18 August 2011
Snifffffff. My nose is a little runny this morning.
Nope, it's not a cold or hot sauce overindulgence (which is always plausible with me). I just sat down to finish up this recipe post, and ended up reading Melanie's INCREDIBLE birth story instead (via Kristina). Isn't that always the way? Darn you internet. I feel like every time I check in with my favorite ladies (and the occasional dude) out there in blogland, I end up with a very wet face. Sighhhhhhh. I love it. Birth stories are addictive and, don't know about you, but I never read or heard too many prior to the era of the blog. A happy evolution, I think.
Anyway, gear change. I'm in a seriously different mindset finishing this post as I was starting it. But, let's get it out there. This is some good spicy, fruity business here. And, since I know you'll ask... ("how spicy is it?")... that's a super relative question, of course. For a spice-lover, this is satisfyingly hot, but it isn't the craziest stuff. The sweet fruit balances out the fiery chiles. Hot but not painful. On the other hand, if you don't like spice, this one isn't for you. But you should still make some and give it away at the holidays!
This recipe calls for making a pot of hot sauce and then water-bath canning it. If you haven't canned stuff before, try it now! I've given the basics below, but if you want to read more, check out what the Ball people say (there are some useful PDFs), or consult a trustworthy book. Really, I used to be scared of canning, but it's pretty easy. You just need to be organized and confident (the first time is the most nerve-wracking). Of course, you could always just store the sauce in the fridge in lieu of canning, but I'm not sure you could go through it quickly enough. Yes, that might be a challenge. ;)
Oh, and this is totally the time to make this stuff. Actually, this is the YEAR to make this stuff. What with the crazy heat-pocalypses out there and everything. At least that's what this fog-ensconced person hears. Hot peppers are ready for the taking. I scored all these chiles for $1 a bunch at our farmers market.
Let me know if you try! This is delicious, pretty stuff, great on tacos, crackers and goat cheese, a dip for grilled cheese sandwiches, atop grilled fish, etc etc.
Thai Chile, Mango and Peach Hot Sauce
Adapted from--yep--Canning for a New Generation
makes about 5 half-pint jars. (It doubles well; I made a huge batch.)
4 oz red or orange thai chiles (or other fresh very hot peppers, like habaneros)*
1 lb, 6 oz mangoes, chopped (about 3 cups)
6 oz peaches, diced (about 1 cup)
1 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 c cider vinegar (5% acidity)
4 t pure kosher salt
1 T honey
*Don't be tempted to increase the ratio of peppers to acid ingredients. You need the right acidity to prevent spoilage.
You'll need: 5 half-pint canning jars with new lids and a canning pot (or pasta pot) large enough to hold your jars plus water to cover by at least 1". As for tools: a ladle, either a jar-lifter (or long tongs with rubber bands wrapped around the tip), plus a canning funnel for neat jar-filling. Also, this is a puréed hot sauce, so you'll need a blender.
Prepare for canning: wash your jars and all tools and heat them up to a boil, then keep them in simmering water (should cover jars by at least 1") while you prepare the recipe. Place the flat lids in a heat-proof dish. Set rings aside.
Make the sauce: Stem the chiles, then slice in half and remove seeds if you want (I didn't do either), and place them in a wide, stainless steel pan with all other ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the chiles are softened. Remove the center stopper from your blender lid and have a kitchen towel on hand to cover the opening. Working in batches (important: only fill the blender half-full each time), puree the sauce in a blender (with open-top lid and kitchen towel on top--be careful, this is hot stuff) until very smooth. When the entire recipe has been blended, return the sauce to the pan and bring back to a simmer. Beware of sticky, sputtering sauce--it's kind of like very spicy lava at this stage. A lid perched on top of the pan helps.
Canning: Ladle hot water from the canning pot into the bowl with the lids. This softens the sealing compound on the underside of the lids. Remove the hot jars from the canning pot, carefully pouring the hot water back into the pot. Place the hot jars upright on a kitchen towel and drain the water off the lids.
Remove the sauce from the heat and ladle it through your canning funnel into the hot jars, leaving 1/4" headspace at the top. Wipe the rims with a damp paper towel (any sauce there will compromise the seal), place a lid on top, and gently screw on a ring until it's just finger tight. Air needs to escape during the water bath processing, so don't tighten any further at this stage.
Return the jars to the canning pot, ensuring that the water covers the jars by 1". Bring to a boil and, once boiling, maintain this state for 10 full minutes. Afterward, turn off the heat and carefully remove hot jars to a kitchen towel and leave undisturbed for 12 hours. After 1 hour, check that the lids have sealed (you shouldn't be able to press them down). If any haven't, refrigerate them immediately. For successfully processed jars, either re-tighten the rings or remove them completely (not necessary for storage). Then label your jars for keeping and gift-giving!
And, just a few more canning safety notes: during storage, if you ever notice a bulging lid (or one that's not firmly "sucked down" onto the jar, a funky color or any fuzz/yucky bits when you open the jar, don't ever taste the contents (yeck and very dangerous). Dispose them in a sealed bag, in a place that no person or animal could possibly consume it. Read more here.
But, don't be scared! It's easy to learn the right way, and super addictive. Like hot sauce. And birth stories.