Heat up your holiday gift-giving with homemade hot sauce.

Hot Sauce

Use ingredients from your garden and local area farms and markets for spicy treats given from the heart.

We all know the holidays are a great time for giving, and nothing is better than giving something from your heart and your home. Ever since the kids were young we’ve encouraged them to create something for our family and friends instead of purchasing gifts: from homemade soap, refrigerator magnets, music CDs, and stationery to creamy homemade butter made by shaking heavy cream in a jar.

One of our perennial favorites uses items harvested directly from our garden—hot sauce. We grow a variety of hot and mild peppers, and this year we had a bumper crop of habañero chiles. I prefer to pick these peppers when they first start showing signs of color. They move through a  beautiful array of yellows and oranges until finally arriving at their fire engine red color and their hottest heat level. I also like to incorporate another garden favorite: golden cherry tomatoes. They’re the perfect color orange and, combined with fresh cranberries and apple cider, add additional sweetness to help balance out the peppery bite of the habañero. You can substitute mangoes, kiwi, pineapple, or peaches but I prefer to use seasonal and local fruits and vegetables while they’re available.

Now this sauce is HOT but not unbearable (if you want to take it up a notch or two, just leave the seeds and membranes in the chiles). We sprinkle it on our morning frittatas, and serve as an accompaniment to the holiday ham, or as a dip on the cheese board. It’s a great way to add a little sweet heat to your holidays.


Peter Houghton and his family enjoy making culinary holiday gifts, especially ones that use their garden’s yield and local ingredients. Always experimenting in the kitchen, Peter predicts an extra hot holiday for loved ones this year.