Making a basic pepper sauce is a task that you can confidentially tackle even as a novice in the kitchen. If you make a mistake, you will still be rewarded with a homemade hot sauce almost every time. Your method will evolve with every batch, but for the first round, just focus on selecting a type of pepper you enjoy.
Fill a food processor about 3/4-full with chopped fresh peppers of your favorite variety. Add four garlic cloves and half of a minced onion for every cup of chopped peppers.
Pulse the food processor until the peppers, garlic and onions are finely diced. For every cup of peppers you used, add about 14 ounces of canned diced tomatoes, 2/3 cup of cider vinegar and a pinch of salt.
Puree the contents of the food processor and scrape the sides with a silicone spatula. Add a bit of water and pulse the food processor to mix it in. Repeat this process until the mixture becomes soupy. You can also add a couple splashes of olive oil to help the sauce reach a soupy consistency and make it richer.
Taste the sauce and make any last-minute adjustments, but keep in mind that as the sauce matures its flavor will intensify. If you would prefer more garlic, onion, salt or some other spice like cilantro, add it now.
Transfer the hot sauce from the food processor to a large pot over medium heat. Bring the contents to a slow simmer, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot frequently with the silicone spatula. Simmer the sauce for one to two hours. Remove it from the heat.
Pour the hot sauce into sterilized canning jars using a funnel to avoid making a mess. Leave at least 1/2 inch of space between the sauce and the top of the jar.
Wipe the rims of the lids with a clean, damp towel and close the jars immediately. Place the jars into a boiling water canner and seal them per the canner's instructions. This typically entails 10 to 15 minutes of boiling the jars. Set them in open air to cool for 12 to 24 hours.
Check the seals on the jars by pressing the center with your finger -- if the lid pops under your finger, it did not seal properly, but if it holds solid, it is properly sealed.
Refrigerate any jars that did not seal properly and use them within a month, store the rest in a cool, dark place until you are ready to use them.
Eat your pepper sauce with soups, burgers, hot dogs or scrambled eggs. You can also use it mixed into mustard, mayonnaise and cocktail sauce.
Make small batches of hot sauce at first so you can use it quickly and make any necessary adjustments to the next batch. Once you have a recipe you enjoy, make larger batches to gift to family and friends.
If any stored hot sauce grows mold or develops a foul smell, discard it immediately.