There are over 500 hot sauces that use water as one of the ingredients in a hot sauce. Some may use filtered or distilled water and some name-brand hot sauces use water as the main ingredient. Water is the fourth most common ingredient in a hot sauce behind peppers, vinegar, and garlic.
Can you add water to a hot sauce without thinning it out?
You can add water to hot sauce without thinning it out by cooking it off. However, water is not the desired additive in a hot sauce like many other ingredients. The best type of water to use in a hot sauce is filtered water or bottled water instead of tap water because filtered water removes all of the chemicals from tap water that are not needed in a hot sauce.
Water can be used as a cooking aid to prepare hot sauce recipes or can be added during processing to combine flavors and then cooked off. Water can also be used as the main ingredient but it should not be used to thin out a hot sauce. This will change the flavor, reduce the heat and lessen the quality of the sauce.
Why use water at all in a hot sauce?
There are many uses that water has in cooking, preparing, and making many different food types especially hot sauce. You can use water in a hot sauce but use it in the right way and don’t just use it to thin out a sauce and make a larger quantity.
Certain processes like smoking or roasting peppers will draw out the water from the peppers. This intensifies the flavor when made into a hot sauce but makes a thicker sauce. Many hot sauces are a thin to medium consistency that allow them to flow through the narrow top of a woozy bottle. Adding water to a hot sauce can give the sauce a liquid consistency without including the acidity that vinegar will.
Water can replace vinegar
Many classic-style hot sauces that replicate the original form of hot sauce use vinegar as a preservative and flavoring agent like many contemporary condiments also do. This makes the hot sauce very acidic. Water can replace vinegar without acidity but that means that other preservation methods would be needed if there are concerns with the shelf life. Water will also not add any flavoring to the hot sauce as vinegar may.
Some common vinegar types used in hot sauce like distilled white vinegar and apple cider vinegar have distinct flavors to them that water cannot replace. There are dozens of popular vinegar types used in hot sauce recipes that influence the flavor of the hot sauce. Water will not do that.
Water will not change the flavor of a hot sauce
Most of the ingredients that you include in a hot sauce should be in the sauce for flavor. There can be additives to bind ingredients together, aid in the preservation, and add color but hot sauces are known for their bold taste. Water will not contribute to this bold flavor. If overused it could decrease bold spiciness or if used correctly it could help fuse the ingredients together in some processes like cooking.
Water will reduce the heat of hot sauce by reducing the mass of hot peppers
Adding water to a hot sauce recipe does not necessarily make the sauce less hot from the water contacting the peppers, it simply dilutes or thins out the sauce and therefore making a less concentrated heat source. Adding water to reduce the heat should be used instead of other liquid substances and then cooked or steamed out of the sauce.
The addition of water will reduce the heat of a hot sauce only by reducing the amount of hot peppers in a unit measurement of sauce. Adding water will not reduce the heat otherwise. For example: A 10-ounce bottle of purely hot peppers will have 10 oz of peppers. That would be a high concentration per serving. Add 5 oz of water and you would need to remove 5 oz of peppers, making the concentration of hot peppers much less.
Water could lesson the quality of hot sauce if not used correctly
Water added to a mixture of hot peppers, vinegar and garlic will diminish the rich and deep essences and dilute their flavors. This will decrease the quality of the sauce much like watering down a craft beer or great cup of coffee.
Water does mix well with the above-mentioned ingredients but will give a “watered” down appearance, especially when poured onto an entrée. Using this method of adding water could cause the ingredients to separate and this also gives the appearance of a condiment of lesser quality. However, adding water can be very beneficial to the flavor and appearance of the sauce if the water is cooked off.
Cooking will reduce (make a thicker) hot sauce
With the amount of water added per your recipe slow cook the hot sauce with the top off. This will allow the water to evaporate and thicken up the sauce. During this process, the ingredients get melded together to create a rich flavored sauce. Remember that hot peppers will give off a pungency when cooked so perform this step in a well-ventilated room.
Why add water just to cook it off?
Adding water to a hot sauce and cooking it off until it evaporates will decrease some of the heat of the hot peppers. I love the flavor of peppers but cannot always tolerate the heat, and neither can my wife and kids. Any process, especially cooking, that the hot peppers go through will reduce the heat but it will also infuse the heat and flavoring of the hot pepper with the other ingredients.
Water is good for you
One reason to add water to a hot sauce is that it is good for you and is not an additive that will cause any health concerns within a hot sauce (there really are not many that are). This is not to say that the other ingredients in hot sauce are not healthy. Generally speaking, hot sauce is considered one of the healthiest condiments on the market and the addition of water to a recipe won’t diminish this quality.
The amount of water added to a hot sauce is minimal compared to the amount of water that is needed for daily intake. In other word…don’t add water to a hot sauce because you are trying to make a healthy version of your sauce.
Water can be the main ingredient of a hot sauce
The main ingredient of most hot sauces is usually hot peppers…but you already knew that. Because hot peppers have a lot of flavor and heat to them you can still draw out a lot of their flavor and heat with the peppers being second on the list of ingredients next to water. Many well known varieties of hot sauce list water as the first ingredient.
Here’s hot to list water on an ingredient label
According to the FDA, (Food and Drug Administration) the list of ingredients of a hot sauce is listed in order by volume in the recipe. If water is listed first…it is the highest percentage of ingredients on the list by measurement of weight. You would still need to drink a lot of hot sauce to consume any amount of water that would contribute to your health.
Do I have to list water on an ingredient label?
The FDA also states that water needs to be listed on the ingredient label in order of weight versus other ingredients. However, if water is removed by some sort of processing, such as cooking a hot sauce until the water evaporates, then it does not need to be listed on the ingredient label.
Many popular hot sauce brands use water as one of the main ingredients and there are also many that list it first, meaning by weight water is the most prominent ingredient. However, water added to a hot sauce does not always mean that it is “watered” down.
Adding water does not mean you are cheating a recipe
Adding water to a hot sauce does not mean you intend to thin out a hot sauce to make it go further because you want to increase the quantity, unless that is your intent. Adding water can very easily dilute the heat and especially the flavor of a hot sauce so be careful with the amount used. There are many reasons water is used in a recipe. If you experiment with multiple variations of a recipe always have several smaller batches of sauce in case the main one doesn’t work out.
For some hot sauce recipes, the ingredients may be mixed, mashed, or blended and then go through additional processing. Even though hot peppers contain a large amount of water additional water can aid in the blending process and get cooked off later.
Most fruits and vegetables contain water and hot peppers are no exception. Some varieties contain as much as 90% water. Keep this in mind when mixing with other ingredients because it will affect the outcome of the hot sauce.
Can you add water to hot sauce?
How does water mix with other hot sauce ingredient?
Water will mix with the most common hot sauce ingredients like hot peppers, vinegar, and spices due to their high water content. However, any hot sauces containing oil will not mix with any water content unless an emulsifying substance xanthan gum or lecithin is added.
Water added to fermented hot sauce may float above the other ingredients because it does not have the same density as the salt intensified ingredients. A simple fermented hot sauce recipe of aged peppers and vinegar will force the water to separate above the other ingredients if it sits for any length of time. It will still taste good but will have to be shaken up every time you use it.
Is any water OK in a hot sauce?
Water is essential to all cooking, food preparation, and manufacturing states lifewatersource. Water can improve the quality of the other ingredients and this may also depend on the source of the water. There are many sources of water but some may not be as clean and others could contain unwanted chemicals for a hot sauce.
Use a filtered water in hot sauce
Bottled water in any form is the best water to use in hot sauce because it has gone through a filtering or distilling process. Use the same water from the same manufacturer to keep the recipe consistent, although the differences will be subtle.
Don’t use tap water in a hot sauce
Tap water that comes from a municipality will be filtered with chlorine or other chemicals. While it is still safe to drink and will not cause any harm to the human body, some of these chemicals may have strong flavors when compared to bottled water.
Why is water added to hot sauce?
Water can be used in many ways throughout the processing of hot sauce or as an addition throughout production, not just for thinning a hot sauce. Water has been used in cooking for years due to its availability and cost.
Water can be used as an aid during the cooking process, if your hot sauce uses a cooking process. It can also be used to dissolve and extract flavor compounds and manipulate or cook other ingredients in a hot sauce. Water can be added to a hot recipe to “blend” the other ingredients together and join flavors as one substance. The water can then be cooked off to thicken up the sauce to the desired consistency.
Use water to make hot sauce cause its cheap
For some tap water is free. This would be one reason to use it, disregarding the above-mentioned reasons not to. However, bottled water or filtered water is one of the least expensive ingredients in a bottle of hot sauce, per volume of sauce.
Although you can purchase many hot pepper varieties well below $.10 or $.11 an ounce, water can be about half the cost. Bottled water can cost as low as $.03 an ounce and that is mostly because you are paying for the plastic bottle. Filtered water would be even less expensive if your filter and store your own.
Water may separate from the other ingredient
Many fermented hot sauces will separate the hot peppers into water and peppers. This is because the peppers have been soaking in a saltwater brine and it is this salt concentration that is denser and causes them to sink. The “freshwater” from the other ingredients floats on top because it does not have the same mass density.
Oil and water-based hot sauce will also separate from each other and most oils used in a hot sauce will also separate from the water-based hot peppers. This is not uncommon and does not reflect the overall flavor of the hot sauce, but there are ways to remedy the situation.
When should I add water to a hot sauce recipe?
The moment during or after processing that water is added is important in the consistency, flavor, and pH level of a hot sauce. Adding a substantial amount of water to a great recipe you have just perfected will completely change the heat, flavor, and appearance of the sauce by making it a diluted, watery mess.
Adding a large amount of water at the beginning processing stages and cooking off the water until it evaporates will produce a richer and ticker hot sauce. Don’t add water at the end of a recipe and expect to get the same results.
Water changes the pH
Water is neutral on the pH scale and hot sauces are typically acidic. Simply adding water to a hot sauce after processing will ultimately raise the pH level and this affects the shelf life. Hot sauces are known for their acidic levels to increase the length of time they can be consumed after they are opened.
Water does not stabilize a hot sauce
Water is often used in recipes so that flavors can join each other such as soups and broths. This can also be done in a hot sauce but the addition of water with other ingredients does not mean that it will stabilize the sauce. For some ingredients such as oil, the addition of water will cause the ingredients to separate.