Saturday, November 19, 2011

Habanero Pepper Sauce

Almost pure habanero peppers, this sauce has just a little vinegar and salt. The flavor and heat of the peppers really comes through.

First, a word of warning: Only make this on a day when you can open your windows and get full ventilation going in your house. Habanero peppers are some of the hottest on the planet and you will suffer lung damage if you breathe in these fumes. I am not even joking a little bit.

In our house, we eat this on everything. Well, everything savory. It is indispensable and irreplaceable and when we run out and Hock Choon (or Fiesta in Houston, or my little Géant in Dubai) doesn’t have fresh peppers to make more, we are sad beyond belief. When we lived in Singapore those three semesters, I would trek back after visits to KL with a cooler full of these beautiful peppers.

Used to be that I could get the orange ones which I think are somewhat hotter.  
I am happy to get red, if that's all they have. 
The customs guys would make me open my cooler and I looked like a dealer, I had so many. (Fortunately, Singaporeans understand an addiction to chilies and they would wave me through.) We just can’t live without them. If they don’t have habaneros in Cairo, we’re in trouble. (With the current stockpile of sauce, we'll be okay for a few months. After that, I'll let you know. You may need to send peppers.)

800g fresh habanero or scotch bonnet peppers
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon sea salt

That’s it! We are talking almost pure-pepper sauce.

Remove the stems and wash your peppers in a clean sink, full of water.

They float!
If some of the stems don’t come off clean, use a knife to remove the green. Likewise, if any of the peppers have a bad spot, cut it off. We are not really cooking this sauce so any bacteria is a bad thing.

Open your windows and ensure good cross ventilation in your house. Avoid inhaling in the direct vicinity of the peppers for the next step.

Grind the peppers in a food processor. They may not all fit at first, so grind what you can fit on your fastest speed and then add the balance.

Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Remember not to breathe too deeply when you open it to scrape.

Meanwhile, wash and sterilize a few old jam jars with lids that close tightly without leaking. Which means, after washing well with dish soap, rinse them and then fill them with boiling water (putting a spoon in each to avoid breakage) and then drain. Avoid touching the inside of the lid or bottle now.

I always sterilize more than I think I'll need. It's hard to tell how much sauce you will get out of your peppers. 
Continue grinding the peppers for a few more minutes on high. Add in the salt and vinegar, scrape the processor vessel down again and put it back on high twirl for another few minutes.

You can see, I have scraped the sides down again. 

When your sauce is thick and pasty, put it in a pot on the stove and heat to boiling. If it is too thick, you can add a little water. You want to see it bubbling.

I added a little water.  About 1/4 cup.
We are not really cooking the sauce so this won’t take long. We just want to be hot enough to further sterilize the insides of your jars so the pepper sauce will last longer.

Meanwhile, set your jars out, with one teaspoon in each one. The spoon will keep the jar from breaking when you put the hot sauce in it. I am sure there is a good thermodynamic reason for this, but all I know is, it works. If you have a wide-mouth funnel, this will make transferring the boiling hot sauce to the jars much easier.

Once the sauce is boiling steadily, remove the pot from the heat and spoon or ladle it into the clean jars.

See that wide-mouthed funnel!  Great for this job.

Using a towel so you don’t burn your hands, tighten the lids as much as possible and turn the jars upside down. Once again, this helps the hot liquid sterilize the lid.

Every once in a while, when you pass the jars, try to tighten the lids a little more.

When the jars have cooled almost completely, turn the jars back upright. The round circle in the middle of the lid should be sucked in, just like when the original jam came from the manufacturer. If any of them don't seal tightly, store them in the refrigerator.

This will keep in a cool dark cupboard for months.  Once opened, keep the sauce in the refrigerator.

Even if you are a pepper eater, I suggest caution when adding this to food. It doesn’t take much!



  1. Janice (Farmersgirl Kitchen)November 19, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    Oh my goodness, that is one hot mamma! Clever trick with the jars, never seen that before!

  2. Thanks, Janice! I learned that trick a few years ago when I was making tomato chutney. I don't remember the source but I have used it ever since for jam and anything else put up boiling hot. If one of the little circles in the middle of the lid doesn't suck down, just pop the jar in the fridge and use that one first.

  3. Dear maam, i have been trying to get this habanero peppers in malaysia, could you kindly tell me where can i buy these habareno pepper in kl. I need it for an alternative cure for cancer and has been desperately searching for it but to no avail. Thank you so much.

  4. Hi, Izal. As I mentioned in the post, I buy the peppers at Hock Choon, which is a local grocery store in Kuala Lumpur on Jalan Ampang. I wanted to put a link but they don't seem to have a website. I hope this helps

  5. Thank you so much, you are a live saver.

  6. Wishing you all success! Please let me know how you are doing. I have not heard of habaneros having curative properties.

  7. Hi Stacy, do you have any idea where to get those habanero chillis in Singapore?? thanks!


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