A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Homemade Tabasco Sauce

Lawson grew a tabasco chile plant this year. It was beautiful: all graceful sweepy branches and upright chiles ranging from a pale green to bright bricky red.

So I read up on tabasco sauce, which involves fermenting crushed-up tabasco chiles and then mixing the strained goo with vinegar.

When ripe, tabascos are soft and juicy, not firm like most other chiles. I used the food processor to briefly mash them up. They formed a wet red paste full of seeds.

I added a bit of salt (sorry, forgot how much) and put them in a jar for two months with the lid slightly vented. The top of the goo got a little moldy after a month, but it was a mild mold that didn't spread, and after I spooned that part out, it didn't come back. Heck, aged beef gets moldy, and people just hack the moldy part off and eat the rest.

The goo was really intense at first, but the smell began to mellow after a few weeks. It took on a peppery, fruity, more complex odor.

So after a few months I mixed the whole gooey mess with a bunch of white vinegar and let it sit for another week or two. This was not a required step; I just couldn't find good jars for bottling it. Eventually I just strained it into the jars you see here.

It's good. It's not great. I'll try it again next year with a longer fermentation. It was excellent on hoppin' john on New Year's Day, though.

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