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Get Saucy!

If you grow or buy chillies and are wondering what to do with them, look no further. Below is a fairly simple recipe to make a sauce, with a few pretty pics. It is not the exact recipe that I use now, but it is a good start and one that you can experiment with to get your perfect sauce.

When you make a batch, you will normally end up with quite a lot of sauce so preservation is important, you do not want to waste a single drop of it! The easiest way is to freeze it of course, but if you want to have vacuum sealed jars, that will last for months/years at room temperature, then sterilisation is the key. You can re-use jars from a supermarket or buy some if you want them to look uniform and  cute.

OK, this is what you need, all measured in volume rather than weight to make it easier:

500 ml fresh chillies
500 ml chopped onions
1 glug neutral tasting oil (not olive for instance)
4 tbsp minced/chopped FRESH ginger (not powdered)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tspn salt
1 tin chopped tomatoes

You can use any variety of chilli, or a mixture. Chop them roughly (warning - wear rubber gloves when chopping chilles, your delicate parts will thank you later).
Do not remove the seeds, the surrounding area of the seeds is where most of the heat is.

Chop the onions and fry them gently until they caramelise:

Then add the chillies and the ginger. Only fry for a short time as the chillies start releasing their heat and you don't want it all to escape. You will find yourself choking like crazy at this point.

Then add the tinned tomatoes, salt and sugar. Put the lid on the pot and just let it simmer away for about half an hour.

I then use a stick blender to puree everything first, but you may prefer the 'rustic' version.

The sauce is now done. You can now divide it into portions and freeze it.


If you want to keep the sauce in jars, this is where the hassle starts. This is without doubt, a real faff, but absolutely essential for preservation. Wash the jars, then put them on a baking tray in the oven at around 130° C for at least 10 minutes. This kills off any bacteria and the jars are hot (this is also important).

The lids should be put into a bowl of boiling water for about 10 minutes too. I have tried putting them in the oven with the jars but this hardens the rubber seal on the lid and ruins it.

The golden rule of jarring is 'hot into hot'. Never put hot sauce into a cold jar or vice-versa. This will cause the glass to shatter. Get yourself organised here as you need to get it all done as quickly as possible before everything cools down. I use a wide base jam funnel to cleanly scoop the sauce into the jar, then screw the lid on immediately. Remember, everything is still pretty hot so be careful not to burn yourself.

Once the jars are full just leave them to cool. You will see the lid contract as this happens and, if you use those fancy 'clicky' lids, you will hear a very satisfying click as the sauce-preserving vacuum is reached.


That's pretty much it. As you see, the hardest bit is jarring so if you are happy to just freeze it, then it makes the job a lot easier.


You can experiment with many other ingredients. Fruit seems to be popular at the moment: grapefruit, mango or raspberries for example. I used to also add mint leaves to mine, that gives a nice little after taste too.


Let me know how you all get on, and how you experimented and improvised.


Spread the sauce!



© Sean Fretwell 2024. All images on this site were made by me and belong to me, do not use them without my permission.