Hot Stuff! Sriracha and Hot Pepper Pickles

Over the last few weeks there have been an increasing number of hot pepper experiments.  After making a batch of salsa verde to can, I made another with extremely spicy jalapenos that turned out to be too intense for the intended purpose of making enchiladas verdes.  And then this weekend, I attempted to make Sriracha with a combination of mystery peppers and jalapenos/serranos.  Turned out some of the mystery peppers were habaneros, and the Sriracha sauce turned out more like a very delicious hot sauce that is only tolerable in extremely small doses.  Thank goodness I learned what a habanero looks like before making the pickled hot peppers or they might have been completely inedible to my weak taste buds.

Sriracha (hot pepper garlic sauce)
(Makes 2-5 half-pints)
I followed the directions for making Sriracha here pretty much to the letter, except I only ended up with 2.5 half-pints instead of the expected 5.  This may have been due to the fact that I had the heat up too high as I was cooking the sauce down, but this was absolutely necessary as I had a fan blowing air away from the pot and out of the kitchen so that we could breathe properly while preparing the ingredients for the hot pepper pickles.  So yes, a word of warning: the sauce will fill the air with awful pepper and vinegar fumes if you, like me, try using extremely hot peppers.  While I may be hot-peppered out for the moment, I do want to try making this recipe with only jalapenos, in which case the fumes may not be so bad.  As a hot sauce, this is one of the first I’ve really liked, so I foresee much tinkering with the recipe next summer.  Another thought on making sriracha: I’ve seen recipes that involve fermenting the peppers before the sauce is cooked and pureed, which may lead to a more authentic Rooster Sauce than the more simple recipe I tried.  And as always, an immersion blender makes it all so much easier, no matter what recipe you follow.

1 pound hot peppers
9 medium cloves garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup distilled white vinegar (5% acidity)
1 cup apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
3 tablespoons honey

To make the sauce:  Prepare the hot peppers by cutting off the stems and chopping them up into smallish pieces.  WEAR GLOVES to protect your hands from the hot pepper oils!  Leave in the seeds if you want to make the sauce spicier (perhaps if you only use jalapenos).  Prepare the garlic by peeling the cloves and crushing them with a flat knife.  In a medium pot, combine the chopped hot peppers, garlic, salt, and vinegars.  Bring the pot to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Take the pot off the heat and blend the mixture until smooth with an immersion blender (easily done right in the pot) or traditional blender/food processor (harder, and it may be easier when the sauce has cooled a little bit).   With the sauce in the pot (again), bring it to a boil.  You are now ready to can it!

To can the sauce:  Follow the more detailed directions in the recipe for dilly beans, with the following specifications.  Fill the half-pint jars with sauce leaving 1/4 inch of headspace at the top of the jar.  To process, boil the half-pint jars in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.

Pickled Hot Peppers (Adapted from Canning for a New Generation)
(Makes 4 half-pints of pickles)
Enough hot pepper rings to fill 4 half-pint jars
1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar (5% acidity)
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
3/4 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
4 cloves garlic, peeled

To make the pickles:  Cut up the hot peppers into rings about 1/8 inch thick and discard the stems.  WEAR GLOVES when handling the hot peppers!  Rinse the pepper rings in cool water to get rid of some of the seeds and set aside for the canning stage.  Peel the garlic and set aside for the canning stage as well.  Bring the rest of the ingredients (vinegars, water, salt, and sugar) to a boil in a pot and then take off the heat and proceed to the canning stage.

To can the pickles: Follow the more detailed directions in the recipe for dilly beans, with the following specifications.  Fill each half-pint jar with a clove of garlic and one fourth of the hot pepper rings, leaving one inch of headspace at the top of the jar.  Pour the brine into the jar leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of the jar.  To process, boil the half-pint jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.  The hot pepper rings will shrink as they cook in the hot water bath, leaving ample space in the half-pint jars that is only full of brine.  Cooking the hot pepper rings in the brine before packing the half-pint jars would help solve this problem, and for an example of this method see the recipe for banana pepper pickles.

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