Tag Archives: hot peppers

Carolina Reaper Pepper Hot Sauce

In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a new top dog in the world of spiciness. You probably know all about jalapeños, maybe even serranos and habañeros. If you’re a true spice afficianado, you might even be aware of the previous holder of the record for the world’s hottest: the Scorpion Pepper.

Well, since August 7, 2013, the new top dog in town, crowned by the Guinness Book of World Records, is a gnarly looking pepper with a shape reminiscent of a flame: the Carolina Reaper.

Bred as a child of the previous record holders the Bhut jolokia (also known as the Ghost Pepper or ghost chilie) and a red habañero, the Reaper was developed by pepper expert Ed Currie in South Carolina. A man driven by the pursuit of health which led to the pursuit of heat, Ed has been breeding and processing peppers for several decades.

One day while strolling, I noticed a bush, with some strange looking orange fruits. Of course I was interested, as an incurable foodie and forager. I snapped some pictures and went home to research. In short order I found out the above information, and confirmed these were indeed Carolina Reaper peppers! They happened to be in a public garden space, so I quickly snatched a few with no recipe in mind, but a burning curiosity (see what I did there??).

Carolina Reaper pepper plant

Once I got home with my trio of terror, I started googling recipes. Turns out not many people want to tangle with the Reaper in their kitchen, and for good reason. Too much heat can produce burning sensations, raise your temperature and blood pressure. In extreme cases, you can lose feeling in your hands or face, start shaking or even have a seizure, and become unable to breathe.

The way pepper heat is measuring is using the Scoville Heat Unit scale. An average jalapeno hits about 8,000 SHU, whereas pepper spray (the kind meant to completely disable attackers) is around 2 million SHU. The Reaper averages about 1.5 million, with the hottest plant on record hitting 2.2 million Scoville units.

So basically, a Reaper is the equivalent of pepper spray.

This recipe is for a homemade hot sauce; if you are using Reapers or other similarly strong peppers, please use caution. Make sure you have food-grade gloves to protect your hands, and make it in a well ventilated area. Leaving the seeds in always makes it hotter, so if you truly want to bring the pain, leave in the seeds. I did not…

The recipe works with all types of hot peppers, so you can sub in your favorite kind, or mix and match. This makes about 14 ounces of hot sauce.

Carolina Reaper hot pepper hot sauce ingredients


  • 2 Carolina Reapers
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • garlic salt to taste

Carolina Reaper pepper hot sauce ingredients

Step 1: Cut the tops off the peppers and discard. In a food processor or blender, chop the garlic, onion, and peppers. Add the vinegar and spices. If you want it totally smooth, add the tomatoes and blend well until liquid. Otherwise, add the tomatoes just before canning.

Carolina Reaper pepper hot sauce

I could have cooked the sauce down to thicken it a bit more, but I didn’t want to take the chance. Even just boiling it on a stove might create fumes that I didn’t want to deal with.

I jarred it in two glass jelly jars. If you want to process them in a canning or pressure bath the sauce can be stored in the pantry for years. Otherwise, store in the refrigerator for up to one year.

Hubs insisted on labeling the sauce appropriately: “Death For Sure”.

He had a burger, and put about 4 drops on it, spread all over the patty. He said that was a good amount to create a “nice burn” for the next several hours. I stuck a fork in the sauce, let the actual sauce drip off, then licked the fork, and my mouth and tongue tingled for at least 2 hours after… suffice it to say, I won’t be using much of this! The sauce should last us a good long time.


Have you ever, or would you, try a Carolina Reaper? Do you make your own hot sauces?

Spicy Green Beans


Ever try to get a child, or significant other, or friend, or yourself, to eat a new vegetable?  Sometimes, it is just fine. But most of the time, it does not go over well. You’re greeted with scrunched up noses, tongues sticking out, and a chorus of “ewwww!”.

Well, I have good news for you. I know of several tricks to get new vegetables to at the least be considered, if not openly adored. One involves trying it in a new texture. I’ve found that pan-frying or baking until crispy can render some normally off-putting veg nearly irresistible.


The second trick is spice. Usually the hot kind, but also all kinds of spices. Familiarize yourself with different spices, fresh and dried, ground and whole. Peppers are a whole world of their own, from as innocuous as bells and jalapenos up through cherry peppers, poblanos, and serranos.

While they are in season, pick them up cheap at the store or farmer’s market (or better yet, grow your own, peppers are very forgiving and easy growing!) and they freeze or dehydrate beautifully for salsas and recipes all year long.



  • 1 cup fresh green beans (or any pole bean)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ground or fresh diced hot pepper
  • 1 tsp dried or fresh diced garlic
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp olive oil


Step 1: Put the olive oil and green beans in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, until beans start to brown.


Step 2: Add the garlic, tomatoes, soy sauce, and hot pepper. You can use any kind of tomatoes, or forget about them and just cook the beans too. I happened to have a yellow pear tomato plant that just exploded with fruit so I used those. It adds a nice juicy, fresh taste.


Cook until tomatoes burst, and most of the liquid is evaporated. Serve hot!

These come out crunchy yet easy to chew, with a very fun texture. If you let them cool slightly, they can be great finger foods. Obviously you can adjust the level of heat to the comfort level of whoever is eating them. Add extra hot peppers to convince a doubtful male to try it (Seriously, spice works to conceal a lot of “vegetal” tastes most dudes don’t love), or dial it back for those who are new to spices.

You can even omit the hot pepper at all for children, or people who are allergic or just don’t like hot pepper. But I’d suggest giving it a try, you’ll never go back to canned beans once you’ve tried this delish dish!


Preserving Hot Peppers


Peppers are probably the kind of plant which has most wow-ed me with its prolific seeds. Every time I crack open a bell pepper to make stuffed peppers, or hollow a jalapeno to make poppers, there are mounds of seeds inside. Even in the tiniest pepper, there are likely more seeds than you can count on just your hands.

Pro tip: you can save these seeds and dry them out, and then plant your own pepper garden! Just one jalapeno may produce dozens of plants. Yes, even peppers you buy at the grocery store. Just cut the stem side off, scrape the seeds away from the ribs inside, and dry them on a piece of paper. Store in a cool dark place until you’re ready to plant outside or in a container.

photo 1(1)

Another thing that is amazing about peppers is the sheer variety. From the mild sweet bell pepper to the jalapeno, habanero, or even the ghost chili, there are literally thousands of varieties. Peppers can spontaneously mutate, so even if you save seeds year to year, you can get new color patterns or heat levels. The amount of water and sun, location and type of soil can also affect the peppers.

I’ve been trying, for the past few years, to get more brave about cooking and eating spicier foods. The chemical that makes peppers taste hot & spicy is most often capsaicin. This compound irritates mucous membranes and causes inflammation, and pain if in too high a dose. However, capsaicin also has many health benefits for your heart, blood pressure, anti-diabetes, and more.

photo 4

One of the ways I’ve found to incorporate more spicy foods into my cooking is by using jarred jalapenos. These little guys store forever, and add a bit kick to pizza, salads, sandwiches, chili, pasta, and more. I’ve bought jalapenos in a jar at the store, but this year I had access to an heirloom Italian jalapeno variety, as well as several others like cayenne, poblano, and red cherry peppers.

Thus, I needed a way to use them all up. As state, peppers are very prolific. On one plant, I’ve seen nearly 100 peppers, if the fruit is tiny. No joke.

So given all the health benefits, and the fact that I cannot use them up fast enough before they spoil, jarring seemed like the best way to preserve the summer’s spicy bounty. Turns out, they are ridiculously easy to make. Just look on a jar of peppers at the store, you will see there is likely fewer than ten ingredients. This homemade version needs three.

You can of course can hot or regular peppers, but you must use a pressure canner, not a water bath. There are significant botulism risks if you do not use a pressure canner. However, by adding vinegar, you are effectively pickling the peppers. This prevents harmful bacterias and other nasties from growing. I also store mine right in the fridge.

photo 2(1) copy 2

Ingredients (this makes about a pint):

  • 1-2 cups of peppers (all one kind or a variety)
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sea salt

photo 2(1)

Step 1: Cut the tops off the peppers, then cut down the side ribs and pull out the seeds. Leave the seeds in if you want it extra spicy. Also, it is highly recommended to wear gloves while cutting hot peppers! I made the mistake of not wearing gloves the first time, and my hands were on fire for days.

photo 1(1) copy 2

Step 2: Shove all your pepper rings into the jar. Cover with the vinegar about 2/3 full. Pour on the sea salt.

photo 4 copy

Step 3: Add distilled water to the top of the jar, then close it and shake it up, until the salt dissolves. You can of course actually can them, using glass mason jars and steam or pressure canning methods. These processed jars can be stored at room temperature for a longer period of time.

photo 3 copy

Put the jar in the fridge, and it will be there until you’re ready to use them!

These peppers can make a great little gift, especially if you layer multi-colored peppers in a clear jar. They are quite pretty. These peppers can be eaten as is, on pizza, in soups or chili, and more. It will keep in the refrigerator for several months.

photo 1(1) copy

For a great way to bring back the warm thoughts of summer during the bitter cold of winter, try planning out your garden for spring! Go to websites like Pepper Joe’s Gardening Tips, Hot Pepper Seeds, or the Almanac to find answers to questions, tips on what types of species grow best where you live, organic and heirloom seeds, and more.