Field Notes

Weekend Project: Pumpkin Habanero Hot Sauce

Weekend Project: Pumpkin Habanero Hot Sauce

With the abundance of hot sauce that’s now available in grocery stores, there’s certainly no pressing need to make it yourself. But the process of cooking up batches of hot sauce is one of our favorite weekend projects—it’s the best way to control the flavor and heat of this essential condiment, and our preferred vehicle for trying out new chilies. Plus, this time of year, we load up on our batches to give away hot sauce as gifts.

For all of these reasons, we designed the Hot Sauce Kit, with all of the tools you need to become a master of making your own chili condiments. While the kit comes with two different chili blends to start out your sauce-making adventures, we’ve used the tools to make endless hot sauce varieties (so many, in fact, we even made a book about them.

Today we’re sharing an alternate version, inspired by the seasons and perfect for your Thanksgiving table: pumpkin habanero hot sauce.

Pumpkin Habanero Hot Sauce

Makes about 5 cups

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 1 small (2 pound) pie pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 fresh habanero chilies, chopped
  • 8 dried guajillo chilies, stems removed
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • Salt

 Cut a medium square of cheesecloth and place the cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorn, and star anise pod in the center. Secure the bundle by tying the ends together or tying it with baker’s twine. Set aside.

Prepare the pumpkin: carefully cut out the stem, then slice the pumpkin in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and discard. Save 1 half of the pumpkin for another use. Remove the skin of the other pumpkin half and cut the flesh into roughly 1-inch cubes.

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, habaneros, guajillos and the pumpkin and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and softened, about 6 minutes. Add the vinegar, cider and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the spice sachet. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the sachet and transfer the contents of the Dutch oven to a blender. Starting on low speed (with the top cracked so the steam can escape), carefully blend the mixture until it is a puree.

Season with salt to taste, then strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. Let cool completely. Use a funnel to divide the mixture between small glass bottles, and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.