Q: Hello Dave,
Happen to have an over-abundance of habaneros this summer and my freezer has "runneth over!" I really like your "Essential Hot Habanero Sauce" recipe from your book Habanero – The Pepper Pantry which I simply cannot live without! Please advise shelf life without refrigeration as I plan to make at least a dozen 4-oz (Ball) canning jars. Would topping up with canola oil help prevent possible spoilage? Also, can I substitute tamarind/calamondin juice (have a prolific tree in my backyard)? Thank you very much!
A: Hello Sue:
When using vinegar and lime juice to acidify this sauce, you would still have to process in a water bath to insure safe canning. The shelf life would be at least a year and maybe more. Topping with canola oil would have no effect on preserving the sauce, and would significantly alter the flavor—in other words, don’t do it. Tamarind pulp is 8 to 14 percent tartaric acid (also found in wine) that is used to make cream of tartar. One dictionary noted: "Tartaric acid is a muscle toxin, which works by inhibiting the production of malic acid, and in high doses causes paralysis and death. The minimum recorded fatal dose for a human is about 12 grams. In spite of that, it is included in many foods, especially sour-tasting sweets." Tamarind pulp or juice could be substituted in small quantities for lime juice (citric acid) and/or vinegar (acetic acid), but it would radically alter the flavor of the sauce.