Mother Earth Living

Food Matters

All about fresh, flavorful food

Add to My MSN

The Capsaicin Effect: Homemade Hot Sauce

1/21/2010 12:03:13 PM

Tags: Chile Peppers, Recipes, Hot Sauce, Health, Tips, Peppers

A.TilsonEither my taste buds are dying or I’ve developed immunity to the taste of my own cooking because increasingly I’ve had to use more and more salt in anything I create. 

I know that this can’t be good for my heart or my waistline, so in an effort to cut back, I’m trying to heat up my cooking with more peppers. 

This approach seems to work wonderfully for many of my friends and family, who pour on the Sriracha and Louisiana Hot Sauce like it’s going out of style.

So far I haven’t found quite the same enjoyment, but I’ll keep battling through my burning tears and runny nose in the hopes of cultivating an appreciation for the fierier side of life. And until I do, I’ll keep lots of yogurt within arms’ reach.

Bright peppers
Photo by Darwin Bell/Courtesy Flickr
http://www.flickr.com/photos/darwinbell/

Despite my struggles, it turns out that a love for all things spicy may not be a choice. According to Kim Erickson's article, Hot Chile Pepper Health, capsaicin, which is the active ingredient in hot peppers, can cause an addictive reaction because, as your taste buds burn, your brain produces pain-relieving endorphins. 

The only concern I’ve heard from my friends about their hot sauce habits is if too much salt is so bad for you, how can so much hot sauce be okay? 

One of the most popular misconceptions about spicy over-indulgence is that too much heat can cause stomach ulcers. However, Gina Mohammed, Ph.D. says in her article A Hot And Spicy Introduction to Peppers that the opposite is actually true. Capsaicin fights ulcer-causing bacteria and has plenty of other health benefits well worth the burn, including increased circulation and metabolism, cancer fighting antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

The most damaging aspect of hot sauce is probably the additives, such as preservatives and sugars, used in store-bought brands. So if you’re a hot sauce connoisseur, it might be a good idea to switch up your routine and make some healthier sauce of your own.

hot sauces on counter
Photo by barcoder96/Courtesy Flickr
http://www.flickr.com/photos/leegillen/ 

Last night, I experimented with Kim Erickson’s simple recipe Red Hot Sauce because, with only three ingredients, it seemed like even I couldn’t screw it up.

• 3 cups distilled white vinegar
• 2 pounds peppers (ancho, habanero, jalapeño, passilla or serrano), seeded and coarsely chopped
• 2 teaspoons salt (optional)

1. Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

2. Process in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour into glass canning jars and cap tightly.

3. Store in the refrigerator and use for up to two months, or freeze for later use. Note: The intensity of this sauce increases as it ages.

As a chile pepper newbie, I chose to use jalapeño peppers, which are in the middle range of Erickson’s useful heat index. Also, I halved the recipe and excluded the salt. All in all the sauce was a hit, although I think I added too much vinegar because it tasted a little bit too limey and the kitchen still has a lingering astringent odor. 

Next time I’ll experiment with different types of peppers and flavors, and perhaps let it age longer. I’m hoping to try out The Lemon Verbena Lady’s recipe, Salsa Peruana Aji de Miguel, and Carolyn Dille and Susan Belsingers’ recipe, Habanero, Tomatillo and Orange Salsa

I’m looking forward to having special, spicy sauces to offer to my pepper-happy friends and family next time around. 

For information on growing your own hot peppers, check out Patsy Bell Hobson’s recent blog, How To: Chili Gardens


Have you tried to make your own hot sauce before? What are your favorite hot pepper recipes? Leave me a comment and let me know.



Related Content

Gardening Rookie: A Hot Pepper Harvest

When jalapenos take over, what’s a rookie gardener to do? Dry ’em, freeze ’em, smoke ’em, and more.

Grow Baby Bell Peppers From Seed

Get maximum flavor and brilliant color in a small garden space with peppers.

A Hot and Spicy Introduction to Peppers

For pepper lovers, there is no such thing as too spicy. Our introduction to this plant reveals all o...

The Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper

The health benefits of cayenne pepper range from treating skin conditions to relieving internal irri...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 



Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.