Hot sauce

Hot sauce can be made in inifinite flavor and heat levels by tweaking what peppers you use. (Photo and styling by John Houser III, for The Baltimore Sun / August 29, 2012)

Chili peppers are the sadists of the fruit kingdom. They love nothing better than to make people look like a child after watching "Old Yeller." Teary eyes, a runny nose, whimpering and an animalistic craving for cold water (which won't help, by the way) can be the result of eating chili peppers.

There are many different varieties of chili peppers, each with different levels of heat. From June until late November, the local farmers' markets sell many of these varieties. From the uncommon Bangalore torpedo to the ever-present jalapeno, farmers' markets contain a surprising wealth of pepper diversity. Peppers are great to chop up and throw into recipes for a fiery kick, but peppers really shine when distilled to their essence in hot sauce. Most people just buy it premade, but as with most culinary endeavors, the end product of homemade hot sauce is far superior to anything you can get at the store. This recipe is a base outline that can be modified and tweaked to suit your own taste. I tamed the heat in this one by including more subtle peppers with a few hot peppers. I also used all red, all green or a combination of the two colors of pepper. That's the beauty of this recipe; you can make it as hot or sweet as you want in multiple colors.

john@rouxde.com

Hot sauce

Makes: about 3 cups

1 pound chili peppers (red or green), stemmed and chopped

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup cider vinegar

5 ounces (1 medium) chopped tomato (use red tomatoes for red sauce and yellow tomatoes for green)

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar

2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped

Combine everything into a medium sauce pot. Cover the pot and over high heat, bring contents to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium low, uncover the pot (do not inhale fumes that escape), stir the contents, then simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer pepper mixture to a blender and blend for 30 seconds. Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Place into a container. Hot sauce will keep for a few months or until you consume all of it.