Monday, November 10, 2014

Pepper Sauce

Pepper sauce is a Southern favorite. It is very simple to make. Traditionally pepper sauce is eaten with collards, but it goes well with almost anything you want to make spicy. I like it on fried catfish. Use it like hot sauce. Here's the instructions, and my tips on adding magick.

You need hot peppers, vinegar, and jars or bottles.

You can buy pepper from the grocery store. Use any hot pepper you like be it wax pepper, jalapeno, or cayenne. You can mix peppers. My family insists at least one pepper in the jar should be red. For color. My mother likes to balance mild pepper and hot. She will add at least one slice of bell pepper, usually in yellow or orange. I don't know why everyone thinks it needs color. The color of the pepper has nothing to do with taste or spiciness.

I grow my own. Usually I take plants from my father who starts pepper seeds. It takes a very long time for pepper plants to mature. He starts his indoors in January. I don't have this much patience. If you are like me, buy some plants in the spring. Pepper plants are very pretty. I like to keep them in pots on the porch. Ground temperature determines the hotness of the pepper which is why the hottest peppers come from Mexico. Peppers cross breed easily so if you plant mild peppers beside hot you could get spicy mild peppers, not as hot hot, or many variations of the two. If you don't want any surprises either plant only one kind or plant them very far apart like on opposite sides of the yard. If I was going to plant seeds, I'd pick a day ruled by fire during a full moon.

You need at least enough peppers to fill your jar. Thus, how many peppers depends on the size of your jar. I have added dried peppers to my pepper sauce. It tastes fine. And dried peppers are red so there's that all important color my family believes to be essential.

I harvest my peppers fairly early in the day. I thank the plant for providing for my family. I sell my jars of pepper sauce. I usually have more customers than jars.

When I harvest peppers, I place them directly into my colander. Then I put the colander into the sink and rinse it with cold water to wash away any bugs. I don't use chemicals in my garden but if you do, remember to wait at least 24 hours to pick fruit or vegetables after spraying.

I leave the peppers in the sink to drain. Then I place my jars into the oven. I turn the oven to 200. I sterilize jars after I buy them. That way I know I always have clean jars. This heating is to give a good seal. And it is an added precaution of killing any germs that may have accumulated while the jars were in my pantry.

Heat up the vinegar. Most recipes say to heat the vinegar to a rolling boil. My aunt says the vinegar should be almost boiling. Just get it hot. I always heat more vinegar then I think I will need. If I don't use it all for the pepper sauce, I can pour it down the drain with baking soda to unclog pipes.

While the vinegar is heating, you can add spices. This is not necessary. I sometimes add chili powder, curry powder, or mustard seeds. It takes a lot of spice to change the flavor of the vinegar so when I add anything I am usually doing it for the magickal properties of the spice. All the spices I listed are for protection. You could also add herbs. Place basil leaves or sprigs of rosemary into the jar with the peppers. Get some purple basil and hey! more color.

Remove the stems from the peppers. Remove any pepper with a bad spot. Loosely pack the peppers into the jar, carefully because remember, we got it out of a 200 degree oven. Slowly pour the vinegar into the jar. Being clumsy, I wisely set my jars into the sink. The vinegar should completely cover the peppers. I don't let either one go past the rim of the jar. The peppers will probably float around and try to escape the jar. If this happens, add more peppers, you have too much space in the jar.

Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp cloth. Add the rim and lid. I press the lid down firmly but loosely attach the ring. After the jar has cooled and I don't need jar tongs or hot pads to handle it, I twist the ring all the way down.

Let the pepper sauce sit for at least three days. The peppers may soak up the vinegar causing the jar to look less than full. I have never had this problem but I see where it could happen so I bottle my sauce, then set it on my kitchen altar. Before I add the lid, I imagine each jar has a green dragon in it. I ask the dragon to bless the jar and to help find a buyer. When my husband brings home the money, I thank the dragons for helping us.

Should you ever run low on pepper sauce, just heat up more vinegar. The pepper won't go bad, the vinegar preserves it. Some people eat the peppers. But that's ok, you can add more pepper when you add the vinegar. Try to push the newer peppers to the bottom.

Which leads us to the seal. It's not needed. I don't bother heating up the jars when I am making pepper sauce for my family. I just think if I am sending something I cooked into the public then it should be as well made as possible and undoubtedly safe to eat.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Oh yum! I love pepper sauce. I never knew it was called that, but I knew I loved preserved pepper "juice" on everything. Eggs especially, oh and potatoes, and corn, and...now if I could just get my dog to stop eating my pepper plant long enough for it to bear fruit.