‘Tis the season for peppers…sweet peppers, hot peppers, small peppers, large ones, and all colors…green, red, yellow, purple and orange.
But the season is short, much too short here in Northern California. This bright orange hot sauce using habaneros will bring back the taste (and heat) of summer on a dull winter day. What’s the best part? You can save a bit of summer in a jar and it is easy to make even for a beginner.
Use the sauce on grilled cheese sandwiches, tacos, or scrambled eggs…anywhere you need a touch of spicy heat. The carrots add sweetness and a lovely orange color. Plus it’s a wonderful hostess or Christmas gift.
I recommend using small (4-ounce) jars. This sauce is potent and a little goes a long way. If you prefer less heat, use more Serrano chilies or jalapeños and less habaneros. The habaneros are one of the hottest of the chilies.
Use a hot water canner if you have one, or a large pot if you don’t. Please refer to a good book on canning for more detailed instructions if you are not familiar with the basic techniques.
Carrot Habanero Sauce
- 1 1/2 pounds of carrots (orange), peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds. A food processor will make short work of this.
- 1 large white onion
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons of kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
- 4 habanero peppers, seeded and chopped
- 2 jalapeño peppers (red if you can find them), seeded and chopped
- 5 cups white vinegar
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
- Combine the carrots, onion, water, lemon juice, salt, garlic and ginger in a medium non-reactive pot over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer until the carrots are very soft. This could take 30 minutes. If the mixture seems dry, add a tablespoon or two of water.
- Once the carrots are soft, add the peppers and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the vinegar, lime juice and zest.
- Either blend the mixture with an immersion blender or transfer in batches to a standing blender or food processor. (I prefer the smoother texture you get with a blender, you might like more texture.) Blend until smooth.
- Optional (I don’t do this as I prefer the color and texture of the unstrained sauce. Your yield will also be higher): Strain the sauce through a strainer, using a rubber spatula to press the liquid through. Discard any chunky bits.
- Pour into a large container and refrigerate overnight to let the flavors blend.
- The following day, blend the sauce again. Return it to the pot and bring it to a simmer, cook for about 25-30 minutes until it is thick and glossy.
- Ladle the sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Check for air bubbles, wipe the rim, and seal. Process for 10 minutes.
This recipe makes approximately 6 pints of sauce. I use 4 oz. jars, so you will have plenty for both your own use and gift giving.
Recipe adapted from Tart and Sweet by Kelly Geary and Jessie Knadler.
And what is my personal favorite way to use it? Grilled cheese with a sharp Canadian white cheddar. I was recently in Seattle where grilled cheese is big business, here you see a food truck parked in from of Tesla. “Gourmet Grilled Cheese”… I think this could hang in there with their offerings.