CBG's Hot Sauce
Here's a pickled pepper recipe I adapted for my own use:
3 sterilized pint jars.
2 lb. peppers, chopped or diced
For the brine:
3 cups (625 ml) white vinegar
1/2 cup (250 ml) dry white wine
1 tbsp (15ml) pickling salt
1 tsp (15ml) granulated sugar
1 sprig fresh oregano (or 1 tbsp dried oregano)
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
Place the spices in a cheesecloth bag or spice strainer. In a large, non-reactive saucepan, mix the brine ingredients and spice bag and bring to a boil, then boil for 3 minutes. Remove the spice bag, then add the peppers, turn off the heat, and let them steep for 2 minutes. Pack peppers into jar and fill each jar with hot brine to within 1/2" of the rim. Wipe rims of jars if necessary, seal, and process jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Let the jars sit until the boiling subsides (3 to 5 minutes) and then carefully remove them without tilting, and let cool upright for 24 hours. Check seals.
Now - here's the tough part: let those jars sit untouched on your pantry shelf for at least 18 months (or significantly more
), checking occasionally and discarding any jars with broken seals. (If you did it right, you won't have any bad seals). The peppers should turn quite soft over that time, but the vinegar and salt in the brine will keep them preserved.
All you need to do once the peppers are ready is to strain off and reserve the brine and puree the peppers in a blender, adding the brine until the hot sauce is the desired thickness. The puree will be quite thick at first, so thinning it even a little bit is a good idea.
I usually store the sauce in sterilized hot sauce bottles and keep it in the fridge, or I can the resulting hot sauce (again) in smaller (1/2 pint) sterilized jars for 15 minutes. Then I take a bottle to work and share it with the chili head a couple of cubes down.
One of the fringe benefits is that you get a few cups of brine left over - it's basically a salted pepper vinegar, and it works great when you're making your own BBQ sauce. Although I don't have any oak barrels kicking around (more's the pity!), you could add about a 1/2 cup of sanitized oak chips split between the jars, I suppose.