I love hot sauce! That’s right I said it again, and now I have started making my own. For the small amount of hot sauces that 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 so I am looking for ways that I can cut costs on the hot peppers by growing them myself.
Growing your own hot peppers to make hot sauce can save money toward the production of sauce and can give your hot sauce unique qualities from specialized soil conditions. If you choose to buy hot peppers to make hot sauce your costs will increase and you may have to research the source of your produce.
Should I grow or buy peppers for my hot sauce?
Fortunately, hot peppers are very obtainable at the your local market and online but they can be very easy to grow at home 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 but there are many other ways the the hot sauce hobbyist and the professional can benefit from growing hot peppers.
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 Grow Your Own Hot Peppers where I have gone through a detailed description of growing several varieties of my own hot peppers at home. Climate, soil conditions and altitude all play an important role in nuances of pepper flavors and even HEAT!
Growing hot peppers can be time consuming compared to buying them
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 written directly on the package. Follow these simple tips as they are generally accurate.
Aside from the actual efforts of planting, there isn’t much more personal time involved with growing hot peppers. Although some avid gardeners may disagree because there can be weeding, pest control and applying nutrients involved as well but there are ways to keep this to a minimum aslo.
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. However, it is an excellent way to preserve a large quantity of peppers to have for future use in hot sauce.
Dried hot peppers can be used for any hot sauce recipe but may need to be reconstituted (re hydrated in this case) for some recipes. Dried peppers can be stored for long periods to be used in other hot sauce recipes and can also be used for fermented hot sauce recipes.
Is it cheaper to grow your own hot peppers?
YES! 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 or get Habanero, Serrano or Japeno seeds from Everwilde Farms through Walmart below.
Get Ghost Pepper Seeds or Cayenne Pepper Seeds from Amazon through these links Or get a Variety Pack to decide what may grow best in your soil conditions. Here is a valuable resource with lots a important information on purchasing hot pepper seeds.
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. for tips on growing your own. Also, I don’t use and chemicals or fertilizers so there are not any costs associated with that either and I would like to think they are organic. 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 or traditional hot 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. This is a HUGE resource to growing hot peppers. Get it here from Amazon.
GROWING HOT PEPPERS
The Pros to growing your own hot peppers
- You can grow a large quantity of hot 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. A huge amount of hot peppers can be grown in a small amount of space and they can even be grown in pots.
2. Pepper flavors and heat can be unique depending on 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. This could be a marketing campaign or just a shout out to the region you live in but hot pepper flavor and heat have a lot to do with soil conditions.
3. Growing your own peppers gives you the opportunity to 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. Put the extra funding toward equipment, gear or marketing to mass produce more sauce.
The Cons of growing your own hot peppers
- 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…on my birthday!
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 (or have access to) 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 rototiller used to turn over soil will be at the top of the list as being the most expensive.
4. It could take a lot of time and effort in the beginning
Although pepper plants are relatively maintenance free once they start growing, getting them in the ground can be a lot of work. Maintaining pest control and a consistent watering schedule may also deed a lot of dedication depending on the size of the area you intend to use.
5. May have to purchase an additional dehydrator
If you have produced a large quantity of peppers you may need to consider storing them for a long period of time to preserve them. 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 HOT PEPPERS
The Pros of buying hot peppers
- Buying hot peppers for hot sauce is 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, farm markets and online locations. 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 and choosing a variety you have never used before is much easier than growing two dozen varieties.
3. Buying hot peppers saves time
A trip to the local market could be an hours’ worth of time verses a summer long experiment in growing peppers. Although growing you own hot peppers can save money it is much more time consuming than buying them.
The Cons of buying hot peppers
- Buying hot peppers is more expensive than growing them
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. Need a consistent supplier
In order to control the flavor, pH and quality of your hot sauce you should have a consistent supplier who can provide peppers from the same source. Soil and climate control have a lot to do with flavor and establishing a relationship with a seller can also help with negotiated costs.
Can’t I just buy pepper plants instead of seeds?
Although buying seed packs can be a lot less expensive than buying live plants, purchasing the plant does not necessarily mean it will grow faster. The temperature of the soil and weather conditions have so much to do 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.
Live hot pepper plants can usually be purchased from your local home and garden store at the beginning of the growing season. These plants have been started from seeds, planted in a small amount of nutritious soil and have already been culled through to deliver the healthiest plants.
You can purchase live plants online that are ready to be planted in warm soil immediately. Here is a link to Amazon for a 3 Pack of Caribbean Red Habanero or Carolina Reaper for about $9.00 to $11.00 USD per plant. Get updated pricing here.
Growing Tip: ALL plants will go into SHOCK when they are transplanted in to a different soil than what they were germinated in.
Make sure the soil you are planting your peppers plants in is at least 75 – 85 degrees consistently. See Growing Hot Peppers for more information on growing conditions.
In addition, hot pepper plants ready to be planted in the ground will be much more expensive than planting seeds. Grow and buy to see if either will offer an advantage to your sauce making experience.