Leftover Cayenne and Arbol Chile Peppers = 50,000 Scoville Unit Hot Sauce

Every now and then I mention my littel vegetable garden strip out back near the pool beneath the cherry tree and shadowed by the neighbour’s Beech. One of the reasons this blog is called Tomatilla! is because the tomatillas love this little strip of land. I no longer plant them any more they self seed/sow through fruit that fall and rot and I just thin them out in the spring to four plants or so. Same with the arugula. But in and around I grow some tomatoes, some eggplant, some beans, and some squash every Summer. I also try for some peppers every year and every year until now I failed badly. But this year I grew a pile of cayenne peppers and a couple of Chile d’Arbol. I used a couple here and there as Summer turned to Fall, but I ended up when I finally yanked out the Summer garden with a good 40 or so peppers. So I made some hot sauce. Some really hot sauce.

Research tells me that cayenne peppers peak out at around 50,000 Scoville units. These seem at least that hot to me. Touching my tongue to a spoon of the sauce almost results in pain.

But hot sauce isn’t just about pain. These are some TASTY peppers – and especially with the inclusion of the two much larger Chile d’Arbol. So I thought about what I wanted in a hot sauce. I like most kinds. I don’t have time to ferment in oak for a year. My other big time local ingredient that I have too much of is the infamous Meyer Lemon (the big tree still has literally over 100 lemons on it – and that is with us using them constantly). I like some salt in my hot sauce. I like some depth in my hot sauce. So here is what I did…

Owen’s 50-Karat Hot Sauce

30 dried cayenne chile peppers
2 dried Chile d’Arbol
(I dried mine over three or four weeks on the stovetop – just letting them get the gentle heat from cooking nearby)
The juice of two Meyer Lemons
Six cloves of garlic
One two-inch piece of ginger peeled and cut into chunks.
two and a half tablespoons kosher salt.

Put everything into a food processor/blender. Do not de-seed the peppers. Simply remove the stalks if any. Process until you can process no more (in my case that leaves little pieces of peper about the size of red chili flakes you buy in the store). You should have a thick but spoonable and pourable sauce that you better not get on anything sensitive. Put it in a jar you just ran through a dishwasher and store it in the fridge – it’ll keep a month or two.

I haven’t dared cook with mine yet – I have to wait until the kids aren’t going to be eating too.


  1. Sounds great, Owen. What made you think to put the ginger in it? I’m curious to hear what it does for the flavor/aroma.

  2. Perhaps I can answer part of this question. Ginger, like garlic and other species of root veggies is naturally pungent. Meaning that the temp required to make the scent go airborne is at or near room temp. What this does in sauces, soups and other dishes is:

    1. Spreads the flavor to the other parts of your tasting palette and,

    2. Brings your scent receptors into the tasting experiance. You may notice how wine folks will smell the wine right before it’s tasted.

    Hot Sauces and Seasonings are my domain. I am more than happy to share what I know about the ingredients.


    Thomas Burbridge
    E.VP, General Manager, Head Chef
    Paper Chef Enterant
    Taste The Heat, Inc.

  3. Greetings Owen,

    and I had you pegged as an Austrailian…

    My venture into peppers began in 1996 for medincinal reasons. A few things about these peppers.

    Caynne and Chile d’Arbol peppers, are members of the capsicum annuum family has a heat range from 30 to 60,000 heat scoville heat units. The actual heat of the pepper depends on how the plant is grown, when the pod was harvested and how the meal was prepared.

    The main difference between the two peppers is how they interact with the palette.

    Whether it was by luck or design (I tend to think the later after seeing the recipe), combining both peppers would make for a pretty good late cooking or mixing base sauce for a number of dishes.

    To put 50,000 Scoville heat units into perspective, your average jalapeno pepper ranges from 2,000 to 8,500 heat units.

    Tabasco brand ranges from 40,000 to 80,000 heat units.

    Owens recipe would appear to be hotter due to the variety of ingredients especially, the ginger.

  4. All has been said regarding the -heat units-, and ingredients, so I won’t go there 🙂

    Althou I prefer raw/fresh hot sauces for a variety of reasons, I do continue to experiment and develop new sauces from dry peppers. Since we have access to a great quality and different varieties of peppers, I prefer to dehidrate them in our kitchen.

    Have been planning to post on hot sauce,…but havent gotten around to cmplete the reaserch. Will do soon. Hugs!

  5. Wow! Thanks for the erudite comments Thomas. The ginger was added because I felt it would make the flavor richer, but know I also know WHY!

    I’m a big fan of hot sauces and have always wanted to start making my own – that’s one of the reasons I kept planting peppers…

    I did mix the two kinds deliberately, Thomas.

    I also realise that this isn’t as hot to my taste as I originally thought – I must have had a fair amount of oil on my hands from removing the stems from the dried peppers.

    I tried the sauce yesterday in a very late supper to perk up leftover turkey, leftover noodles and leftover roasted vegetables – I used a quarter teaspoon and stirred it into the noodles and it perked the whole meal up nicely.

  6. So if I understand you, Owen, it was more for depth of flavor than aroma, right? My sense is that the aromatic qualities of the ginger would be masked by all that pepper on the nose, but it might lighten up the sauce a bit.

    I just thought it was a really interesting choice, well done, sir!

  7. I have to admit I wasn’t thinking about the aroma so much as the taste – particularly the lingering part of the taste. I particularly like hot sauces with long/lingering heat. The aroma is clearly more chilli/garlic than anything else. The taste is very good – lots of depth – and the heat hits hard pretty quickly and stays around.

    By the way, all that stuff made about a cup and a half of a very thick sauce. I may thin it further with more lemon juice.

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