Ian Portman’s Original-Style Tabasco Sauce

This Caribbean pepper is famous for being the hottest chile pepper in the world. They come in a variety of shapes and colors(yellow, orange,green, red,chocolate). Not only are they extremely hot, but they also have a unique,distinctively fruity flavor.

It is the key ingredient in the popular Jamaican Jerk sauce. The habanero is also widely used in many different types of hot sauces. The popularity of this chile pepper continues to grow and is becoming easier to find on the grocery shelf.

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4 lb chile peppers (a 50/50 mix of red habanero and cayenne work well)
sea salt


Rough chop peppers and remove stems but not the seeds. Pieces about 1 cm long are ideal. Put the peppers in a bowl and add about 1 heaped Tbsp of salt for every pound of peppers (in this case, 4 Tbsp of salt). Mix well.

Put the salted peppers into a container and put a weight on top. By the next morning, enough brine should have formed to completely cover the peppers. If not, add just enough water to cover the peppers. Push down any peppers sticking above the surface. Leave it somewhere warm, covered with a cloth.

Within 3 days to 1 week, things should be getting funky. The lactic acid bacteria will be doing their thing and the brew should start to bubble. This will go on for one to two months depending on the sugar content of the peppers and the salt content. It’s a good idea to skim the foam off the top once in a while.

When it stops bubbling, you have pickled peppers. You may eat them as they are or make a sauce.

For the sauce, strain the peppers and mash them with a mortar and pestle (or use a blender), then add them back to the brine. Add about 10% of a pale vinegar. Let it stand a few weeks to settle before use.

By Ian Portman.