Up Your Hot Sauce Game With These Expert-Approved Tips & Recipes
How to Make Hot Sauce
Hot sauce enthusiasts are not limited to what’s on the shelf at the local supermarket. Unique and adventurous hot sauces can be found at farmers’ markets across the country and at places like Heatonist, which sells a variety of hot sauces online and also has two stores in New York where you can try before you buy.
And, let’s not forget, if you have the ingenuity and desire, you can also create your own DIY hot sauces at home from the comfort of your kitchen. But before you create some crazy concoction that goes above and beyond the Scoville scale, we spoke with Noah Chaimberg, founder and owner of the Heatonist, to get his tips on how to create the ultimate hot sauce at home.
How to Make Hot Sauce
Hot Sauce Ingredients
Chaimberg says there is only one requisite ingredient for any hot sauce: Chile pepper. “From there, it’s all just creativity and imagination,” he adds. The most common hot sauces are going to have some type of vinegar; you need some acid to make the hot sauce shelf-stable. Other ingredients used to make hot sauce include fruit such as mango, garlic for a savory hot sauce, and salt to help kick up some flavor.
There are “no limits to the imagination with what you can do” when it comes to making hot sauces, Chaimberg says, naming a blueberry ghost pepper hot sauce and a hot sauce made with smoked serrano peppers, apricot and lime juice as examples of some of the unique offerings he’s seen.
Chaimberg says to avoid adding too much of any one ingredient when preparing your hot sauce. He recommends adding an ingredient gradually and taste testing as you go to obtain your desired flavor. “When you are making it at home, you can always add more,” he says. “But you can never take an ingredient out.”
Types of Peppers for Hot Sauce
There are a wide variety of peppers from which to choose. Chaimberg says there can be a lot of variants within one type of pepper, so consider that when adding your chili pepper ingredients.
Chili peppers all fall in a range from sweet or mild like ancho or Anaheim chili peppers to superhots like ghost peppers and Carolina reapers. In the middle of the spectrum are medium (e.g., jalapenos, serranos), medium-hot (e.g., Tabasco, cayenne), and hot (e.g., scotch bonnet, habanero) chili peppers.
Chaimberg says if you are cooking with milder peppers, you can be casual when making your hot sauce. But if you start getting into the superhot spectrum, you need to be more considerate of your atmosphere and take precautions.
Those cooking with superhot peppers on a larger scale must wear respirators and goggles. So, if you are doing it at home, you should try to cook outdoors if possible or at the very least in a well-ventilated area. “Don’t have the baby and the dog in the next room,” Chaimberg says.
Another warning: Never rub your eyes or skin when cooking with super hot peppers. Chaimberg says the same receptors we have in our mouth are also on our eyes and skin.
Hot Sauce Making Supplies
Chaimberg says that the basic starter kit for making your own hot sauce is simple: you need a blender, a pot and a funnel for getting the hot sauce into a bottle.
The type of blender will be based on what kind of volume of hot sauce you are making: A Ninja ($159 from Amazon) or Vitamix ($398.97 from Amazon) blender will do the trick for a smaller batch, but if you are making a pot of hot sauce, you should consider using an immersion blender (this KitchenAid immersion blender at $39.95 got good reviews from Amazon customers).
You also need to make sure you put proper ventilation in place if you don’t already have a system set up in your home. “People get in trouble with the whole family because they are trying a new batch of hot sauce,” he says, “Your husband or wife walks in and says, ‘Why are my eyes burning?’”
Bottling Your Hot Sauce
If you are bottling your hot sauce, Chaimberg recommends 5-ounce Woozy glass bottles (30-pack available for $25.99 on Amazon). Five ounces is the standard size for hot sauce, he says.
If you are just making a fresh batch of hot sauce to use quickly, you can simply put it in a container and place it in the fridge. It should last in there for a few weeks, but there can be some variants depending on the ingredients. It will be hard to determine if the hot sauce has gone bad based on the smell, but visually you should be able to notice some mold or bubbling, Chaimberg says.
Another option is to can your hot sauce. You will want to store it in a glass container with a vacuum seal. “It’s going to be stable to put in the cupboard and last for a year or possibly longer,” Chaimberg says.
If you get good enough that you think it’s time to sell your hot sauce, you can Google some available courses in your area that will teach you how to safely package foods, especially hot sauce. Chaimberg says the in-person courses usually include between 15 and 20 hours of instruction.
Chaimberg also notes that anyone interested in selling their hot sauce can contact his store by phone or email if they are looking for some guidance on kitchen space, safety certification and safe bottling courses.
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Hot Sauce Recipes
Now that you know how things work and what to be aware of when making hot sauce, we narrowed down our five favorite recipes – from basic to more unique – that you can try at home:
Grilled Pineapple and Jalapeno Sauce
This video is produced by Hot Ones, an internet video show where the host interviews celebrities and has them try different hot sauces. In this video, Erica Diehl of Queen Majesty Hot Sauce in Brooklyn demonstrates how to make a grilled pineapple and jalapeno hot sauce and Sicilian scorpion pepper hot sauce. (Side note: Chaimberg and his team have been working with Hot Ones for about three years.)
The author of the Husbands That Cook Blog describes this pique sauce – which incorporates green jalapeño peppers and dried chile de arbol peppers in its ingredients – as “spicy, tangy and deeply flavorful.”
A post shared by Husbands That Cook (@husbandsthatcook) on Aug 16, 2016 at 6:03am PDT
Carolina Reaper Hot Sauce
This recipe from the Chile Pepper Madness blog is for those who really want to challenge their taste buds by making the hottest of hot sauces.
Pepper Joe’s Hot Sauces
You’ve got to trust the hot sauce recipes from a guy named Pepper Joe. These organic homemade recipe offerings include a range of options, from mild to super hot to a gourmet roasted garlic hot sauce.
A post shared by Pepper Joe’s (@pepperjoes) on Apr 25, 2018 at 8:54am PDT
Pre-Made Hot Sauces
If you are disinclined to prepare your own hot sauce and prefer to purchase it, Chaimberg offers these recommendations (all bottles are 5 ounces):
Great Starter Sauce: Hot Ones – The Classic
Great Everyday Sauce: Secret Aardvark Habanero
Great Flavor Sauce: Heatonist #4
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October 26, 2019 at 12:10AM