I’ve made this hot sauce scores of times by now, and I don’t think I’ve ever made it quite the same way twice. But it’s always superb and I usually wind up sending heat-loving friends home with a jar. You really can’t go wrong if you remain roughly within in the proportions of the recipe, which you can see clearly in my photo of my filled blender jar.
The key ingredient is, of course, fresh habañero pepper (also known as the scotch bonnet). If you just find habañeros “hot,” then this probably isn’t the condiment for you. But if you find them fruity, sweet, and incidentally hot, you’re going to love it. While the cilantro is optional (since some people hate it and some people love it), it’s essential for those who enjoy the flavor.
If you’re out of pineapple juice, orange juice works as well. Pureed mango may work even better. I’ve experimented with adding small amounts of lemon or lime juice with interesting results, but you really need sweetness in there, so if you swap out the pineapple juice for a more sour citrus, make sure to increase the brown sugar. You could substitute honey or molasses for the brown sugar, but it’ll change the taste so make sure those are flavors you like. Cheap yellow mustard (the kind I used to eat on Nathan’s hot dogs as a kid) is an essential ingredient. For me, the recipe isn’t as tasty without garlic, but if you’re allergic I don’t think you’ll ruin anything by omitting it.
You also can’t do without the vinegar, though you can play with vinegar flavors. It’s the combination of vinegar and hot peppers that’ll ensure this hot sauce will keep almost forever in your refrigerator (but not outside it). If you don’ have enough room in your refrigerator for several jars, you can freeze them. Just remember to leave space at the top of the jar for the hot sauce to expand in the freezer.
Fruity Habañero Hot Sauce
- 1 blender
- habañero peppers
- cilantro (optional)
- white onion (yellow onions are also fine)
- yellow mustard
- fresh garlic
- dark brown sugar
- fresh or canned pineapple juice
- fruit vinegar (pear or apple work best, but white or white wine vinegar will do in a pinch)
- Layer all ingredients in the blender. If you have a Blendtec, Vitamix or other powerful blender, use the "whole juice" setting. You may have to blend twice to make the sauce perfectly smooth.
- Pour into bottles or jars and store in the refrigerator or freezer.