Spice it up: 100-mile hot sauce

Goshen /
Aug 08 2019 | 01:44 PM

Kids and hot sauce, not usually a combination that go together. But this is a parenting issue, I promise you.

My kids are 8 and 5, and they have opinions. Hoo boy, so many opinions stacked in such a small body. Many of these opinions revolve around food: what flavors they like, and a laundry list of flavors they don’t like. Until recently, using garlic in dinner would get nose wrinkles (not that I used it all that often. Weeknight dinners do not get any extra steps — like peeling, mincing and sautéing garlic.)

So, another night of simple meals with little seasoning... I mean, that doesn’t sound so bad, right? We try to use good ingredients. Still, sometimes there is something missing. That kick, that zest, that little bit of fire.

And for that, there is the hot sauce. Some people have lifelong commitments to one brand of hot sauce, but I never felt passionate about hot sauce until Adina Bialas of J&A Farms in Goshen, NY gifted me a small jar of something she’d made at home. For the next week I planned every meal around that hot sauce.

As it goes with kitchen experiments, she didn’t have a real recipe — roast some peppers, then puree them. But I have made hot sauce many ways since, and found that all of them were flavorful and interesting, even if I could only declare 75 percent of them my favorites.

For the locavores and kitchen tinkerers among us, consider making spicy condiments this month — the peppers are waiting for you. Even if you can only store a few jars in your freezer, they will last you months (which can’t be said for a few jars of apple sauce or crushed tomatoes). The ingredients can be fairly simple — peppers, vinegar and salt will take you far. But garlic, carrots, maple syrup, tomatillos, onions, pears and radishes can take you so much farther. I use my home-fermented apple cider vinegar, made with local cider, when I am cooking for Dirt’s Eat Local challenge, and I use store-bought vinegar when I am making larger batches to store. This fall, I am going to skip the vinegar and try out some fermented condiments from the cookbook Fiery Ferments by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey.

I have two big warnings though — wear gloves while you cut the peppers! And when you taste your hot sauce to see if the spices are right, don’t just stick a spoon in your pot and take a slurp. It might be good, but you won’t be able to taste anything after that first spoon. Not that I have done that before.