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Caribbean Habanero Salsa

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    Posted: 16 October 2010 at 23:25
"...There are many recipes for chili sauces - the common ingredient being chili peppers. A group of chemicals called capsaicinoids are responsible for the heat in chile peppers. The peppers are infused in anything from vinegar, oil, water, beer and alcohol to fruits and vegetable pulp.
West Indies type hot pepper sauces, as they are most commonly known there, feature heavily in Caribbean cuisine. Like American-style sauces, they are made from chili peppers and vinegar, with fruits and vegetables added for extra flavor. The most common peppers used are habanero and scotch bonnet, the latter being the most common in Jamaica. Both are very hot peppers, making for strong sauces (e.g. Capt'n Sleepy's Quintessential Habanero, or Matouk's). Over the years each island developed its own distinctive recipes, and home-made sauces are still common. ..."
Belize has a fantastic hot pepper sauce based on Habaneros called Melinda's. It has been around since the early 1990's and I fell in love with it the first time I tasted it. It has a wonderful citrus-fruit, caribbean flavour all of its own.
Had a great crop of Habanero and Tabasco peppers this year so no better reason than to make a Caribbean Style Habanero Salsa....
My Calypso Caribbean salsa is made up of papaya, mango, orange, lime, carrot, onion, garlic, cilantro, spring onion, and habanero peppers. These are mixed with red wine vinegar and salt to add body and flavor.
The spring onions, cilantro, parsley, and some of the white onions did not get processed in the cuisinart. Their larger peices will contribute to a nice chunky thick salsa. I chopped them up and put them in the pot-
Got everything else prepped for the processing. I added a bunch of ripe red Tabasco peppers at the last minute, they are on top of more Habaneros on the left. In the back bowl are the papaya, oranges and mangos.
The limes were squeezed into juice thanks to Mrs Rivet's help and then poured into the mix to help it along-
It's amazing how much the carrots (and fruit) tempered the flaming heat of the peppers. The raw salsa was still very hot, but nothing compared to the peppers alone. The cooking it will go through during the processing will do a lot to mellow out the heat. But before that, we filled 32 half-pint jars~
Into the pressure canner they went and are cooling right now. More pics of the finished product tomorrow, as well as the jars and more evaluations of the salsa itself. Looks like it is going to be another big success.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 October 2010 at 03:21
Wow that sounds good! An little sweet, a little hot?
Looking forward to hearing your final opinion on it John.
Go with your food!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 October 2010 at 08:31

everything from the ingredients as they go in, to the finished product, looks beautiful so far. really liking the idea behind this and looking forward to seeing how it turns out!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 October 2010 at 11:59
Well thanks guys! This sure was an exciting change from the more traditional tomato-based salsa. I forgot to add in yesterday's post, that it was amazing how much "body" the addition of salt made to the mixture. The vinegar helped thin it out....the pureed carrots are amazingly thick. I tasted the sauce as it went along and the searing heat overpowered most everything else, though the sweetness of the papaya and mango did come through. After adding straight iodized table salt, the change was surprising. It was as if the brightness of the heat had been turned down and allowed the other flavours to come through. As well, it made the sauce "richer" in the mouth....I'm guessing by dulling some of the heat.
Anyway, I would have thought the cooking during the canning stage would have darkened the salsa like tomato ones do. Nope, it actually brightened up a bit, I'm sure mostly due to the mago and papaya. Here they are cooling down-
Close up you can see how brightly colored it is. Knowing full well the heat level (this is definitely a chili-head's salsa...not for the timid nor those of sensitive palate) I packed them in half-pint jars instead of pints. I can't imagine eating pints at a time like I do with the other ones!
Opened a jar and put it into this white dish to show off the color. I think it looks real pretty and the chunky onions and leaves of parsley and cilantro really came though well.
This Salsa Calypso is a perfect match for Aztecs! The toasted corn flavour sure goes well with the heat. You can see the thickness and chunkiness better in this image. It sites well on the chip and has enough thickness to it to make a delciious mouthfull. The cooking during canning did exactly what I envisioned. It brought down the heat level several notches and allowed the fruits and carrot flavours to rise up and match it. This turned out to be a perfectly balanced salsa, neither heat nor flavour overpowering the other. The papaya and mango really added a delicious mellowness to the snappiness of the carrot and orange....surely living up the the "Calypso" name.
The ripened orange habaneros really made the salsa what it is....their citrusy, orangy flavour impacting the overall taste much more than a plain green habanero ever could. Glad I had the patience to wait till now when they turned....because I've been dying to make this idea of mine since they first started fruiting this early summer!
My guess that taking this to the next level would be to use it as a sort of Chimichurri sauce to barbecued flank steaks "faldas", or spooned as a topping to enchiladas. Without a doubt, this would be perfect with any fish on the grill.....a very Caribbean meal. That will be for some other time though, today it's just aztecs, the salsa and NFL football!
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