This is as old school as a recipe could possibly get on CaribbeanPot.com. Not just the recipe but the tool and technique I’ll be using. Before the days of blenders and food processors, we had food mills. Used to grind the dhal for making dhalpuri roti, preparing the dried fruits for making traditional black/rum cake, making homemade pepper sauces, grinding dried corn for making chilli bibbi and various other uses in the kitchen. Luckily my mom brought a mill for me many years back and with the abundance of fiery hot peppers in my garden last summer, I thought I’d dust out the Mr. mill and share this recipe with you all. Hopefully I’ll give you a glimpse into a glorious past.. something we seem to be losing touch with.
Hot Peppers (about 4-6 cups chopped)
6 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup white vinegar
Note: As mentioned this past summer I had an excellent crop of Scotch Bonnet, Habanero, Chocolate Scotch Bonnet and Trinidad Moruga Scorpions… all deadly peppers. But you can use any 1 or do a mix as I did. Traditionally in the Caribbean we would use Scotch Bonnet peppers for this recipe.
IMPORTANT: Be mindful that these peppers are extremely hot and the oils can cause serious irritation (and pain). Do wear gloves and wash your hands immediately after with soap and water. Do not touch any sensitive areas after handling these peppers.
Wash the peppers and trim off the stems and give the peppers a rough chop. For a fiery peppersauce leave the seeds, if not do remove them if you wish to tame things down. Give the cilantro (traditionally in the Caribbean you’d use Chadon beni) and garlic a rough chop as well.
Now it’s time to set up the mill on a sturdy work bench (I used the desk in our kitchen). Assemble the mill, then adjust the settings at the back (2 screw-like things) to control the texture of the ground pepper. Once you start turning the handle with the peppers in the catchment area you’ll be able to better determine the coarseness you want. When clamping down the mill to your work surface I would recommend using a piece of cloth or paper towels to protect the area from getting damaged as you tighten it.
Place a deep bowl under the area where the ground peppers will fall, then start adding a mixture of the garlic, peppers and chopped cilantro into the mill and start cranking. Keep a wooden spoon handy as you may have to press down on everything for it to work through the mill. (watch the video below).
Remember this is when you can adjust the coarseness.. so adjust accordingly.
I would even recommend using safety goggles when cranking and pushing down on the peppers in the event you get hit in the eye with any of the juices. To finish up all you have to do is mix in the vinegar, salt and lime (or lemon) juice and mix well with the ground peppers.
This recipe is as traditional and basic as you can get when it comes to peppersauce in the Caribbean. You can now get creative and add other ingredients like papaya (green), bitter melon, carrots and other herbs. Since we used vinegar this pepper sauce can remain on your kitchen counter as the vinegar will act as a preservative. For a longer shelf life you can certainly keep it in the fridge, but I’ve noticed that when you leave hot sauces in the fridge it somehow tames the heat factor! Store in a clean glass container.
Back in the day I remember my Uncle B (I spoke about him in my cookbook) would handle all the peppers with his bare hands and he’d be cool with it. My man hand hands of steel.. and everyone sought his help when they were making peppersauce!