Growing up in Massachusetts and Rhode Island meant “hots” on our subs (sandwiches). After moving to Connecticut for college I quickly realize that this was strictly a local MA/RI thing. I have no idea why, because it’s incredible. I have heard people in other parts of the country frefer to hot dogs as “hots” before, but I’ve never found the delicious relish that is called the same name in my home stomping grounds. “Hots”, as it is referred, is hot pepper relish. It is spicy and sweet at the same time and comes in a variety of colors. Due to lack of finding this in my new state, I’m spreading the love (no pun intended). It’s not an exact recipe because it is made with peppers on hand, but it’s a damn good nod to the original.
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After harvest (and sometimes during), we are inundated with produce. We end up with so much that if we don’t find a way to use it or can it, a lot can go to waste. This recipe was born out of necessity for use of peppers. Every year I plant peppers like I need capsaicin to sustain life. I can’t help it. This year I planted jalapenos, habaneros, and cayennes, and I ended up with upwords of 15 pounds of peppers. Henceforth cam e creative ways to use them and this recipe. And thank God, because I’ve been dying to make hots for years.
“Hots” Pepper Relish
2 cups peppers (any kind, catered to your spice preference. I used jalapenos, habaneros, cayennes all with seeds in.) 3-4 onions 2 cups white sugar 2 cups cider vinegar 2 Tablespoons salt 1 kettle boiling water
- Process all peppers and onions in food processor until uniform, but not mush. (even if it ends up mush, it’s not the end of the world. Keep going.)
- To stretch relish, add more onions or some bell peppers. This can also cut down on spice, along with removing some seeds.
- Empty contents of food processor into bowl. Add salt and boiling water. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- Strain mixture with a fine strainer, removing as much liquid as possible. Set mixture aside.
- In a sauce pan, combine vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil. Once sugar is completely dissolved, add pepper mixture.
- Simmer relish for 20 minutes.
- Pour relish into clean mason jars of desired size. I boiled my jars prior to filling to make sure I kill all possible bacteria. Top with new, clean lid. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Carefully remove and place on a towel-lined surface. Don’t touch for 12 hours. You will hear the caps pop sealed soon after you remove the jars from the water.
Voila! This relish is great on sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, and my favorite – on baked brie. Makes an awesome holiday or hostess gift!