Believe it or not, carrots are more common in a hot sauce than you think. These are usually in the form of fresh carrots and are included in the processing of the sauce, whether it is cooking, roasting, or fermenting. There are many ways that carrots can be processed that can enhance their flavor or improve the consistency of a hot sauce.
Carrots can balance the acidity of a hot sauce, add a distinct orange color, and can complement other ingredients within a hot sauce. Blended carrots create a thick base for a hot sauce recipe that can help control the spiciness.
Many hot sauce recipes use carrots as one of the main ingredients after hot peppers or liquids like vinegar, lemon juice, or water. This is often combined with sweet fruits or sugars and many varieties of hot peppers, although habanero are commonly used. Few ingredients can add the thick consistency and solid base without completely overtaking the flavor.
Carrots make a great base
Carrots can make a great base to a hot sauce recipe with the ability to add other flavor profiles. They can be processed until they become sauce form without taking over the flavoring of hot peppers, salts, sugars, or other spices. The final texture after blending carrots is a thick base that accepts the strong seasoning of other ingredients commonly used in hot sauce.
Often the flavor of carrots will be masked by other flavors. It is the consistency they provide and brilliant color that makes them a popular and common ingredient in many hot sauce recipes. There are almost 200 popular hot sauce brands that use a base of carrots to include Torchbearer Zombie Apocalypse, Pain Is Good Habanero Hot Sauce, and El Yucateco Caribbean Hot Sauce.
Carrots can become a sauce before any other ingredients are added. Cooked by some method, carrots become very soft and can be blended quite easily without becoming chunky, unless that is the type of sauce you want to make. Carrots can be blended fresh they will require a longer process and a higher wattage blender.
Carrots are an alkaline-based food so they can balance the acidity of a hot sauce if there are very acidic ingredients used like vinegar. Hot sauce recipes can use acidity to help with preservation but there are other means to preserve a sauce so it doesn’t need to drive the recipe.
Carrots are on the alkaline side of the pH scale between 5 and 6. They can become the base of a hot sauce intended to be alkaline, although this is difficult to achieve. If you have a hot sauce with a high amount of vinegar, which can be as low as 2 pH, carrots can add to the balance and bring the alkaline level up. Because of the ability of carrots to absorb flavoring, this can be done without changing the overall flavor of the hot sauce.
Carrots and habanero
Carrots are often combined with habanero more than any other hot peppers to create hot sauce. They retain the bright orange color but cut the heat slightly if there is a large amount of them used. Blending carrots with a green pepper such as jalapeno could produce a brown unappealing finished color to the hot sauce and may not provide ALL the heat needed.
Carrots also blend well with the fruity flavor of a habanero as well as other sweet flavors of other hot pepper varieties. Consider other hot pepper varieties like scotch bonnet, datil, and fatalli which can have a brilliant yellow color and a fresh fruity flavor to them.
Color has a lot to do with how a hot sauce is perceived by the consumer. For some, it could drive their reason for eating it, trying it for the first time, or purchasing it. Carrots contribute, or are the main reason, for the bright orange color of many hot sauces that use them. This orange color used to be an indication that the sauce was milder than a vibrant red sauce but that may not be true if the sauce uses habanero peppers.
Like any other vegetable, carrots come in many varieties and colors. Yellow, purple, red, and white carrots will also have distinct flavorings to them as well as color. Carrots of these colors and varieties are not used as often as the orange Danvers or Nantes.
Sweetness without sugar
The first thoughts of carrots are not that they are sweet but they can add sweetness to a hot sauce without adding sugar. This sweetness compliments well with other flavor profiles within a hot sauce. The sweetness comes out during any cooking process because the cells breakdown and releases the sucrose
Roasting carrots will bring out the most sweetness because the process draws out the water. Adding sweeteners like brown sugar during the roasting process enhances the process and enriches the flavor of carrots even more. Any significant amount of sweeteners added will need to be included as part of the ingredient list when the mixture becomes hot sauce.
Carrots, like many fruits and vegetables, add nutrients to a hot sauce recipe. Carrots contain a lot of vitamin A as well as, vitamin K, C, and potassium. Although this is not the primary reason for using them and probably not a driving factor in including them in a hot sauce, it is good to know that they don’t produce negative health effects like the addition of some ingredients may.
Carrots can be cooked down
Carrots can be cooked down and their flavor will become richer and more intense. Roasting (heat from all sides) is one of my most favorite processes for carrots but toasting (heat from one side) can produce equivalent results. Carrots can be blended in raw form and cooked down or reduced. This can be done separately or with the other ingredients of a hot sauce recipe.
Caribbean hot sauce
Carrots combine well with pineapples, mango, or papaya to make a Caribbean-style hot sauce. These fruits are strong flavors that still be featured in the sauce without the carrots taking over. Lime juice and other citrus flavors complement the sauce and help keep its bright color.