1. Cheating on a recipe
Usually, if someone publishes a recipe it is because it is tried, tested, and true…and tastes great. A recipe is not copywritten but the written process of getting there could be. It is OK to tweak it a little to make it your own but producing it first by following the recipe before you decide what you want to change about it.
Never substitute ingredients in a hot sauce recipe and expect to get the same results. Hot sauce recipes are great for swapping out different types of peppers but using all the same ingredients. This is a great way to change the color, heat level but all hot peppers have a slightly different flavor beyond the heat.
Never use low-quality ingredients, stale spices, or unripe peppers. This damages the overall high-quality flavor of the hot sauce.
2. Being impatient
I have a lot of kitchen experience but never made a decent-tasting hot sauce until I made, altered, and mastered several different recipes. I was very eager to produce a product but needed to slow down and produce something unique and valuable by trying different recipes and many varieties of existing hot sauce brands.
The same principle applies if you want to sell your hot sauce for a profit. Your test groups may rave about your sauce, but things change when it comes time to purchase. Finding the right demographics to purchase a new hot sauce brand and the right store to sell it in may take some time.
3. Using inexpensive equipment
I am always cutting corners to try and save money but if you are passionate about something like making and selling your hot sauce you should have decent equipment. This does not mean you need expensive, commercial quality equipment at startup.
Producing hot sauce to have a thin consistency or to be able to blend efficiently will require a blender with at least 600 watts or more. Some small food processors just won’t produce the same consistency and are much smaller than many commercial and tabletop blenders. This would make the production of sauce, even on a small scale, very laborious.
4. Make too many varieties of hot sauce
Choose a variety of flavors that you like the most and try to replicate it but don’t try to duplicate every kind of hot sauce. There can be a lot of variations to a simple recipe without expanding or adding to the ingredients. Having three hot sauce recipes that you can make without needing to follow a written recipe is a great feat but make sure you have mastered them first.
5. Making hot sauce with ingredients YOU don’t like
If you don’t like pineapples don’t just put them into your sauce because you think it gives a market advantage. I hate NUTMEG! So I NEVER use it in a hot sauce recipe or any recipe. Although nutmeg may be an unusual ingredient for a hot sauce the point is that YOU will have to taste test your sauce in the beginning and throughout production, so enjoying the flavor will just make this a better experience.
6. Not storing it properly
Many hot sauce recipes will have a low pH due to the vinegar contents and can be stored without refrigeration. If you are not sure of the pH of a hot sauce or have not tested it, store it in the refrigerator. Even if it does have a low pH store it in the refrigerator anyway. Refrigeration will slow bacterial growth and allow you to enjoy hot sauce longer without compromising quality and flavor.
7. Not letting others sample it
If you love hot sauce the chances are that you have friends or acquaintances who also enjoy it. SHARE YOUR SAUCE WITH THEM! This is an excellent opportunity to get feedback from a new hot sauce recipe or an honest opinion on flavor, consistency, and appearance. This is also a great opportunity to introduce foods that your sauce pairs with. Hosting hot sauce-themed parties or gatherings is a fantastic way to allow people to sample a new hot sauce.
8. Not following a recipe
Hot sauce recipes are simple but creating one from scratch before you have followed a recipe doesn’t give you much guidance. Find a simple recipe, make the sauce, and then create your own by altering some of the ingredients.
For hot sauces, it is most often the process that makes it unique and stands out. Not following a specific process can veer a recipe in the wrong direction quite easily. Adhere to the recipe process if you are making the same recipe every time, even if it is your own.
9. Mixing ingredients that do not pair well together
This is along the same lines as making up hot sauce recipes before you have a solid grasp on a simple recipe. Kitchen experience may give you familiarity with types of spices, fruits, vegetables, liquids, and powders that work well together in recipes. Hot sauce is similar. There is a reason why some ingredients like garlic and vinegar are more popular than others.
10. Failing to document a recipe
Even if you are following a great hot sauce recipe you may still have some notes to make. Sometimes minuscule details like the cooking temperature or duration can make a difference. You should absolutely document any homemade recipes you have created, whether you think they will be good or not. Always include the weight of each ingredient as well as a very detailed process. Naming and dating any storage containers is essential as well.
11. Forgetting to label a new recipe
If you are like me you may be creating hot sauce recipes constantly and your refrigerator could be filled with many different woozy bottles. Label all of your creations with the date, a name, and what is included in the hot sauce. This usually only includes temporary labeling so containers can be marked up with marker or tape.
12. Making a hot sauce too hot!
Don’t make a hot sauce using ghost peppers or Carolina reaper if you don’t think you can handle the heat. I like to make hot sauces that I enjoy that have a lower level of heat. A hot sauce with a lower heat level can be enjoyed by a larger audience of consumers.
13. Not wearing gloves
Even a low SHU pepper like jalapeno can irritate areas of the skin and especially the eye. This can also become a highly irritated area if you have a cut or abrasion. Gloves are cheap but it may take a while to get used to. Try plastic, latex, or washable.
14. Rubbing eyes
I am always rubbing my eye area almost uncontrollably sometimes. Post signs in your work area as reminders not to touch the eye area or wear safety glasses…really! Wearing goggles can prevent eye rubbing and also the splash of pepper juice from a hot pepper. If you are making hot sauce with some of the hottest peppers in the world then this could be a dangerous situation.
15. Forgetting to wash utensils and equipment properly
I cut some peppers and only rinsed the knife with water upon putting it away. I used the same knife to cut apples for my daughter and the residue from the peppers got onto the apples. I tried one and it was an interesting flavor but my daughter didn’t care for the spiciness. Wash all utensils and appliances with an oil-reducing soap like Dawn.
16. Not capitalizing on the hot sauce business
If you make a great hot sauce…share it with people! There is not a better time than now to enter the hot sauce business. The market is growing and entering the business is easier than ever. Don’t dismiss a great hot sauce if your intent was never to sell it commercially…there is a demand for great hot sauces.