This last week I finished making our family’s favorite: Sriracha. All the men in our family love this spicy condiment and chances are your’s do too. It’s on our table at almost every meal. Last year for Christmas stocking stuffers, I bought sriracha key-chain bottles and filled it with my homemade sauce. Now they carry it to work with them. It is so easy to make I hope you’ll try your hand at it. It takes a few days, as long as a week, so get started on it now.
Start by getting a ceramic crocks, the kind with the latch that seals them tight. You can use a glass jar, but these crocks are so much better–they keep the mix cool and protect it from light. They’re also perfect for sourdough and culturing other vegetables (like kim chee), so they’ll get plenty of use. They’re all over the place at every thrift store for just a couple dollars, so get at least one good sized one. I usually triple my recipe, so I have three.
OK, so here’s the basic recipe:
2 lbs red peppers
6 cloves garlic
1 small onion
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 C white vinegar
Red jalapeno peppers are traditionally used for this, but as you can see in my pictures, I used a variety of peppers. At least some were the super hot Scotch Bonnet and the Asian Datil peppers. (My guys like it HOT!) I also added a few green, yellow and orange peppers. I didn’t have enough red ones for a complete recipe and since it all gets blended together, you’ll never see the green ones.
Wash peppers, cut off the stems and remove all or most of the seeds. (Wear gloves!) It’s OK if you don’t get all the seeds, but if you leave too many seeds in, it will be inhumanely hot. Peel the garlic and onions and quarter the onions. Put all the vegetables into the food processor and pulse until everything is finely chopped. Put all of this into a large bowl and add remaining ingredients–sugar, salt and vinegar. Stir well.
Put your mixture into a glass jar container. Use the ceramic crock mentioned above or a mason jar with a tight fitting lid. If you use a mason jar, be sure to store the mix in a cupboard so that it is not exposed to light. Seal it up and put it aside.
Stir this mixture every day. Smell that delicious aroma? When you stir it, you’ll see bubbles. This is the peppers fermenting. Fermenting draws out the pepper’s flavor and it also helps soften the seeds so you get some good heat from the seeds. After 5-7 days, when you don’t see any more bubbles, the fermenting is done and your mix is ready to process.
Put your now fermented mixture into a heavy large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes. When everything is nicely stewed and softened, you will start blending it into a sauce in batches. Put a portion of it into the blender and blend it until smooth. If it is too thick you can add vinegar or water. Repeat until everything is blended.
To strain or not to strain?
This is a matter of personal choice. Most of the sriracha recipes online will tell you to strain the blended mixture. This will eliminate any small bits of seeds or skin that didn’t get thoroughly blended and produces a nice, smooth sauce, just like what’s in the store. But after a few taste tests, the unanimous opinion in our house is to leave it chunky and unstrained. The unstrained sauce has a little more heat and the skins and seeds give it added layers of flavor.
To strain your sauce, just put a couple cups into a sieve and stir with a spoon until all that’s left is the (somewhat) dry remains of seeds and skins.
That’s it. Store your sauce in the fridge in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Most recipes tell you that the sauce will keep for a couple months in the fridge, but I make a triple batch of sriracha and that’s enough to last us about a year. I store it in a 1/2 gallon jar and pour just enough for one month’s use into a squeeze bottle. By limiting exposure to air I’ve never had any spoilage.
Our first year we washed out and used an old sriracha bottle, but it was hard to keep the tip clean and our thicker (lumpier) sauce often clogged the hole, so we now use a condiment squeeze bottle. (This squeeze bottle duo is really inexpensive as an add-on to any Amazon order.)
I hope you’ll try your hand at making this tasty sauce. Choose hotter or milder peppers to get the kind of heat you want. Use a variety of peppers for a more complex flavor. There’s really no wrong way to make sriracha. And trust me, you will love it.