12/20/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Make Your Own Hot Sauce With Local Chiles

If you hurry, you should still find a few bushels of local chiles here and there. Grab what you can -- at least a couple quarts -- and don't worry about how glamorous they look; some are bound to be shriveled and beginning to dry. For this sauce recipe (which comes from my husband's uncle, a painter from New Orleans who has lived in rural Mexico for the better part of 40 years) it doesn't even matter what kind they are -- though obviously the hotter the chiles the hotter the brew.

Once home with your stash, don't refrigerate them. Green fruit will eventually turn red, orange, or yellow; you can make sauce at any stage, but I don't like to mix ripe with unripe in the same batch. We grow ring-of-fire cayenne, poblano, and jalapeño, and the bottle you see here includes a mixture of the three, all fully ripened. I also make an all-green jalapeño that's herbaceous, with slightly bitter notes.

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