Homemade Tabasco sauce (v)

Tabasco sauce has been a constant companion in my life, from being a quick way to add a lovely light heat to any dish to enlivening Bloody Marys on the plane and spicing up dull meals when travelling. I have always been curious about how it is made and an article in the Telegraph in July gave me the perfect excuse to try making my own version.

 

I roughly followed Edmund Mcllhenny's original method -

 

'...crushing the ripest peppers, adding a cup of Avery salt to every gallon of crushed pepper, and letting the mixture age in crockery jars. After 30 days he added ‘the best French wine vinegar’ and let the sauce stand for another 30 days.'

 

But used ingredients that are easily available in London. So the long red chillies you can find in most supermarkets or Asian corner shops. These are fairly mild but tasty. Maldon sea salt is a home favourite and a sharp flavourful apple cider vinegar from Core Fruit Products at Oval farmer's market.

 

Keeping the proportion of 1 cup (236.59ml) of salt to 1 gallon (4.54 litres) of chilli mash I blitzed a big bag of chillies to make a chilli mash and added the same ratio of salt.

 

I left this mix in a cool dark place for a month to ferment, and then strained the mash through a fine sieve and added enough apple cider vinegar to give the sauce a sour lift.

 

Ingredients
 

about 500g red chillies

Maldon sea salt

apple cider vinegar - to taste

 

What to do

 

Sterilise a measuring jug, a container with lid for your mash, a large metal spoon and a knife or food processor blade and bowl. I did this by putting them in a big pot of boiling water for a few minutes. Dry well with paper towels.

 

Wash the chillies thoroughly and remove any green stalks and nasty bits. Either chop them finely, seeds and all, or blitz in a food processor to a coarse mash.

 

The ratio of salt to chilli mash is 1 cup (236.59ml) of salt to 1 gallon (4.54 litres) of chilli mash. I spooned my mash into a measuring jug and added about 36ml of salt to 700ml of mash. Mix well.

 

Leave covered in a cool dark place for a month to ferment, then strain through a fine sieve, pressing out the liquid. Discard the leftover pulp. This left me with 250ml of fiery red liquid, to which I added 50ml apple cider vinegar.

 

This chilli sauce has been incredibly versatile - delicious in everything from drinks, soups and sauces to grilled meats, stews and fish.

 

I simmered the liquid with butter, sugar, more vinegar and flour, reducing it by half to make a gorgeously piquant hot sauce that is a classic with barbecued or deep fried chicken wings but also worked really well with some smoked prawns instead of aioli or mayonnaise. Here's the recipe.