I love hot sauce. I wouldn’t call myself a die-hard hot sauce eater, but I do like have a few on hand to spice up a dish when needed. However, I don’t like hot sauces that just set your mouth on fire instead of adding anything complex to a dish. The end of summer is the perfect time of year to not only create new sauces that will keep for months, allowing you to preserve all of those different peppers, but also test your spice tolerance on the Scoville scale (measurement of spiciness). Not a fan of spice? This recipe allows for varying degrees of heat. The more spicy you like a sauce, the hotter the peppers you can use. Below is a scale of heat for common peppers.
These peppers are typically easy to find at your local grocery store. If you’re lucky enough to come across different varieties at a farmers market, ask the grower about the heat level before you experiment. The grower at the farmers market where we bought our Turkish hot peppers made sure we knew exactly what we were purchasing. I like to use different kinds of peppers when making hot sauces. Every “hot” pepper is more than just “spicy”. Habañero peppers, similar to the Turkish hot peppers I bought, have a sweet, almost floral note to them which makes them great in sauces; you get a more well-rounded, full flavor instead of just spice. I also like to add a couple of sweeter peppers to round out the intense heat.
Another tip to controlling the heat: the spice lies mostly in the ribs and seeds of the pepper, so clean those out completely if you want a sauce that’s on the tame side.
Turkish Hot Sauce
Yields 2 cups
- 2 large hot peppers (Turkish hot peppers, or similar quantity with the level of spice you prefer)
- 2 sweet peppers (I used Hungarian sweet peppers. Bell peppers would be great here.)
- ½ yellow onion, roughly chopped into chunks
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp. neutral oil (avocado, vegetable, or canola)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 6 tbsp. distilled vinegar
- ½ tsp. paprika (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut all of the peppers into large chunks (removing seeds and ribs if you don’t want the sauce too spicy). Place pepper chunks, whole garlic, and onion chunks into bowl and toss with oil. Place mix on sheet pan and roast in oven for 30 minutes (rotate pan halfway through cooking). Once the peppers, onions, and garlic are browning on the edges, remove and place into a blender. Add salt, pepper, vinegar, and paprika. Blend until smooth. Taste and add more salt and pepper to your liking. Cool completely before storing: rest on the counter for 30 minutes, then refrigerate until internal temperature is 41°F.
To store hot sauce properly, make sure to sterilize your glass jars. Boil clean jars in water for 10 minutes or leave in a 225°F for 20 minutes. Be careful when handling hot jars and let jars cool on clean wire rack. When cool, pour hot sauce into jars and refrigerate.