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Monday, August 12, 2013

All hail the mighty habanero!!

Ahhhh, the habanero.  These little beauties are full of flavor and full of heat.  When I was first learning how to cook, I made the unfortunate mistake of putting three of them (seeds and all) into a pot of Jambalaya, because ya know, they're small, right?  And since I put all the time and effort into making it, I was determined to eat it (even if it meant drinking a half gallon of milk and eating 3 pieces of bread while doing it....).  This was years ago, and since I haven't used them in quite some time, I had forgotten exactly how hot they actually were.  Imagine my excitement when I pulled that first little orange guy off my pepper plant.  I was so excited I decided to make salsa with it.  Now, my husband and I both like spicy food.  I, however, tolerate mine a bit spicier than he does.  I love love LOVE sriricha sauce (that Asian hot sauce with the rooster on the bottle).  I eat hot pepper flakes on my pizza.  I've been known to just pop a piece of jalapeno or two in my mouth while cooking.  So when I decided to use my first little habanero in the fresh salsa I was making, I decided I needed to test the heat so as not to kill my hubby's taste buds.  I painstakingly roasted it on the grill along with my other veggies and brought it inside.  I then took the tiniest most microscopic little taste of it.  Out of my mouth comes "Oooh, that's del - OHMYGOD!".  Cue the binge milk drinking and eating sour cream directly out of the container with a spoon.  I was actually talking funny and my mouth burned for roughly an hour.  Believe me when I say habaneros are not toys.  I repeat - Habaneros. Are.  NOT.  Toys.  These little buggers are hot hot HOT.  Their Scoville scale rating is 100,000 - 300,000.  Bear in mind that a jalapeno is rated about 2,500 - 10,000 and the dreaded ghost chili comes in at a whopping 330,000 - about 1,000,000, if that puts it into perspective.  Bottom line - they are hot.  As hot as they are, unless you like things really spicy, you do not need more than half of one to spice up a dish.  So, imagine my "problem" when I looked at my beautiful habanero and saw this:
So pretty!
What in the world is a girl to do with this many habaneros?  Sure, I could freeze them, but am I really going to use all those?  Remember, this is just the beginning of my harvest - pepper season is now in full swing and I have so many more hanging, waiting to ripen.  I contemplated putting them in my food dehydrator and making habanero flakes, but I feared what concentrating those oils mixed with the heat of the dehydrator would do to my eyes and nose.  So I settled on the next logical thing - hot sauce!  I started researching recipes, seeing how others made use of these little guys.  So many possibilities!  What I was looking for was something sweet and hot, but not so hot that I wouldn't want to eat it. I decided to cut the habaneros with hungarian wax peppers and carrots.  The wax peppers kept the pepper flavor I wanted and the carrots added body and sweetness and maintained the beautiful orange color.  I managed to concoct what I think is the perfect blend of spice, flavor, sweetness, and heat - hot enough to feed my craving for spicy food, but not so hot that don't want to actually eat it.  So without further ado, here is my version of Honey Habanero Hot Sauce!

Honey Habanero Hot sauce
8 Habanero Peppers
3 Hungarian Wax Peppers
1 Medium Onion
1-2 Carrots
1 Head of Garlic
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup molasses
Honey to taste
Dash of salt

Tools needed:
Vinyl food service gloves

About 16 oz of delicious hot sauce, give or take.  It depends on how big your peppers are. 

- Roast the peppers, onion, carrot and garlic.  I built a small fire on my charcoal grill and roasted them over coals.  You could also do it in the oven.  Roast until veggies are soft and skin is slightly brown. Let veggies cool.  (Not completely, but enough that you can tolerate handling them). And now, the gratuitous pictures of roasting veggies because they're pretty.

See?  I told you they were pretty!

- This next step is extremely important. DO NOT skip this step.  Put on vinyl food service gloves.  I promise you will regret it if you don't.  When handling habaneros (or any hot pepper for that matter) the oils will get on your hands.  And they will not come off, no matter how much you wash, scrub, beg, bargain, or soak.  And eventually you will do something that is ordinarily harmless like rub your eye or scratch your nose, or if you're a get the point.  And it will hurt.  Trust me - I speak from experience. 

- Now that your GLOVES ARE ON (I'm serious!), carefully peel the skin off your peppers.  You can run them under cold water to help the skin come off.  Once the skin is peeled off, just kind of tear the pepper open and run the pepper under water, running your (GLOVED!) finger over the inside to remove the seeds.  Put the skinned and seeded peppers in your blender. I also skinned my carrots (just took the brown outside off.  Really I just cut them in half and scraped out the soft inside), my onion (again, just took off the outside layer), and garlic and put in blender with the peppers.  Add the rest of the ingredients and puree for about 5 minutes.  You want to make sure this is a liquid.

- Transfer the mixture to a sauce pan and bring to a boil on medium to medium high heat, stirring constantly.  Remember, there is sugar in this.  You don't want to accidentally make habanero hard candy.  As soon as it starts boiling, turn it on low and simmer, stirring often, for about 45 minutes to an hour.  The color will change a bit as it cooks, so don't be alarmed.

And that's it.  No, seriously.  That is really it.  Now, you can store it one of two ways.  You can put it in the fridge in a container or jar if you are planning on using it within the next couple weeks.  You can also can it, which is what I did.  I used 4 oz canning jars and processed in a boiling water bath, covered for 10 minutes.  I got 4 4oz jars of the stuff.  My result looked like this:
Come on....say it with me!  "Ooooh!  Aaaaaah!"  You know you want to....

Last night I made wings for dinner.  And I coated some of them with my hot sauce.  And it was delicious!  The habaneros actually taste like habaneros instead of just burning.  The sweetness was amazing!  I could really taste the honey in this, which I loved.  Now, don't get me wrong, 5 wings in I could really feel the heat.  But it wasn't unbearable.  And besides - it gave me the perfect excuse to eat ice cream right after dinner.  I had to cool my mouth down, after all. 


  1. Delicious! I made a very similar sauce last night... but i didn't roast my veggies (genius!). Thanks for posting!

  2. This sounds great. I have to replant my habaneros, they got powdery mildew (I think) so I'm bleaching my containers and starting over. I had some good strong plants for a good year or two. I can't wait till they grow again, I will have to try this recipe, never thought of adding carrot to a habanero hot sauce before. If you drink alcohol Habanero vodka is easy to make and delicious in bloody marys.

    1. Ugh, powdery mildew is the worst! My squash got that this year. If you make a solution out of milk and water and spray your plants, the protein in the milk keeps the mildew from growing.
      Carrots are a great filler for this sauce - it enhances the color while cutting down on the heat so your sauce is hot without being painful to eat. And habanero vodka? I'm going to have to try that. I love bloody marys, esp spicy ones. (Spicy bloody marys got me through many a late night study session in my Clinical Chem class.....)