottles to old sauce bottles.  I have gathered about 30 bottles… I plan on filling every single one of them, if not more.  They will be given to co-workers and stored away for winter.  Homemade hot sauce is really great on fried or scrambled eggs, or home fries, french fries… whatever.

Some other additions will include carrots, celery, brown sugar and vinegar.  But that stuff isn’t terribly exciting.  Although my carrots from the garden do come in a variety of colors.Tomorrow I will begin to make the sauce.  I promise lots of pictures and the finished product!

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