Thursday, August 2, 2012

Scotch Bonnet (or Habanero) Hot Salsa

My husband discovered scotch bonnet peppers when his love of Reggae music lead him to investigate Jamaican food so that I could cook it for him. We discovered that to make truly authentic Jamaican jerk we needed to have scotch bonnet peppers, which are as hot as habanero peppers but tangier.

We have never found scotch bonnet peppers for sale, so we ordered seeds online to see if they would grow well in Minnesota and as it turns out they have been very prolific every year. On the seed packet it says they should ripen to red, but ours always stay orange which makes for a very unique colored salsa. However, if you don't want to grow scotch bonnet peppers you can use habanero peppers and replace the apple cider vinegar in this recipe with distilled white vinegar to get a bit of the tang that habaneros lack. Later I'll post some jerk recipes, but I happen to be making this (my favorite) salsa today.

1/2 c. apple cider vinegar (or distilled white vinegar if you are using habanero peppers)
Juice of 1 lime, about 3-4 Tbsp.
3 tsp. agave nectar (I don't measure, I just do 3 squeezes of the bottle that look to be about 1 tsp. each)
3 large or 4 medium tomatoes, cores removed and roughly chopped (don't bother peeling them)
3-5 scotch bonnet or habanero peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
1 white onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 c. fresh cilantro (just tear off a big handful)
1 tsp. sea salt

1) Place all of the salsa ingredients into a blender and blend until chunky-smooth (more smooth than chunky but not totally pureed).
2) Pour the salsa into a large enough sauce pan so that you have at least 2 inches of space at the top of the pot because it foams as it begins to boil and it could boil over if your pot is too full.

3) Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a high-simmer. You want steam constantly coming off of the salsa so that you know it is evaporating and thickening.

4) Lightly boil the salsa for between 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, depending on how thick you want it. This is something you can have going on in the background without paying too much attention to it. Stir the salsa occasionally to make sure it doesn't burn at the bottom of the pot.

5) Once the salsa reaches a consistency you like, remove it from the heat and let it cool and then transfer to mason jars or a glass container and refrigerate. This keeps quite a long time (at least a couple of weeks) in the fridge but it's never stayed in ours long enough to know how long it would take to go bad.

The volume of salsa will depend on how big your tomatoes were and how long you boiled it. I usually end up with about 3 cups of salsa.


  1. Hi Sarah,

    I came across your recipe a few weeks ago and this past weekend got around to trying it out myself. I made a double batch and am pleased to say that, with the help of some friends and my officemates, it's already close to finished. It was clearly a big hit.

    For my next batch I plan to see if I can infuse some coffee flavor.

    Thanks for posting!