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Habaneros – my favorite! I have three bushes that have yielded extraordinary volumes of these peppers this year, so I have “put up” the fruits at a record pace…and still have much more to go. Despite their off-the-chart heat levels, they are truly fruity in nature and combine very well (in my opinion) with other fruits (pineapple, mango, peaches, etc.), and I have very successfully made hot versions of jams by adding a habanero or two (deseeded and diced) into various recipes. Real crowd-pleasers those. Best of all was Habanero-Peach Jam. Here are a few additional ways I use habaneros below.
Rule No. 1 regarding habaneros: ALWAYS wear gloves! I keep surgical gloves on hand and they are cheap buys by the box at drug stores. Get them!
Sugar does amazing things and especially so with these lethal little creatures. This is my signature jelly (ahem), which is delicate and a lovely orange naturally, or may be tinted blood red. Usually served as an appetizer on a cracker spread with cream cheese. When you take a bite, there is an approximate 10-second crescendo to an almost paralyzing burn in your mouth, then a similar quick decrescendo and the heat completely disappears. And the stuff is absolutely outstanding when used as a glaze while roasting a pork roast.
4-5 red, ripe habaneros, seeded and chopped (use gloves!!!)
2 large red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 Cup apple cider vinegar
½ Cup good red wine vinegar
6 Cups sugar
1 packet liquid pectin (I use Certo)
Combine the chopped peppers and vinegars into a blender and puree. Pour into a heavy and tall saucepan, add the sugar and blend well. Over High heat, bring the mixture to a full boil for two minutes, then strain the mixture. (Rinse out your saucepan.) Return the strained liquid to the saucepan and return to a full boil over High heat for another five minutes. Remove from heat and add liquid pectin (and food coloring, if you wish). Ladle carefully into half-pint jars. Clean the rims of the jars and securely affix the lids. Process in a hot water bath for fifteen minutes. (Makes about 7 half pints.)
Chernobyl Pepper Sauce (It has taken me years to get this one right.)
12 habanero peppers
2 Cups water, brought to boil
2 carrots, chopped
1 lg. onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
½ Tbsp. canning/kosher salt
¼ Tbsp. of finely ground fresh black pepper
8 Tbsp red wine vinegar
First, place the habaneros in boiling water and blanch for about 30 seconds. Remove and place into a bowl of ice water. Drain and rub off the skins (discard those). Cut the habanero peppers in half and scrape away the seeds. Set aside. Add the chopped onions and carrots to the boiling water and cook until the carrots are tender. Drain vegetables.
Into your blender, combine the juice from the lime and all other ingredients. Puree until smooth. Pour into a pint jar and store in fridge. I have saved many pepper sauce jars that have narrow mouths, instead of plastic inserts (like Tabasco uses), and I refill these with this recipe. Actually, this is a great way to use up lots of the peppers at once. – I make multiple batches throughout the summer and can into pint jars. Then I open the jars and funnel into bottles (then chill them!) just before giving out as gifts during the holidays with jelly.
½ Cup Mayonnaise
½ Cup Sour Cream
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. fresh basil
1 Tbsp. fresh mint
1 habanero, deseeded and miced
Add all ingredients in your blender and puree. Chill well (2 hrs) and serve with crackers, etc. with sliced grape tomatoes. Also great as dip for shrimp, boiled or fried.
1 8-oz can of pineapple tidbits (reserve juice)
½ Cup red bell pepper, diced
¼ Cup Vidalia (sweet) onion, diced
¼ Cup fresh cilantro, chopped well
1 large lime
1 habanero, deseeded and minced
pinch of salt
Grate the rind of the lime into a bowl, then squeeze to add all of its juice. Add all other ingredients, including reserved pineapple juice and mix well. Chill for 2 hours. This is a killer salsa on grilled tuna or crab cakes.
Make the same recipe above, but substitute 1 ripe mango, peeled and diced, for the pineapple and add 1 can of black beans (that have been rinsed well). Fabulous on grilled pork chops!
For Hot Wings, I add a deseeded and diced habanero to a bottle of BBQ sauce, simmered in a saucepan for 30 minutes or so.
As mentioned, I freeze habaneros straight from the garden (washed, of course). I also like keeping ground habaneros on hand (in saved spice containers). They are easily dried, but MUST ALWAYS be ground outside (I have a coffee grinder for this unique use). To dry: remove the stems and arrange the peppers on a rack placed inside a cookie sheet. Place in a slow oven (150-degrees) for about 18 hours, with the door left barely ajar. Warning: drying these peppers this way will produce a scent throughout your home reminiscent of walking into a marijuana den in the 70s…. Grind 2-3 peppers at a time.
So experiment away and let your creativity fly. These are just a few ways that I have developed over the years and would really enjoy learning how you pros would expand on this topic…!
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is Optional.