Monday, October 24, 2011

Food: Fruit Punch?

Over the weekend I turned two peaches, three papayas, and fourteen Habanero peppers into this:

I found the name a bit unwieldy, though, so I'm just calling it Habanero Peach Hot Sauce in my head.

I did not get any in-progress pictures of this hot stuff, though... it was all I could do to keep breathing.  It's wickedly potent.

It starts with halving the peppers, removing the seeds and white membranes, and roasting them in a dry dutch oven for a bit, stirring to keep them from sticking.  Dice the peaches and papayas, and add those as well.  Then it's a cup of cider vinegar and three-quarters of a cup of *fresh* lime juice.  Yes, squeezing that many limes is a pain.  When you're canning, though, you can't go around making substitutions to the acid ingredients unless you feel like contracting botulism.  Just get a good citrus juicer and stop complaining.  (It took me about six whole limes to get that much, but it's going to depend on the size of your fruit and how aggressive you are with getting every last drop.)

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until the peppers are tender.  At this point, the recipe calls for the careful (and foolishly dangerous) transfer of the hot liquid to a blender, and pureeing it until smooth.  The combination of steaming hot liquid and the agitation of the blender can and will blow the top off your blender, splattering you with hot, sugary mess.  Don't do it.  Get yourself an immersion blender (also known as a stick blender) and use that directly in the pot.  There's enough liquid that it processes up with a stick blender nicely and quickly, and you're not going to give yourself second degree burns, either.  Not to mention an eyeful of what is the same ingredient in pepper spray, more or less.

This may sound like a lot of effort and risk for hot sauce... a substance you can find easily in many varieties in the grocery store.  You can't find this, though.  Fresh ingredients, that zippy tang of the vinegar and lime that hits your tongue first... and then the kick.  That punch at the back of your throat that has you reaching for the water glass.  There's very little sweetness to it at all, but it's delicious.  I'm not a hot sauce connoisseur, but I've eaten a third of a jar already, it's that good.

No, I'm not eating it straight out of the jar.
 If this sounds like something you'd like to try, then check out the "Canning for a New Generation" cookbook, and follow it exactly (food safety is paramount when canning!) and you'll be amazed.

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