This week I’m making hot sauce, a condiment that seems to be ever-growing in popularity and one that has many uses. Whether you’re someone who carries a bottle around wherever you go or simply likes to add a kick to your meals now and again, I think making your own is a great way to save a bit of money and cut out many of the unhealthy additives which are present in a lot of brand hot sauces.

Photo: James Fox

Making your own is a very simple and enjoyable process and you can give as much care and effort as you wish. For a really simple and tasty hot sauce, just go to your local supermarket and buy lots of the hottest chillies you can find. I went for about six red chillies, a dozen bird’s eye and one scotch bonnet. Chuck them in a blender along with half an onion, a red bell pepper, a few grilled tomatoes, eight cloves of garlic, a dash of olive oil and a decent slosh of vinegar. The choice of vinegar is up to you; apple cider works well. Season generously with salt, pepper and brown sugar. Once you’ve blended it thoroughly, gently heat in a pan to allow the flavours to combine. If you like your hot sauce think and chunky, leave it at that. For a smoother end product, sieve out some of the bits then get it back on the heat to reduce and slightly thicken the sauce. For storage, sterilise a glass container by soaking it in boiling water and your sauce should be good for several months.

This is a very basic sauce and once you’ve got it down you can make all kinds of modifications to suit your own taste. Those really serious about spice might want to look further afield to get especially hot chillies. If you’re a seasoned consumer of hot sauce, the chillies available in an average UK supermarket simply won’t be hot enough. Different chillies work with different ingredients and it’s all about trying out different things to see what you like.

Subbing out sugar for other sweet flavours like honey or fresh fruit is a great way to make some simple variations. Adding citrus gives your sauce some nice tang if you don’t like it so sweet. Don’t be afraid to add other spices like cloves, cardamom and star anise to complement whatever food you intend to add the sauce to. The great thing about hot sauce is that practically anything goes and it’s so easy to make that there’s plenty of scope for experimentation.

Photo: James Fox

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