pawpaw pepper sauce

Pawpaw season is here again! Our kitchen is once again overrun by this delicious and short-lived fruit.

(At some point, I should probably give a little rundown of what pawpaws are since most people aren’t familiar with it. Add that to the list of things to do…)

When we first moved in, I made a large batch of pawpaw butter, which I then handed out to family and friends. Last year, we were not particularly prepared, so we just processed a lot of the fruit and froze the puree. This year… This year, I have PLANS.

I gave a whole mess of fruit to a friend last year and he made a delicious pawpaw liqueur with it. It was sweet with some ripe fruity notes, but finished like buttery caramel. I want to try my hand at making it. I started an infusion today using frozen puree, and I’ll do another one with fresh. I’m curious how they’ll compare and how the puree holds up with storage.

But since it looks like we’ll have a lot of fruit again this year, there’s still room for experiments. So today, I made a pawpaw pepper sauce.

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Peppers for days.

Every year, I plant chilis. And every year, I have waaaaaaaaaay too many peppers than I know what to do with. While I was in the garden picking peppers today, I could smell the sweet drunken fragrance of overripe pawpaws in the air. In my head, I could “envision” what a spicy pepper sauce tempered by the tropical notes of pawpaw sweetness would taste like.

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I don’t know how to take fancy pictures of things.

Having never made pepper sauce before, I decided to keep the ingredients very simple. I did a little research on the proportions of chilis to vinegar, and settled on a straightforward one cup to about one pound of chilis after reading several recipes.

I ended up using:

  • About half a pound of bird’s eye chilis
  • A mixture of apple cider vinegar, rice wine vinegar, and fermented cane vinegar totaling roughly half a cup in volume
  • A bunch of pawpaws, scooped from their skins, seeds removed (don’t eat the seeds) — I forgot to measure this*
  • Salt to taste

I cooked it all together, then blended it down with a stick blender. (My regular blender is terrible and I hate it.) I tasted it, and the spiciness punched me in the mouth. So I strained out the solids, tasted it again, and added some solids back for texture and heat.

The result is fucking delicious. It’s still spicy–there’s no question about that. But it’s a much more tolerable, tasty level of heat.

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It’s hard to take a good pic of sauce. So here is a bad one.

I’m still going to make liqueur this season, but I’m going to earmark several pounds of pawpaws for pepper sauce too. So if you’re proximate to me, don’t be surprised if you get a jar of pepper sauce as a gift in the near future.


*Adam always says I need to take more notes in the kitchen, and he’s probably right. But I usually just go with rough proportions and tasting.** Sure, batches don’t come out exactly the same, but they still come out right. So.

**Unless I’m baking or doing an experiment. Then it’s precision kitchen scales all the way.