Last summer, I signed up for my first ever CSA – community supported agriculture – share with Patchwork Gardens, and excitedly began receiving a box of farm-fresh produce every Friday. It was something I had always wanted to do, but I could never justify the expense before. Now, that’s not to say it’s even expensive, but paying for the season up-front always seemed daunting to me. But last year, I wrote out my check and signed up, and started getting to know the people growing my food.
We enjoyed zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, beets, carrots, onions, leeks, greens, and so much more that I can’t even remember. At the time, I was drinking a green smoothie every day, so I would freeze the kale, spinach, and chard, and use it for smoothies. Alternatively, frozen greens were great to drop into a stew to add a little oomph, or to use in saag paneer – one of my favorite Indian dishes. I learned how to use zucchini in practically everything, since on top of the zukes we’d receive from the farm, we had a plant in our own garden producing more than we knew what to do with.
One week, I was unable to pick up my veggies myself, so I sent my husband. Apparently, they asked him if he liked hot peppers, and he said he did. As a result, we had about 30 fresh cayenne peppers that week, plus a few unknowns. I had no idea what to do with them – I love peppers, but even I can’t get through that many! So I started googling. And I decided the best course of action was to use them to make my own hot sauce.
I threw the whole lot in my Vitamix (otherwise known as the best invention ever) and ground them up into a “mash.” I then mixed the pureed peppers with some salt, threw them in a mason jar, and put it in the basement where the fumes wouldn’t make my eyeballs explode. The idea was to let them ferment for about a month, then mix the fermented pepper gunk with some vinegar and enjoy all-natural hot sauce.
That was last August.
Fast-forward to today, and I realized I still had this pepper puree fermenting merrily in my basement. It looked fine – the jar was sealed, so everything was good. I threw it back into my Vitamix, added a mixture of apple cider and balsamic vinegars, and blended the crap out of it. I then braved a tiny taste… and it was good! Not overly spicy to where I wanted to die, but enough that it was obviously hot sauce. It’s pretty vinagary, but in a good way, and I’m excited to start using it on things and in recipes. Also… there’s a lot. So I’d better get on with that.
Are you a hot sauce fan? Have you ever tried making your own?
I love my hot sauce, but this was my first attempt at homemade. It was easy (so easy I forgot about it for over six months), and I’d definitely do it again!
What’s the hottest pepper you’ve ever tried?
I also received a ghost pepper from the farm, but I made a spicy-food-loving coworker eat it while I watched. It looked painful.