About 2 1/2 years ago for the holidays a good family friend sent along a can with a small seed in it all ready for water. That was before I knew much of anything about super hot peppers, at least other than videos I had watched of people eating super hot peppers and the aftermath of that decision. The videos had instilled in me one primary thought: Stay away, way away. Now, with the arrival of that small seed I had the start for one of those super hot peppers.
The moment I decided to water the seed – and really, because Francis was like a 3rd grandfather to me I couldn’t not try to grow it, was when I took one step too many over the cliff and started to slide off. The slide was slow at first; I likely still had time to grab onto something to stop. Ghost pepper plants, at least mine, are very slow to grow. It took 14 months before the first blossom formed. Granted, some of that time the plant spent in less-than-ideal conditions, but still, more than 18 months before the first pepper ripened. I remember wondering whether just touching the pepper was dangerous. I had played with enough hot peppers then rubbed an eye that I did not want to experience that with a hotter pepper. The plant is producing so many peppers now that it is a year older that I am again a bit overwhelmed by them all.
Once the peppers started ripening the next logical question was: How to use them. Our expectation was that the peppers would be just a little cooler than lava (or a Phoenix summer, which is about the same temperature most years). We started with using whole peppers in a salsa and then removing the ghost pepper after cooking. That method add surprisingly little heat. Then we started chopping small ghost peppers and adding them after a further wiz in the blender to ensure we did not get a good chunk of pepper in a bite. Now, after much experimentation, it is our go-to chili for adding extra spice to the chutneys, salsas, and hot sauces. It is the only pepper we have found to cut through the sweetness of the peach chutney or roasted tomatillo salsa verde. We also add a couple to the hot sauce to add just a bit more kick to the fruity habaneros.
This past winter a generous reader let me know that in Costa Rica they add papaya to a hot sauce similar to the hot pepper hot sauce. Adding fruit, especially papaya, to a hot sauce was not something I had contemplated. It has taken until a few weeks ago for the habanero peppers and ghost peppers to ripen to allow me to experiment with different versions of the basic recipe. The recipe below is named for Francis who sent us down the super hot pepper path. Be forewarned, this is hot. It is also fruity and tasty. It adds a great punch to tacos, eggs, and on anything else a hot sauce is appropriate (as if there is anything that isn’t appropriate). If you don’t have fresh ghost peppers or don’t want to deal with that level of heat, feel free to omit them. We have also tried this sauce with mango and it tastes great too.
FRANCIS’S GHOST PEPPER HOT SAUCE
6 Ripe Ghost Peppers, seeded, deveined, and diced (WEAR GLOVES)
26 Ripe Habanero Peppers, seeded, deveined, and diced
4 Garlic Cloves, roasted
2 Medium Carrots, cleaned and grated or diced
1/2 Small Papaya (about 1 cup), seeded and peel removed, Chopped
1 Medium-Large Onion, diced
2 Cups Cider Vinegar
1/4 Cup Fresh Lime Juice
3/4 Cup Water
Wear Food Service Gloves for preparation and clean-up!
Seed and remove the veins from the ghost peppers and habanero peppers then chop the peppers and place in medium pot.
Roast the garlic cloves with skin on in a hot skillet until slightly blackened. Let cool. Remove skin and put in pot with peppers.
Clean carrots and remove tops, peel if desired. Then grate or dice. Put in pot with ingredients above.
Dice onion and add to pot.
Add vinegar and water to pot.
Cook everything about 20 minutes at a simmer. You want everything soft.
Slice papaya in half. Remove seeds. Scoop out flesh. Keep on the side until last 10 minutes of cooking all above.
Let everything in pot cool awhile.
Add lime juice to blender. When all the other ingredients are cool, add to blender. Cover and blend 10 minutes or so until liquified. Do not stick your face over the blender while blending or adding mixture to the blender. Just the fumes are potent.