According to the Scoville Heat Scale pequin (also spelled piquin) chile peppers are right up there with Tabasco and Cayenne pepper…30,000 SHU to 60,000 SHU. Not as hot as a Scotch Bonnet or habañero pepper but plenty spicy and fruity for my tastes. Pequin chiles grow wild here in Puerto Rico and I have also picked them in the wild bush of Tonga in the South Pacific.
One of the advantages to this recipe is its replenishable without having to add more chilies or start from scratch again…at least a couple times…all that is needed to fill up the bottle again is more brine and time.
Any size glass bottle or jar will work depending upon how many chilies you have. If a gallon jar is used, strain the sauce through a fine-mesh and fill smaller bottles for table use. If you can’t find fresh pequin chilies in local markets, there are dried pequin chilies available in most Latin markets or check out chilepequin.com for seeds and all the instructions to grow your own pequins. They also have several good salsa recipes.
Use this sauce like Tabasco. It adds a little sparkle to just about any savory dish.
Ingredients for 1 pint bottle:
- 2/3 cup fresh pequin chilies, red and green, stems removed
- 3 sprigs of fresh oregano
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed slightly
- juice of 2 limes
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp sea salt
- enough white vinegar to fill bottle
- Sterilize a pint bottle in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain.
- While still hot, add chilies, oregano, garlic and lime juice to the bottle. With a wooden spoon handle, crush the chilies slightly.
- To make the brine: In a small saucepan heat the water, sea salt, and vinegar to simmering. Stir to dissolve salt.
- Pour brine over chilies. Cap or seal. Let set for 7 days. Refrigerate.
- For large batches, water-bath all bottles in boiling water for 15 minutes. Water level must be 1-inch above bottle tops. Remove from bath to draft-free area to cool. Check that tops are sealed and store in cool, dark pantry for 1 year or longer. Refrigerate after opening.
- When sauce loses piquancy its time to start another batch or open another bottle. When a bottle runs low on sauce but the chilies are still pleasantly piquant, just add more brine.