Making hot sauce at home is one of the easiest recipes to follow. Producing delicious and spicy sauce to enjoy at any gathering is as easy as combining blended hot peppers with liquid. Many times the type of sauce that you make can be determined by what you intend to use it for. Nowadays there are many variations of a hot sauce and how they may be used to spice up your meal.
Hot sauce is made with hot peppers, vinegar, and spices. Many gourmet hot sauce recipes combine many other rare ingredients but this can involve a lengthy process making sauce at home. Homemade hot sauce can be stored in any type of container but it will not last as long as commercial sauces because it is typically made without preservatives.
Hot peppers make up most of the hot sauce contents
Hot peppers are the main ingredient in any homemade hot sauce…or at least they should be. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from but the Most Commonly Used Hot Peppers to make hot sauce are Jalapeno, Cayenne, Habanero, and Ghost. This is due to the availability as well as the popularity of these types of peppers. What’s great about making a homemade hot sauce is despite the type of pepper it is all made the same way. The same recipe can be used but replacing the peppers may make a hotter or milder sauce depending on the hot pepper. The other ingredients can contribute significantly to the flavor of the sauce. Read more here on The Secrets of Great Hot Sauce or purchase Hot Sauce Recipes as an instant download here or as a paperback from Amazon here!
Other ingredients in hot sauce are important
Hot peppers are the main ingredient in any homemade hot sauce but unique and interesting flavors can be achieved with combinations of other ingredients as well. Another Commonly Used Hot Sauce Ingredient is a type of liquid to thin out the consistency of blended peppers. These liquids are usually vinegar, citrus juice, or water. Liquid added to a hot sauce will determine how it tastes as well as how it is preserved. Adding water can simply thin out the consistency of a hot sauce and diminish the pungency or flavor as well. Some water is OK but adding too much can make an undesirable hot sauce. Most homemade hot sauce use vinegar as the second ingredient.
Using vinegar in a hot sauce
Vinegar combined with blended hot peppers will give hot sauce its classic tangy flavor. Some hot sauces are known for being a vinegar-based sauce including one of the most popular and oldest hot sauces Tabasco®. Others use liquids such as citrus juice that also preserve the hot sauce but can alter the flavor significantly. Distilled White Vinegar is the most common type to use in a homemade hot sauce but read more on 9 Vinegar Substitutes here. Click this link for the quick purchase from Amazon.
There are many varieties of vinegar but only about 10 to 12 are commonly used for hot sauce. Some varieties of vinegar can dominate the flavor and consistency of a hot sauce and cover the flavor or heat of a hot pepper. Although vinegar was used traditionally as a preservative for hot sauce its pungency and sourness now lends itself to the signature flavor of a hot sauce. The variations can alter the flavor of a hot sauce and also slightly diminish how well it is preserved. Vinegar is a preservative and gives any hot sauce it is added to the ability to extend it’s freshness. Adding it to a hot sauce will reduce the pH level of a hot sauce to make it edible for six months or longer if it is unopened. Read more on the Importance of pH in Hot Sauce.
Vinegar by itself has a pH level of about just over 2 pH. Hot peppers are considered alkaline on the pH scale and will therefore work against lowering the pH when mixed with vinegar. Generally speaking, you will want the pH below 4.6 to kill any harmful bacteria that could develop through long storage periods. Citrus juice like lemon and lime juice can also lower the pH of a hot sauce to safe consumption levels.
Citrus juice is a great vinegar substitute
There are many citrus fruit juices available for making hot sauce but the most commonly used ones for making a homemade hot sauce are lemon or lime juice. These are often also combined with many different types of vinegar as well. The sourness of citrus juice complements well with the pungency and flavor of hot peppers. Many hot peppers also have a flavoring to them aside from the heat they deliver. Some can have fruity, bitter, or floral notes to them, and then added vinegar can enhance or complement this flavor. This is the same concept as to why many marinades are vinegar-based. However, some of these flavors can get lost by adding too many other ingredients to hot sauce.
Other ingredients in hot sauce
Other ingredients used in a homemade hot sauce recipe are garlic, salt, and spices. These have been common ingredients since hot sauce became a condiment nearly 200 years ago and are still used regularly in many popular sauces. Contemporary sauces are now using unique and exotic ingredients to create hot sauce flavors that stand out among the others. However, the process of combining many ingredients may be beyond a simple homemade hot sauce recipe. Find unique and original hot sauce recipes here.
Using too many ingredient combinations can hide or conceal the reason for making a hot sauce and many ingredient combinations may get lost within the sauce if they do not have a bold flavor. Combining ingredients with different flavor profiles such as hot peppers (spice), vinegar (sour), and salt (salty) can make these individual flavors stand out more.
Equipment, Ingredients, Directions
Having the right equipment for anything you do in the kitchen is very important. However, making hot sauce require very few kitchen utensils and appliances, making it very easy to produce. The most essential piece of equipment for making hot sauce is a blender. Some say this is all you need. Other utensils for preparing hot peppers will include, knives, cutting boards and a couple pots and pans. Read more here on the type of blender that works best or check out the Blender Buyer Guide.
1 Cup Hot Peppers
1/2 Cup Vinegar
3 Garlic Cloves
Dash of salt
Preparing the ingredients in any homemade hot sauce is very easy and begins with the hot peppers themselves. In general, making hot sauce takes very little prep work and relies more on the ingredients and the process.
Handling hot peppers
Anytime a hot pepper is cut open juice from the peppers can be secreted and it is this juice that can irritate any area of the body that it comes in contact with. The hotter the pepper the more that it can irritate the skin. Holding the pepper by the stem or wearing gloves can ensure that none of the interior walls of the pepper is touched by the bare skin.
Step 1 – Prep
- Cut the stems off the hot peppers and remove the seeds if desired. The seeds of hot peppers are edible and contribute a lot of the heat and spiciness of hot sauce. They can be bitter in flavor but will blend into the sauce and go unnoticed if you are using a blender of 600 watts or more.
- Remove the skin from the garlic. The exposed end root of the garlic can be cut off or left on. It is a little fibrous but shouldn’t be noticed in the consistency of the hot sauce. The flavor of the end root still has a mild garlic flavor as well.
Step 2 – Blend
- Place the hot peppers and garlic in a blender and mix on high for about 10 – 15 seconds or until the ingredients become mixed. Most blenders will have enough power to blend hot peppers and garlic into a sauce even before they are cooked or processed. Food processors with a power wattage below 600 may still leave the ingredients a thick or chunky consistency.
- Add vinegar and blend again for about 30 seconds. Blending the ingredients of hot sauce is NOT an art. Adding more vinegar to smooth out the consistency is easy but you may not have more hot peppers at your disposal to thicken it so add only small amounts of vinegar at a time.
Step 3 – Cook
A process such as cooking hot peppers can reduce the amount of liquid and intensify the flavor of a hot sauce. Some other processes like roasting can change or enhance flavors significantly. Over processing a hot sauce will decrease the heat or pungency of the sauce as well.
- Add the blended sauce into a saucepan and bring the contents to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for 3 to 4 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken.
- Continue to stir the sauce on a low level of heat so that it does not stick to the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and let the sauce cool to a room temperature of about 68 to 72 degrees. Some commercial sauces are bottled when they are hot to kill bacteria that can grow in the bottles but the pH of this hot sauce recipe creates an environment safe for consumption.
Step 4 – Bottle
Hot sauce can be put into many different types of containers but some work better than others if you are planning long-term storage. Traditionally hot sauce is bottled into glass woozy bottles similar in shape to a ketchup bottle but the homemade hot sauce can be put into many different types of containers.
If the sauce is being served with a meal an open bowl and spoon work excellent. This will provide easy serving and will exhibit the appealing color and texture of the sauce. However, woozy bottles are very inexpensive and make a homemade hot sauce instantly recognizable as an delicious condiment. Get our recommendation for woozy bottles here from Amazon.