How to Process & Seal Hot Sauce Bottles

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Making and canning your own hot sauce at home is economical and easy to do. The basic hot sauce recipe consists of distilled white vinegar, salt and peppers. You can add cumin, garlic, onions or other herbs and spices to create the heat and flavor you want. Canning supplies are usually available at markets, farm stores or big-box stores.

Prepare the peppers, onion, garlic and tomatoes. You don't need to worry about chopping them too finely because you will be blending them later. Wear gloves when handling the peppers.

Place the peppers, onion, garlic and tomatoes into a large pot with the vinegar, cumin, chili powder, salt and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook about one hour.

Sanitize the canning jars. Either wash them in a dishwasher or by hand in hot, soapy water. Leave them in the dishwasher on the heated dry cycle until ready to fill. If you wash them by hand, boil them for 10 minutes afterwards and leave in the hot water until ready to fill.

Put the lids (not the rings) in a bowl of hot water for at least five minutes, or follow the manufacturer's directions. This will soften the sealing gum on the lids.

Process the hot sauce mixture in a food mill, food processor or blender until smooth. If it is too hot or too thick add some of the reserved tomato juice.

Using the jar tongs, remove one jar from the hot water and insert the canning funnel into its neck. Fill with hot sauce to within 1/4 inch of the top of the jar. Remove the funnel and any air bubbles using a spatula inserted down the inside edge of the jar. Fill the other jars in the same way.

Wipe the rim of the jars with a warm, damp cloth. They must be clean in order to seal properly.

Remove a lid from the hot water using the magnetic wand. Place the lid into a ring and screw the ring onto the jar. Tighten until snug. Repeat with the other jars.

Bring the water in the canning pot to a boil. It should be filled about two-thirds of the way up the side of the pot.

Put the filled and lidded jars into the boiling water in the canning pot. The water should cover the tops of the jars. Put the lid on the pot.

Boil the jars of hot sauce for 10 minutes if you live 0 to 1000 feet above sea level, for 15 minutes if you live 1001 to 6000 feet above sea level or 20 minutes if you live 6001 or more feet above sea level.

Remove the jars from the canning pot and leave them to cool for 12 to 24 hours. Check to make sure the jars sealed. Store in a cool, dry area for up to 12 months.

Wait to eat for one week. The longer you wait the better the flavors will blend. Refrigerate after opening the jar.