1 cup rice, white or cider vinegar
1 1/2 cup water
6 cloves garlic
1/2 cup shredded carrot ( 1 medium)
1/2 small onion small chopped
12-16 medium orange habaneros
2 tsp salt
1 tsp light brown sugar

basic habanero hot sauce

baby red pepper co. 2/4/16
A basic habanero hot sauce using the traditional vinegar-carrot-onion menage a trois. You can substitute any vinegar, but cider is the usual suspect. The point of this recipe is to provide a bare bones starting point. You can riff  on this by substituting in a few of the ingredients below. 
  • flavored balsamic vinegar
  • sugar alternatives: turbinado, demerara, pico
  • spice additions: cumin, coriander, turmeric, thyme, garlic, allspice, nutmeg, peppercorns
  • smoked peppers, chipotles in sauce
  • flavored molasses
This was the first hot sauce The Employee made back  in 1994. 
Bottling your sauce
Unless you are going to boil for 10 minutes and bottle at a minimum 185 F temperature, inverting the bottle to sterilize the cap for minimum ten minutes... we do not warrant shelf stability at room temperature. Alternatively, hot water bath canning or pasteurization are entirely appropriate.
As for ph, ph test strips are appropriate for your first batches, just ensure you adjust ph with vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice and/or citric acid to ph 4.0 or below. Despite what preservation nazis say, the FDA does accept colormetric testing via ph test strips as acceptable practice if the acidified food equilibrium is below a ph of 4.0 and low acid ingedients are below a certain percent by weight. 21CFR114.90
Two caveats:
1. You must be confident you are reading color accurately with fresh test strips through the color of the solution.
2. We do not advocate colormetric ph testing for other than casual home production a proper procedure, even at 4.0 or below. Moreover, if you intend to start a small cottage business, understand that many states limit the types of products that can be sold under cottage food laws and which are exempted from ph and water mobility testing. Hot sauces do not apply under most States' cottage food regulations, they can be considered acidified foods, quite different from high acid foods.
As you move closer to the dark side, you will want to invest in a cheap ph meter, as well as spend some time understanding the need for salt and sugar in your recipes as they relate to food safety (water mobility or aw ).
Finally, 21CFR114.90 provides an excellent walkthrough on preparing a sample for accurate reading... this will not be much of an issue with a sauce where you have blended down to a pourable thickness with tiny particulates,  (think fine mince) but it is worth the read for clarification.
Triple point calibration ph meters are available for less than $75 plus cleaning and calibration solutions. The Milwaukee MW 101 is a fine general purpose meter.
  1. Roast garlic in an oven until softened.
  2. Simmer onion and carrots in one and a half cups of water until soft.
  3.  Strain carrots and onions, reserving liquid.
  4.  Add all ingedients to a blender and puree thoroughly.
  5.  Add everything to a pot along with enough reserved water to reach desired consistency plus a little thinner.
  6. Bring to a simmer for ten minutes then to a boil for 5 minutes.
  7. Optional: prior to boiling, but after simmer, sieve the liquid by forcing it through a fine mesh strainer with a rubber spatula. Bring to a boil for five minutes prior to bottling.
  8. Pour into hot sauce bottles, immediately cap with clean screw tops and invert the bottle to allow the liquid to sterilize the inside of the cap. 5 oz. "whoozy" hot sauce bottles are the perferred bottles.
The sealed bottles will keep for up to 6 months.  Refrigerate after opening.
 You may substitute an equal qty. of dried/smoked habaneros. In this case, rehydrate the peppers for twenty minutes in the reserved water from the onion and carrot, then blend everything.
As you begin to create your own sauces, baby red pepper co can supply you with 5 or 8 oz. bottles, closures and ingredients to get you blending. Feel free to chat up The Employee for advice and support. Check out our products on the Products page.