I love hot sauce. That’s right I said it again. And now I have started making my own. The small amounts I make in my kitchen do not need a large amount of the main ingredient, hot peppers, but I found a great recipe and now I want to make more.

Should I grow or buy peppers for my hot sauce?

Fortunately, hot peppers are very obtainable at the local market and they can be very easy to grow as well. If you make your own hot sauce in large quantities, you may want to consider the option of growing them over buying them. Growing your own hot peppers to make sauce can decrease the cost of making it.

Peppers are a relatively inexpensive produce item and if bought from a supplier in large quantities it could reduce your costs even further. Also, if you are making a unique blend of sauce you may want to consider growing your own peppers. For more on this see my blog “Growing your own hot peppers” where I have gone through a detailed description of growing several varieties of my own hot peppers.

How long does it take to grow hot peppers?

Most pepper varieties will produce ripe fruits in about 80 – 100 days. Most seed packets that you purchase will have the duration until harvest as well as other information for proper planting techniques. Follow these simple tips as they are generally accurate.

What should I do with a large quantity of peppers I have grown?

If you have had a great growing season and you have a large quantity of peppers you may want to consider drying them out before you make sauce. There are many methods of doing this and I have written about it extensively in 3 Ways To Dry Hot Peppers. Drying hot peppers can take 8 to 18 hours or longer depending on the method you use.

Is it cheaper to grow your own hot peppers?

It is much less expensive to grow your own hot peppers. Most seed packs contain at least 2 dozen seeds. If that were one plant for each seed from a plant that produces 20 – 30 peppers, that is a lot of peppers! Most seed packs cost about $2.00 a pack so it be as many as 300 peppers from one pack of seeds. Of course, you may have to factor in soil, labor, nutrients and water. You can purchase seeds here from Amazon.

I grow them in my back-yard home farm and perform all the labor myself so I don’t factor in the labor cost. Read Grow Your Own Hot Peppers. Also, I don’t use and chemicals or fertilizers so there are not any costs associated with that either. I have a well pump that uses electricity, but I have not broken down the cost per wattage hour it takes to water the garden, as this may be minimal.

Peppers are not a very expensive produce and the purchase of a large quantity could be much less expensive. Also, purchasing either fresh or dried peppers is much more convenient than growing. If you are a beginner sauce maker like me than maybe you will want to stick with a typical sauce at first. I have broken down the pros and cons of growing your own hot peppers vs purchasing peppers for making your own special sauce.

Not sure what kind of peppers to grow? Check out The Field Guide to Peppers by Dave Dewitt and Jamie Lamson. Over 300 pages of what I would call the “specification” of peppers. It includes size, growth habits and heat level. Get it here from Amazon.

GROWING

Pros

  1. Large quantity of peppers at a very low cost. If you have the property or already have a garden this would be a easy step in saving money toward making hot sauce.
  2. Unique peppers per soil conditions. The climate and soil conditions have so much to with the growth of vegetables that growing in certain regions cannot be duplicated elsewhere.
  3. Make a lot of sauce. If you are able to grow a great crop of hot peppers you have then saved a lot of money and can use the savings towards making more sauce.

Cons

  1. Weather conditions could determine crop. A terrible summer can just ruin a good farming season. There is no real way of telling what mother nature may do to your crop of hot peppers. We had a freak hailstorm one year that knocked out 90% of everything I had.
  2. May have to build green house. If you are taking this to the next level a green house can control your growing conditions but could add an additional expense. Fortunately, it should only be a onetime expense plus a little extra cost to maintain.
  3. Need to purchase land and tools. All Farming and gardening needs the right tools for the job. As stated above if you are an avid gardener than your certainly have this taken care of. A roto tiller will be at the top of the list as being the most expensive.
  4. Takes a lot of time and effort. Although pepper plants are relatively maintenance free once they start growing, getting them in the ground can be a lot of work.
  5. May have to purchase an additional dehydrator. If you have produced a large quantity of peppers you will need to consider storing them long term. Unless you have a commercial grade dehydrator you may need to purchase an additional one to keep up with storing them until they are ready for sauce.

BUYING

Pros

  1. Convenient. Large quantities of peppers are grown in the United States as well as over seas. There are typically several varieties available at most grocery stores. In my area there are small farm stands everywhere with freshest peppers from the mornings crop.
  2. Many varieties to choose from. Many hot sauces combine varieties of peppers to give them a unique flavor. Picking through the produce stand is much easier than growing two dozen varieties.

Cons

  1. More expensive than growing. I did some quick math on the cost of seeds vs buying peppers above and I have grown enough produce to know there can be some huge cost differences between the two.
  2. Time saving. A trip to the local market could be an hours’ worth of time verses a summer long experiment in growing peppers.

Can’t I just buy pepper plants instead of seeds?

Although buying seed packs can be a lot less expensive, purchasing the plant does not necessarily mean it will grow faster. The temperature of the soil and weather conditions have so much to with whether your plants will grow or not that even a healthy plant may take some time to really take off and then produce crops.

Grow and buy to see if either will offer an advantage to your sauce making experience.

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