Chile peppers are everywhere. My parents’ garden in the warm air smells like vaporized salsa. My mom and dad usually bypass needing to can or preserve any of the garden’s overproduction simply by making huge batches of salsa … every day.

This year, my dad has the output dialed up from last year’s jalapeño batch by including habanero peppers in the mix. The habaneros are smoking hot, so in turn, pepper consumption has slowed down a bit compared to last year’s jalapeño extravaganza. When I came to visit recently, I was quickly brought into the kitchen to see over a hundred of these orange beauties. I’d brought along 48 empty five-ounce bottles, so I knew what had to be done! We spent the whole day making three different batches of hot sauce. I wanted to play around with some Caribbean styles, so we made two very different types: mango habanero, and one that is a highly concentrated jerk sauce. The third sauce we made was a Yucatán style.

The garden is fenced in with chicken wire because deer love eating peppers!

Counted: 136 peppers!

Pepper prep in my family’s kitchen.

No measurements, just free-form amounts of mango, habanero peppers, onion, white vinegar, ginger, garlic, cumin, curry powder, and cinnamon.

Sterilizing bottles for hot sauce storage.

Hot water bath for the sterilized bottles.

Full day’s work.

Yucatán Hot Sauce
15 habanero peppers, stems removed
1 cup lime juice
1/2 cup orange juice
3 medium carrots, chopped, boiled until soft
6 garlic cloves, boiled until soft
1 teaspoon sea salt

Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until completely smooth.

Photos by Chris Rochelle

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