Gettin’ Hot Saucy

I don’t know if you remember last summer but if you were living anywhere near Toronto, you will recall that it was H-O-T. I’m talkin’ popsicles for breakfast hot. Of course, this was also the first year that we made a real effort at growing an edible garden in our tiny city backyard and if you’ve gardened even a tiny bit, you will know that super heat and plants don’t mix. The one crop that did do insanely well were the hot peppers with jalapenos and chillies that produced straight through until October. Most of our tomatoes made it through as well which meant I could experiment with hot sauce. I fermented a few batches but the biggest hit by far was a stove-top hot sauce. Bonus: these cute hot sauces made great Christmas gifts!

Hot tip (Sorry for the pun – I had to!): Wear gloves when you touch hot peppers and seeds. Seriously. Don’t be a hero. You will completely regret getting any of that pepper goodness on your skin.

Recipe adapted from this book


  • Jars, snap lids and rings
  • Canner with a lid
  • Tongs
  • Wide mouth funnel
  • Ladle
  • Food mill


  • 3 lbs roma tomatoes – quartered
  • 1.5 cups hot chilli red peppers, chopped (Remove some but not all of the seeds – the more seeds you keep, the hotter your sauce will be.)
  • 4 cups distilled white vinegar (divided)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp pickling spices (I used the Bernardin version)


  • Prepare jars and lids in a water bath. If you’re new to canning, I suggest reading up on the process or checking out a demo video like this one before you get started – it’s nice to have an overview of the full process before you get started. 
  • Combine, tomatoes, peppers and 2 cups of vinegar in a big stainless steel pot.
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring every so often until everything is tender.
  • Let the mixture cool and then run it all through a food mill a few times to get a nice, smooth sauce. Note: Some people keep the peels and seeds that are pushed aside by the mill and use them as a bruschetta topping.
  • Return the sauce to your pot and add the pickling spices in a spice bag or a tea ball.
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the mixture reaches the texture you want – about 40 minutes but this will depend on your stove.
  • Remove your jars from the canner and ladle the hot sauce into each jar one by one using the funnel to keep from getting sauce on the rim of your jars. Make sure you leave at least 1/4 “ headspace and remove any air bubbles.
  • Wipe each jar rim to ensure a good seal and then add lids and rings.
  • Place jars in the hot water bath, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1”.
  • Process for 15 min.
  • Remove jars and let cool overnight before storing.

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