With a wealth of homegrown cayenne peppers, I decided the best thing to do with them would be to make hot sauce. I’ve never made hot sauce before, and I’ve also never canned anything before, so I bought a couple of canning jars and figured this would be a good way to learn the canning process.
First, credit where credit is due, I found the hot sauce recipe that I used at an amazingly informative website called chilipeppermadness.com. This website has information on everything chili pepper: Growing, cooking, fermenting, drying, preserving, health benefits, and anything else you could imagine to do with peppers. It is a true wealth of information!
The recipe called for 10oz of cayenne peppers, but after weighing what looked like a hefty bounty, I only had 5oz, so I just halved everything else in the recipe. I also added two other things, a bit of diced white onion, and the juice of 2 key limes. The sauce turned out great. The cayenne variety that we’re growing is called hot sweet thing. It is a milder hybrid, which leads to a wonderfully flavorful mild sauce that still has good heat. Every time I’ve grown them, Hot Sweet Thing has been the first pepper plant to fruit and mature in the summer. We will have seeds and seedlings of hot sweet thing available for sale in Pittsburgh in the spring of 2021.
Now for the canning experiment, I bought a 4 pack of small wide mouth jars. I only had enough of the finished sauce to fill two of the jars to the fill line, and then I kept some in a container to use right now. Being the recipe is vinegar based,the ph is sufficiently low enough to make this sauce a shelf stable food. I also did lots of research on how to safely can food. Having sanitized vessels is the first step, just like in winemaking. Unlike in winemaking, it is generally advised to sanitize the jars through boiling them rather than with a sanitizing solution (starting with the jars and rims submerged in cool water brought to a boil). This is to have the temperature of the glass higher for when the hot food is added. After I added the sauce to the fill lines and secured the rim and lid, I boiled the jar under about an inch of water for 10 minutes. After taking the sauce out, within 15 minutes you could hear the lid seal and sink. Voila, canned hot sauce. If you are interested in canning, there are many tutorials available on youtube that are worth checking out.
I wanted to practice canning on something small before moving on to larger things. It’s a skill that if you follow the steps you should get the results you want. I’m going to give away one of the jars to my parents and keep the other until winter. It will be nice to taste something fresh from the garden in December or January.
What about you, do you have any canning experience or traditions? I’d love to read about them in the comments!