Hot sauce connoisseurs will love this fiery sauce with the sweet and fruity underbelly.
A lot of people are hot sauce freaks. I’m one of them.
Most of our friends don’t understand our usually harmless obsession is not just about the heat. Sure, hot is good. It’s exciting and addicting. However, I believe many of us really enjoy the place where hot and flavor meet. Something is hot and has an interesting flavor? That’s just cool!
I developed this sauce because I wanted to use foraged plants. Many wild edibles are spicy and have a certain level of heat. However, they just can’t compete with domestic peppers. That’s one of the reasons I became a gardener!
Wild ramps can add another level of flavor and complexity to a hot sauce. I love ramps. They have a pronounced “bite” of heat to them, in the same way as raw garlic or raw hot onion. I wanted to use ramps as the foundation of this sauce, upon which I’d build the heat and complimentary flavors. I also wanted this sauce to be one you could reach for an a daily basis, like Tabasco or Sriracha, but with more intensity and flavor.
I’ve always liked hot sauces with a flavor profile combining heat, spiciness, and the natural sweetness of fruit. I also wanted a hot sauce where the burn came and went pretty quickly, while the pungency from the ramps and the sweetness lingered. I settled on habanero, thai, and serrano peppers to compliment the ramps for heat and punch. I selected, mango and papaya to add a natural fruit sweetness.
A few weeks of experiments led to some good results. I had a pungent, hot, spicy, sweet, fruity sauce I was happy with. I thought it was great, but then I spied something I felt could infuse the sauce with a hint of smokiness: cherry whiskey. I knew the cherry whiskey would be perfect, because I had successfully preserved ramps in whiskey and vodka before, with interesting results.
I’m very happy with this sauce, and we’ve even thought about producing it commercially. For now, it’s yours for the making. Aside from the joy of consuming this sauce, you will experience the joy of getting out into the woods to harvest a fantastic wild vegetable. You’ll wow your hunting or fishing buddies when you bring a bottle to camp with the backstory about foraging for the main ingredient.
Woodsman’s Hot Sauce
- 1 heaping cup chopped wild ramp bulbs
- 1 cup (about 12) chopped serrano peppers
- 1 cup chopped habanero peppers
- 1-2 tbsp diced Thai peppers
- 1 med. red onion, chopped
- 1 cup chopped carrot
- 1 cup chopped red or orange sweet pepper
- 2 fat thumb-size pieces raw ginger, chopped
- 1 tsp coriander seed
- 1 tbsp mustard seed
- 1 ½ cup white vinegar
- 1 ½ cup water
- 1 ½ cup cherry whiskey (or regular whiskey or brandy)
- ½ cup real maple syrup
- 1-2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 big mango, peeled, core removed, chopped
- 1 large papaya, peeled, seeded, chopped
- sea salt
- Add all ingredients to a sauce pan, except the lemon juice, mango, and papaya. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low boil for about 10-15 minutes. The liquid should be reduced by a third to a half.
- Remove pot from stove and allow to cool. While waiting to cool, prep the mango and papaya. Sterilize some small mason jars or bottles and lids.
- Once the contents have cooled. Work in batches adding equal amounts of the sauce pot ingredients and the papaya and mango to a food processor and liquify.
- Add lemon juice, and salt to taste.
- If you want a thinner sauce, simply strain the puree through a strainer, working it with a rubber spatula.
- Store in sterilized jars or bottles.
This sauce also makes a fantastic wing marinade and sauce.