Sunday, August 24, 2008

Homemade Belizean Pepper Sauce

I am back from Belize after a especially long trip to DC. The Miami International Airport was temporarily shut down due to electrical storms, and my luggage-which contains my precious coconut rum as well as various jars of canned delicacies- is still missing as I type this. The airline wouldn't pay for my hotel room because the delays were weather related. But at least I made it safely to Washington DC, albeit a day late.

Now, with daily access to the Internet I look forward to regaling you all with tales of Belizean food and my own tropical creations. I thought I would start with a little recipe that I used on my last day on the farm, to turn some left over habanero peppers into a fiery hot sauce for my parents. This recipe is a great way to use up any hot peppers, so feel free to try it with different types that you may have languishing in your garden or on your counter top.

The habanero, long famed as the world's hottest pepper, has in recent years lost that title to much hotter capsicums discovered in India and Pakistan. However it remains renowned for its fruity and scorching hot flavour. The habanero, especially an orange variety known as the "Scotch Bonnet", forms the base of Belize's most ubiquitous hot sauce, Marie Sharps. However today I want to focus on another hot sauce-a homemade hot sauce that, in these times of economic uncertainty, provides Belizeans with the heat that they seek without having to pay for a bottle of the commercially prepared stuff.

The recipe is so ridiculously simple that anyone can make it, but I strongly urge you purchase a pair of protective gloves before you start. You may be able to eat habaneros without fear, but getting the juice all over your hands will make them burn uncomfortably for hours.

Homemade Habanero Pepper Sauce

About 1 dozen habanero peppers (if you grow your own you should have no trouble getting this many. They are also sold in some Latin markets and some supermarkets in the USA).

About 2 cups of plain white vinegar, or another vinegar of your choice.

1 medium white onion

Optional: 1 small carrot, grated.

1 glass jar with a lid (a leftover peanut butter, jelly or pasta sauce jar with a wide mouth is ideal)


1. Briefly wash the habaneros and remove the stems. Wearing rubber or polyurethane gloves and using a sharp knife, finely chop the habaneros, seeds and all.

2. Peel and finely chop the onion. Grate the carrot, if using.

3. Dump both chilis and onion (and carrot) into the jar and cover with the vinegar. Stir and close the lid. This sauce will keep perfectly well on your kitchen or dining room table, but you can also keep it in the fridge if you so desire. Keep a little spoon around to dip out the spicy mixture. If you want a little less heat, just use a little of the fiery vinegar instead of the chopped habanero itself.


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