Strawberry Reaper Hot Sauce

HOT.

But not SO hot you can’t enjoy it.

Our household enjoys heat within our menus. It’s no surprise to most who follow our recipes here at DBF. Yes, hot sauces and chili peppers abound. And being gardeners? Well…

Every year we grow a variety of super hots. Chili peppers have such a wide range of flavors and notes and heat levels… it’s on our Top 5 Grow List for-ever for that reason! (They’re also gorgeous and unique and fun to grow once you learn how to grow them efficiently.)

This year we grew Habaneros, Carbaneros, Fresnos, Cayenne, Scotch Bonnets, Anchos, Jalepeños and lastly, this baby: the Carolina Reaper. (cue demonic laugh) One plant – infinite burn. So far I have harvested 10 pods off it (with more on the horizon…)

Most super hot sauces are made with a fruit or mix of fruits and vegetables as a means to dilute, enhance or round out the heat/notes/flavor of the peppers within.

Because there are other elements within hot sauces (including herbs and vinegars) this allows for SO MUCH creativity when it comes to creating them.

There are so many recipes out there. And soooo many places to get inspiration to create your own.

That is my sweet spot. Reading other amazing recipes, then crafting a recipe that is unique and based on our family’s taste in flavor profile and heat level.

Now a bit about Caroline Reapers: THEY ARE CURRENTLY (9/2021) THE HOTTEST PEPPER ON RECORD IN THE WORLD. (Check THIS reference from Pepperhead which also discusses a few rumored peppers out there that might dethrone the Reaper.) They have a 2,200,000 SHU (Scoville rating) …. like that is more than twice as hot as a Ghost pepper (which is 1.041M SHU by the way.)

So, when we say this is a hot sauce – it is a HOOOOT sauce.

This version of the sauce is extremely accessible, however (even in light of the scary rating it has, the reaper heat is a wonderful heat if prepared the right way.)

My husband can handle WAY more heat than I can. I like hot sauce, but he has a collection.

This is the hot sauce I made with Reapers FOR MY TASTES. Just to put into perspective for anyone worrying that this is going to be the hottest thing out there. It is NOT.

BUT – fair warning… if you worry about it – use HALF of the reapers than I did (which was only 2…)

If you are ready – let’s get at it!

NOTE: This pepper is so hot, cutting it and cooking require a PLAN and PROTECTION. #1: I use latex gloves whenever working with super hot peppers (you will get a surface burn and trust me, you don’t to accidentally touch your eye or… ahem, other sensitive areas.) #2: I cook these hot sauces OUTSIDE. Yes, outside. If you have a Coleman camping stove (I always say get one even if you don’t camp as they’re amazing in emergency situations like power outages or helping out at a friend’s bbq!) set that puppy up outside away from any open windows. You do NOT want to basically give yourself a chemical burn AND pepper spray your entire home making one hot sauce.

INGREDIENTS (makes 7-8 CUPS of hot sauce or 12 – 5oz woozy bottles… so be ready… good news is hot sauce is a great gift and can last a LONG TIME in your fridge.)

  • 2 Caroline Reaper pods, de-seeded and halved
  • 2 Large Red Sweet Peppers, de-seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 Large Orange Sweet Pepper, de-seeded and roughly chopped
  • 5 Shishito peppers, chopped (OPTIONAL or another non-hot snacking pepper… NOT a green bell)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 of a sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, sliced into rounds
  • 2 lbs of fresh strawberries, tops trimmed off
  • 1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar (with ‘The Mother’ if possible)
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

INSTRUCTIONS (these are going to be quite different than normal… if you’ve never worked with super hots, there are serious precautions to take.)

  1. Gather all of your cooking, blending and bottling supplies and bring them outside (YES, trust me on this.)
  2. Grab two sets of latex gloves and bring those outside (Yes. Again, yes.)
  3. Take your ingredients outside as well, a cutting board. I mean, I used this as a PERFECT excuse to enjoy my patio on a sunny afternoon and cooking something amazing at the same time.
  4. Set up your camp stove and add the oil to a medium, heavy bottom sauce pan. DO NOT TURN ON STOVE YET.
  5. Prep your ingredients BUT NOT THE REAPER (no gloves needed yet, and your knife isn’t spreading the capsaisin throughout your ingredients!)
  6. PUT ON GLOVES. Prep your reapers and keep separate from other ingredients on your cutting board.
  7. Turn on your camp stove to high heat
  8. When oil is about to start smoking, add reapers and STEP BACK. Everyone likes to take a sniff of things they are cooking… DO NOT DO THIS! You will burn your nostrils.
  9. Using a spoon or spatula, press the reaper pods down, holding in place, trying to blacken them. Once you start to see the skins crisping/almost toasted, add the remaining peppers (ONLY PEPPERS.)
  10. Cook over high heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, with the intention to toast/blacken bits of your pepper mix.
  11. DO NOT SNIFF! Trust me, you will be temped. Even though there’s only 4 little bits of reaper pod in there, it is enough to make that sniff very painful.
  12. Add remaining ingredients to mixer and quickly pulse to break down a bit.
  13. Add pepper mixture to the blender and run at high speed for 2 minutes.
  14. Return the blended sauce to the sauce pan and turn burner on low/medium heat
  15. Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes (do not let it boil to hard, reduce heat to low if it is above a simmer.)
  16. Take cooked/reduced sauce and put back in blender and again blend for 2-3 minutes on HIGH SPEED.
  17. Take a quick taste and adjust anything you think is needed (salt and vinegar are the most common notes needing adjustment in a sauce like this.)
  18. Transfer sauce to your woozy bottles using a metal funnel and cap (this sauce has texture to it so a shaker top or orifice reducer… yes, they are called that… is not needed.)
  19. Store in fridge and use within 6-12 months. (There is a TON of info out there on how long hot sauces last in your fridge… some places say 3-5 years, some say 6 months. We have sauce in our fridge that is 12+ months and have had no issue BUT I will say, to err on the side of caution and consume/gift with the instructions of doing it within a year. This has NO PRESERVATIVES and is not commercially produced. Meaning: BETTER FLAVOR, but it will break down and freshness will wane as it ages. Counter point: my Habanero Carbanero Fresno Peach hot sauce – Clarissa On the Float – is still wrecking burritos a year and a half later… LOL

It might seem like a pain to cook outside, it really isn’t if you have the space to do it.

It also might seem insane to grow a pepper that you only need 1 -2 of to make a year’s worth of hot sauce – it isn’t. (You can also dehydrate, roast, smoke and or dry and grind these babies for future uses as well…. like a bbq sauce or Reaper Salt.)

All that said, super hots (and their sauces) are an acquired taste. This sauce is sweet, tangy, bright and has a FAST burning heat that hits at the back of the throat, but because we use only 2 of them in this sauce, the burn fades and you have just a really tasty hot sauce.

Now to figure out a name… contest running on Social Media now. If you want to chime in, fill out the poll below!

Do you like hot sauce? What’s your tolerance for hot peppers? Let me know below (and if you’d like more recipes like this!)

Enjoy!

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