I love spicy food. I can put hot sauce on almost anything and love trying sauces made of different peppers. I’ve always loved growing my own vegetables as well so this year I decided to grow a variety of hot peppers I’d use to make different homemade hot sauces. Today I’ll go over the basics of these easy to grow vegetables and how to make a basic sauce recipe.
I have a raised bed garden that measures 16’x 4’. Built of cedar wood so it does not rot and caged in (to keep wildlife out). Its about 2 feet deep and I get a nice compost/top soil mixture every 5 years. As for what peppers to grow, that is up to you. You can get seeds and sprouts online, or at a local gardening shop or home improvement store. This year I chose to grow banana, habanero, Thai dragon, and bhut jolokia(ghost) peppers. I spaced each plant about 36” from the next.
For irrigation, I suggest getting a drip irrigation system(the brown lines in the above photo). They connect to a standard outside water faucet and you can cut them to the lengths and number of rows of peppers you have. Simply turn it on and let it drip. If not, just give the plants plenty of water with the hose twice a day.
Where I live I planted the sprouts I bought in the beginning of May. Peppers like a lot of heat and a lot of water but they are still pretty hardy. This summer wasn’t particularly hot, but my plants did exceptionally well.
The smaller Thai dragon peppers sprouted first, then the banana and bhut jolokia, the last to flower was the habanero. Each of these peppers are easy to recognize from each other, and simple to know when ripe. The plants took about 3 months total to go from sprouts, to flowering, to producing fruit. The ghost peppers go from green, to yellow/orange then to bright red when ready. The habanero I planted goes from lime green to orange when ripe, but can be picked when green if desired. Thai dragons go from green to a brownish color then bright red when ready.
Once you’ve gathered 1lb of peppers (I combined habaneros, thai dragons, and ghost peppers for a crazy hot sauce) You’ll have enough to make about a pint of hot sauce. The recipe I followed was for a “sriracha style” sauce. What you’ll need:
1lb of peppers
1/2 cup vinegar (white or apple cider)
1/2 cup water
4 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp honey (the recipe called for sugar, but I used honey instead)
First, rinse all your peppers and start chopping the stems off. If you want the sauce to be milder, remove ALL seeds. I left all them in.
Add peppers, garlic, water, salt and vinegar into a blender and start grinding it up. You want it to have a paste like consistency. Not too runny or too thick. We can change the consistency later. I let mine ferment for 3 days to really dial in the flavor. Poured it into a jar and let sit on my counter.
Once you see bubbles forming, pour the puree into a pot and set to medium heat. Let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. White foam will rise to the top, scoop off and discard.
After 20 mins, remove from heat. At this point you’ll have to decide how thick you want the sauce to be. If you want it to be thinner, scoop the puree out of the pot and press through a strainer into a bowl. If you’d like it to be thicker, return to heat until it reduces to the thickness you want. Also, if you want to grind the seeds more, you can blend it again until they’re chopped up. Mine was perfect as soon as I took it off the burner, so I just bottled it.
That’s it! It was a fun project from start to finish and the sauce is amazing, albeit hot as hell. It should keep for up to 6 months in the fridge (high ph) or for years if you can/freeze it. You can make some pretty good recipes with it as well.
Mix in some mayo for a spicy aioli dressing that is great on tacos or fish
My wife makes a great pineapple salsa with it by adding:
1 cup hot sauce
1 can crushed pineapple
2 tbsp orange marmalade
Combine it all with a blender on a low setting for a sweet/spicy glaze that is great on shrimp and pork.
It was a fun project for me and my family. The kids don’t like hot peppers, but loved the process of growing our own food. I love knowing I grew the peppers, then made a sauce I can enjoy. If you have any questions, leave a comment below.