When it comes to spice, habanero peppers pack a powerful punch! They’re popular in hot sauces and Mexican cuisine, and they’re delicious in a variety of dishes. There’s no end to how you can use this tasty, spicy pepper, from roasting to grilling to pureeing into a sauce or oil. Soon, you’ll be able to top your eggs with habanero hot sauce or add roasted habaneros to your next batch of chilli.
Habanero Hot Sauce
- 12 habanero chiles, fresh or dried
- 6 peeled cloves of garlic
- 2 peeled and halved onions
- 2 chopped large carrots (optional)
- 2 quartered tomatoes (optional)
- Olive oil
- 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
- 1 cup (240 mL) of white wine vinegar
Makes about 4 cups (950 mL) of hot sauce
Method 1 Ways to Cook Habaneros
1. To quickly roast peppers, use a gas stovetop. This also imparts a delicious smoky char to the peppers. Turn on a high burner and place a pepper directly on the flames. Turn the pepper with a pair of tongs every few minutes until the entire exterior is black, which will take a few minutes. Rep with as many peppers as you require. Fill a bowl halfway with roasted peppers and cover with plastic wrap or a lid. After the peppers have cooled, peel the skins off by hand.
This method is ideal for preparing a few peppers for a dish.
Roasted habanero peppers can be used in salsas and hot sauces. Add a small amount to pasta or pizza, or toss a few strips on top of a sandwich for a spicy kick.
Roasted peppers can be stored in the refrigerator for 5 days or frozen for 2 months.
2. Grill habanero peppers to get a charred flavour. Preheat the grill to high and place the habanero peppers directly over the flames. Allow the peppers to roast for 10 minutes, turning every 2-3 minutes. Allow the peppers to steam in a covered bowl until they cool, then peel the skins away.
If you don’t have a gas stovetop or need to prepare a large batch of habaneros at once, this method is ideal.
These peppers will keep in the fridge for about 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
3. Sauté habanero peppers over medium-high heat to soften them. Heat some oil in a skillet before adding the de-seeded and sliced habanero peppers. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the peppers begin to soften visibly. If desired, season with chile powder, cumin, or paprika.
Sautéed habaneros are delicious in fajitas, tacos, and quesadillas. You could also use them to spice up chilli, soup, or other dishes.
4. To add some heat to your dishes, make a hot chile oil. 8 habanero peppers, stems removed Broil the peppers for 4-6 minutes on a baking sheet lined with aluminium foil, turning them every 2 minutes, until the skins are blackened. Place the peppers in a blender with 12 cup (120 mL) olive oil and blend until smooth.
Refrigerate the oil, covered, for up to 1 week.
Method 2 Habanero Hot Sauce
1. To bring out the flavour of 12 dried habanero peppers, toast and soak them. You can skip this step if you’re using fresh habaneros. Toss the dried habanero peppers in a dry skillet for a few minutes, or until their aroma is released. Then, soak the peppers in a bowl of hot water for 15 minutes to rehydrate them.
The consistency of dried peppers would not work well in a pureed hot sauce, which is why you should soak them before using them.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius). It will only take a few minutes for your oven to heat up, which is ideal. You can use that time to prepare the remaining ingredients.
3. To reduce the heat, de-seed your 12 habanero peppers. This is true for both dried and fresh peppers. The white pith and seeds contain the majority of the habanero’s heat, so removing them makes your peppers much more palatable (don’t worry—they’ll still be plenty hot!). Open the peppers and remove the white membranes and seeds with a sharp knife.
When working with habanero peppers, always wear gloves. Otherwise, you risk getting hot oil on your hands or face, which is extremely painful.
4. 6 garlic cloves, 2 onions, 2 tomatoes, and 2 large carrots should be prepped. Peel the garlic and onions, remove the skins, and cut the onions in half with a sharp knife. If you’re adding tomatoes and carrots to your hot sauce to add sweetness, quarter the tomatoes and chop the carrots into smaller pieces.
Even though everything will be pureed in the food processor at the end, the garlic and onion skins will not puree well and will ruin the texture of the hot sauce.
5. Drizzle olive oil over the garlic, onions, and fresh habaneros. If you’re using dried habanero peppers, skip this step. Arrange the vegetables on a baking sheet. Drizzle a little olive oil over them.
Because they’ve already been softened, rehydrated habanero peppers can go straight into the food processor. Fresh habaneros require time in the oven to soften their flesh, making them easier to puree.
6. For 30 minutes, roast the fresh habanero peppers, garlic, and onions. Set a timer for 15 minutes and place the baking sheet in the oven. Use the time to clean up the kitchen or cook your carrots and tomatoes, if using them.
7. To add a sweeter element to your sauce, sauté the carrots and tomatoes. Finish preparing the carrots and tomatoes, if using, while the other vegetables roast. In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat a small amount of olive oil. Cook for 5 minutes after adding the 2 quartered tomatoes and 2 chopped carrots to the hot oil. When they’re done, transfer them to the food processor.
The freshness of these vegetables adds a nice depth to your recipe, but you can completely omit this step if you prefer.
8. In a food processor, puree the vegetables and 1 large bunch of cilantro. Transfer the roasted peppers, onions, and garlic to a food processor with care. If using, stir in the carrots and tomatoes. Toss in a bunch of cilantro, close the lid, and begin pureeing. Continue until the mixture is completely smooth.
For a different flavour, try a pinch of cumin or some lime juice.
Many habanero hot sauces contain a small amount of grapefruit or orange juice. Don’t be afraid to experiment with brighter and sweeter acids alongside the heat of the habanero.
9. 1 cup (240 mL) white wine vinegar, stirred in, and season to taste You’ve arrived at the exciting part! Start tasting your hot sauce after you’ve added the vinegar and given it a few good stirs. Taste and season with salt if necessary. Continue to mix, test, and adjust the hot sauce until it is to your liking.
You could also add lime juice, more vinegar, or other spices to the mix in addition to adjusting the salt level.
10. If the hot sauce is too thick, add 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of water at a time. Hot sauce should be thinner than creamed soup but thicker than broth when dripping off a spoon. If your hot sauce won’t pour easily from a jar, add water until it’s the right consistency.
Wait until the end to do this step because the white wine vinegar will thin out your sauce.
11. Refrigerate your hot sauce in an airtight container for at least two months. Place the sauce in a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. Put it in the refrigerator and label it with the “date made.” For the best flavour, use it within a few months.
If you notice mould or if your hot sauce begins to smell strange, discard it.
Method 3 Prep, Safety, and Storage
1. Protect your hands from burns and irritation by wearing gloves. It doesn’t matter how much you adore hot peppers; chances are they won’t reciprocate. Wear gloves to keep the pain-causing oils off your hands, and never touch your face until you’ve removed the gloves and thoroughly washed your hands.
Capsaicin is abundant in hot peppers such as habaneros. Capsaicin is what gives peppers their heat, but it can also get on your hands, in the air, and anywhere you touch.
2. To reduce the heat, remove the seeds and white membranes. The heat in peppers is stored in the seeds and the white membranes visible when you cut them open. In general, when cooking with habaneros, it’s a good idea to remove these parts.
The white membrane is also known as the pith. It’s what keeps all those scorching little seeds in place.
3. Start with a small amount of habanero and add more as desired. Remember, you can always add more heat, but it’s difficult to remove it. If you can handle a little more heat, try adding more habanero to your dish.
If you cut up more habaneros than you need, store the extras in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They must be used within a week.
4. With milk, cool habanero burns. To relieve pain from any type of hot pepper, including habaneros, you can drink milk or even apply it to your skin. Because the heat from the habanero is produced by oil, drinking water will simply spread the heat around. Milk will actually dissolve it.
You could also use lemon juice to treat skin burns.
5. Fresh habanero peppers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Put them in a paper bag and store them in the crisper section of your fridge to help them last as long as possible.
Label them with the date or set a reminder in your phone so you can use them or put them in the freezer on time.
6. Habanero peppers can be sliced and frozen for up to 12 months. Slice and de-seed any peppers you won’t be able to use before they go bad. Place the peppers in a freezer-safe container or bag and freeze them.
The peppers will still be safe to use after a year; however, they will taste better the sooner you use them.
7. Dried habaneros can be stored in an airtight container for 3-6 months. The peppers will last longer than that, but they will taste best if used within 6 months of being stored. Put the airtight container in the fridge or freezer, depending on your preference.
If you don’t always have access to fresh hot peppers, dried habaneros are a great option to keep on hand.
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