Trinidad Homemade Pepper Sauce

13.10.15 | Recipe by Renz
A fiery flavorful sauce that is used to add "heat" to just about any food. A combination of hot peppers and flavorful seasoning. This "Trini pepper sauce" is a must-have in your pantry.

  
A picture of finished pepper sauce with some of the ingredients on the side


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I come from a country that LOVES to eat spicy food. We use pepper in some form in just about everything. If you don't have some kind in your kitchen, then are you really cooking?

Homemade Pepper sauce is usually not for the light-hearted. It is full of heat and flavor. If you are like me and don't really like very very hot food, then you would use this sparingly.

But if you happen to be like my Dad, on the other hand, and must lace your food with pepper sauce regardless of how hot the food already is, then surely this Trini pepper sauce recipe from scratch is a condiment you want to have.

This specific, very simple recipe, doesn't just focus on bringing the heat but also provides a depth of flavor.

So I'm sharing my Dad's recipe for Trini pepper sauce. Get ready to sprinkle this excellent sauce over a hot plate of pelau.

  

What's in this hot sauce


I cannot think of a dish we create where we do not use some form of pepper.  We use a little pepper to season up just about anything. Recipes are usually passed down through generations and some people actually don't share theirs.  It is an integral part of our cooking scheme.

It can be made with a variety of peppers which is what makes the pepper sauce so hot. It can range from very hot to mildly hot. So you can use Scotch bonnet peppers, ghost pepper, scorpion pepper, congo pepper, or any of the hottest peppers.

If you want to really see which peppers best suit you, check out this list of the world's hottest pepper, and its Scoville heat unit (level of spiciness).

But it's not just all about the heat, but it must also have a good balance of flavor to it.

Ingredients for pepper sauce

  
Picture of all the ingredients for the pepper sauce


This is not just pepper. To get that delicious flavor we need to use some other spices to help amp it up. The list includes:

  • Hot peppers (red, green, and yellow if possible) - scotch bonnet being the most commonly used one.
  • Cloves - gives an addition of a nice earthy flavor
  • Garlic
  • Curry powder
  • Culantro leaves
  • Black pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Salt
  • Mustard powder - gives it a nice slight mustard undertone
  • White vinegar
Equipment

Food processor or blender
Bottles

How to make this Trini pepper sauce


It is important for me to mention here that it is best to use gloves for this process for your safety. A simple eye rub can be horrible with pepper on your hands.

Wash your peppers, remove any debris and inspect to make sure there are no bad ones.

You can choose to use all of the pepper or remove the seeds and/or membranes. See my notes section for the explanation on why.

Combine the peppers with garlic and the culantro.

Start with adding in about 4 ounces of the vinegar along with the other seasonings of curry, black pepper, onion salt, and mustard powder.

Combine these to the consistency you want, adding more vinegar in bits to make it smoother.

Once you have gotten it to the consistency that you like pour the mixture into a saucepan and bring it to a boil.

Immediately remove from heat and leave to cool.

Substitutions


There are no set ingredients for this sauce. It varies based on a family recipe. This is a base recipe and you can make adjustments with additions to enhance the bold flavors.

I have seen additions of:

  • Fresh fruits, to give it a sweet taste like pineapple or mango.
  • Ginger, to add some tanginess.
  • Sugar, which somehow enhances the heat of the peppers. so it makes it hotter.


What to use pepper sauce on


This hot sauce can be used on anything you eat that you want to add some additional delicious flavor explosion too.

It can be used in soups and stews. I always had a tablespoon or so to my corn soup.

You can use it as a topper for doubles along with some cucumber chutney.

Storage


It is best to store this in an air-tight bottle that has been sterilized.

There is enough vinegar in this hot pepper sauce that you can store in a cool area and it not spoil.

You can also refrigerate if you want. This can be refrigerated in an airtight bottle for a year.

For longer-lasting life, do not use a dirty spoon and dip it into the bottle. In fact, it is best practice to pour into the spoon. We also tend to shake from the bottle straight into the pot. Personal experience, sometimes a shake turns into too much of a shake so be careful.

  
Picture of combined Trinidad pepper sauce.


Tips


  • Using fresh ingredients is important. It would give you the best flavor. IF you wait and your batch of peppers start to go bad, it will affect the quality

  • If you want your sauce to be hot, but not fiery, do not use the seeds and the membranes. Cut peppers and take seeds out. The heat really lives there, so removing them would help

  • Handle scotch bonnets with gloves. You do NOT want to touch these then touch your face (eyes) or anything else. Remove the gloves before going touching other things.

  • Scotch bonnets come in red, green, or yellow. Your sauce will be the color of whatever colors are available to you. You can mix colors or use one color. People like to use yellow and add yellow color to help enhance it.

  • When opening blender/processor with first blend, open cover for a little and let some air pass in before putting face close to the jar.

  • Try not to make this sauce in a small confined area. It is pungent


And if you want to try some other Caribbean cooking essentials:












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