Spring is around the corner and I’ve seeded my peppers, which are now emerging in the greenhouse. Last year I grew a variety of heirlooms, including lemon drop, fish, Thai, bhut, and sugar rush peach. Sugar rush peach hot peppers are peach color that possess a fruity, spicy, smoky flavor. They produce early and large yields.
I had so much gardening success that I froze nearly a dozen 1-gallon zip lock bags with whole peppers. (Freeze the peppers in a single layer on a tray, for at least an hour, before placing them in a bag.) At one time, I was harvesting so many peppers I could fill a colander a day. Because of this I did not cut the peppers first. If you would prefer, you can clean, cut, and then freeze in a single layer. Once in the bag, remove as much air as possible. When you are ready to cook with them, pour out what you need and reseal. Peppers that are kept at 0 degrees F or lower will keep for up to 8 months.
During the fall and winter, I used my frozen peppers for a variety of recipes. I added them to soups, stir-fries, and sauces. For a great chip dip, roast the frozen peppers then, combine them with a blend of shredded Mexican cheeses (Sharp Cheddar, Colby, and Monterey Jack), bread crumbs and corn in a greased pan. Broil until crispy.
Now, in February, I am on my last bag of peppers. My friend Delphine shared this awesome Death by Chocolate recipe that can be made from fresh or frozen peppers. The cocoa powder and fruit help mellow the hot peppers, which is good because I have a surplus.
The hot sauce can be used liberally over anything. Classic combos include tacos, burritos, eggs, or a burger. Drizzled over seafood, meats, and pasta also taste great. Use on sandwiches, chili, creamed soups, and in salad dressings. Death by Chocolate Hot Sauce is versatile and can also be added to ice cream, cake, fruit, or hot chocolate. Spice up this Valentine’s Day with a chocolate-flavored hot sauce. Below are the peppers that I used, but you can substitute any hot peppers you enjoy.
Photo by Delphine Geraci
Death by Chocolate Hot Sauce Recipe
• 2 quarts water
• 4 cups pitted black cherries
• 1 cup chocolate bhut peppers
• 1 ancho pepper
• 2 tbsp salt
• 1/2 cup Cocoa powder
• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 1/2 cup sugar
1. Bring the above to a boil, then simmer for two hours.
2. Pass contents through a food mill. Return to pot and reduce contents to two quarts.
3. Use a hand blender to mix in 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional). Bottle.
Kenny Coogan is a pet, garden, and travel columnist for various magazines. His goal is to live off the land, planting one seed at a time on his one-acre permaculture homestead. Search “Critter Companions by Kenny Coogan” on Facebook or KennyCoogan.com to learn more.