In an earlier post we talked about growing the Carolina Reaper, the world’s hottest pepper. Our efforts produced a bountiful harvest and the next challenge becomes what to do with these beasts. We are going to be experimenting with different recipes over the next few weeks but figured we would start with a good old hot sauce which we of course call, Carolina Reaper Hot Sauce.
Carolina Reaper Hot Sauce
- 3 red/orange/yellow peppers
- 2 carrots
- 3 dried or fresh California/Anaheim peppers
- 2-4 dried Carolina Reapers extreme caution!
- 24 oz canned or fresh tomatoes fresh is better, Rotel is good
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 3 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsp molasses
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
Heat oven to 425
Cut carrots into small rounds, arrange on cookie sheet with red peppers (add Anaheim peppers if not dried)
Roast until starting to black, about 30 minutes
De-seed and slice reapers and dried peppers with extreme caution
Add peppers/carrots to food processor and blend
Add tomatoes and blend again
Put into large cooking pot, add roughly chopped onions, garlic, salt, pepper, vinegar, apple juice and sweeteners.
Stir, bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 20+ minutes. Do a final blend using immersion blender or food processor.
Cool and bottle
There are dozens of recipes for hot sauce but what we wanted to go after was something similar to some of those habanero sauces that have a little sweetness to cut the heat and add some subtlety. With just that rough goal in mind this recipe was basically improvised on the fly with little expectation it would come out as something edible. The results were actually fairly surprising (in a positive way) so here we go for those that want to try it….WARNING THIS IS DANGEROUS. We used very hot Carolina Reapers and they need special handling.
A hot sauce, of course needs peppers. The problem is a tiny reaper packs a massive amount of heat. You just cant add a bunch of reapers and call it a sauce. So the first step is to add additional peppers that would cut the heat. We picked red peppers and, inspired by the color of habanero sauces we have seen, an orange pepper. For other peppers we considered fresh jalapeno or serrano peppers but we were concerned they may add too much heat and also their green color may impact the orange/red color we were going for (the store only had green jalapenos). So we went with a bag of dried California peppers, also known as Anaheim peppers. These peppers have more heat than a red pepper (which basically has no eat) but less than a jalapeno. In the bag they are brown, but as they are blended with multiple processing they form into a nice orange sauce.
We have also seen a lot of recipes for hot sauce that uses carrots so we added two to our recipe. The first step is to roast the red/orange peppers and carrots, coated in a little olive oil for about 30 minutes. The California peppers were already dried and as we discussed in our earlier post we had already dried the Carolina Reapers for later use. So while the other peppers were roasting we cut and removed the seeds from these peppers. Just exercise extreme caution. The peppers were moved with tongs and never touched by hand. Knife and tong were immediately washed in hot water with plenty of soap.
Once the peppers and carrots are roasted, combine them with the other peppers in a food processor. You could also probably use a blender or hand mixer but the food processor works well at this point. Tomatoes are a must for hot sauce (maybe) so in goes a can of tomatoes, plus some leftover Rotel from the night before. Process some more, there is a lot to blend here so working in stages was our strategy.
In research it appears most hot sauces are cooked to bring together the flavor so our pepper paste goes into the pot. Vinegar is a must for hot sauce and a cup seemed like a good amount. Onions, garlic, salt and pepper are basics. We just rough chopped them knowing they will be blended later.
A hint of sweetness was a goal. We had some leftover apple juice from our Apple Pork Mole Verde so in some went. Honey always sounds good, ditto brown sugar. When pulling out the honey we noticed some molasses so why not. Let this simmer for a half hour or so (not sure if longer would be better) and do the process routine yet again. For the final blend we figured our Nutri Ninja would be a better choice than the food processor, but either would probably work. It just needs to be processed to a sauce with no chunks and a pouring consistency.
The sauce actually came out pretty good. It had quite a bit of heat but was not too overwhelming. The plan was to use only 2 Carolina Reapers but we ended up adding 3. The peppers are fairly small and this recipe makes about 50 ounces of sauce. The reapers were the only source of hot spice in the recipe and it shows how hard it is to dilute the impact of these things. The heat could easily be adjusted by going with 2 or 4, but adding 5 reapers would likely be pushing it past something your average person would consider edible.