Monday 25 November 2013

Hot chilli sauce

One chilli that won't be coming in for the winter is the Hot Lemon plant, This has plenty of ripe fruits ready for harvesting, and I don't have the space inside for a plant that has had all its fruit harvested and which is not growing any more.

This variety always crops well in a pot on the patio, where it's sunny and reasonably sheltered. It produces large numbers of green fruit in late summer, which are astringent, but relatively mild early in the season. They ripen to yellow in autumn and the flavour matures, and heats up, always retaining those distinctive citrus notes. 

I wanted to make a chilli sauce with the 2013 harvest, one that I could store next to the bright red habanero sauce and my favourite green pepper sauce.

Nearly all the recipes I looked at contained tomatoes which bulk out the sauce and add a fruity taste. I’m happy with that, but I did want to preserve the bright sunshiney yellow of the lemon chillies. So I set off to try to find yellow tomatoes to use with my chillies, in England, in November. And found them almost immediately in Tesco.

Lemon chilli sauce

200g fresh Hot Lemon chillies
4-5 small yellow tomatoes
50-100g yellow pepper (1-2 mini peppers), optional
50ml white wine vinegar
30g caster sugar
1 dsp water

Put the vinegar and sugar into a pan. Give the chillies a quick wash, remove the stalks and chop roughly. Don’t worry about removing seeds. Add them to the pan. Chop the tomatoes and add them too. Cut the stalks off the pepper, if using, scoop out the seeds and the white membrane, chop roughly and add that too. Adding the sweet pepper helps to give the sauce a bit of body but too much of it makes it taste bitter, paradoxically.

Bring the ingredients in the pan to the boil, add the water, turn down the heat and simmer very gently, covered for about 15 minutes until the peppers and tomato have softened. Remove the lid and continue simmering for another 5 mins. Remove from the heat and leave to cool a little while you sterilise a jar.

Liquidise in a blender until smooth, then taste – carefully, it should have a kick like a mule. Add a teasp of vinegar or sugar if you think the sauce needs sharpening or sweetening. Push through a sieve to get rid of any seeds, pips or bits of tomato skin. Pour into the sterilised jar, seal and label.

Rather than throwing away the leftover seeds, and skins, try this idea from the community section of Nigella Lawson's website, posted by 'kenkrahn' on take the leftover bits of skins, seed and pith, and spread them out on greaseproof paper (the recipe says a cookie sheet). Once dry this mash can be pulverised in a spice grinder to make your own chilli powder. No wastage whatsoever.

These lemon chillies also make terrific chilli jelly (it's the last item in the post) - full of flavour, hot and zingy and fruity, all at the same time.

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