A season’s crop of freshly grown hot peppers may go to waste if you cannot eat them or use them fast enough. There are methods of preservation such as refrigeration and freezing but this may only keep them edible for a few months. The best thing to do with an overabundance of freshly grown hot peppers is to make hot sauce! Follow this 5-step guide to safely bottle a homemade hot sauce that can be preserved for months.
Bottling hot sauce at home is easy and begins with following a simple recipe of hot peppers and vinegar. Once the sauce is prepared and processed it can then be bottled in fully sanitized containers. It is important to follow the proper sterilization methods for bottles of hot sauce because this will contribute to the longevity or long shelf life of the sauce.
Hot sauce is one of the easiest condiments to make and probably one of the easiest things to produce in the kitchen. For years manufacturers have made hot sauce with only hot peppers and vinegar. Today hot sauce has evolved into rich flavored gourmet sauces using complex processes and ingredients. Follow this simple recipe as a quick guide to making a hot pepper and vinegar-based hot sauce including the proper steps to bottle and store it. Click here for more great Hot Sauce Recipes!
This recipe will make almost 2 full 5-ounce bottles of sauce. It is a very basic recipe and has lots of room to expand by replacing hot peppers, adding ingredients, or replacing some of the other contents. We suggest making this simple recipe in small quantities before increasing the quantity of each ingredient to make larger quantities. These are the essential beginnings of a great traditional hot sauce recipe.
5 HOT PEPPERS – Any variety of peppers will work. Some peppers like poblano are very large and di not have much heat. Others like peri-peri are small and very spicy. Choose a medium size pepper, like jalapeno, cayenne or habanero. Here are the 25 Most Common Hot Peppers Used in Sauce.
½ CUP VINEGER – Distilled white vinegar is one of the more common types although there are many more. Read the nutritional label of your favorite hot sauce for some common vinegar types or try using one that is used as frequently.
2 GARLIC CLOVES – garlic comes in many forms and is a spice that works in a hot sauce, even if it is overused. Minced garlic will not be as fresh but this recipe could substitute 2 cloves with t teaspoon. Get the Hot Sauce Recipe Workbook for other measurement conversions.
¼ TEASPOON SALT – Salt is an essential ingredient in hot sauce but over using it can destroy a recipe. The term “salt to taste” in a recipe means to taste the sauce, and then decide how much salt is needed. Read more on the Positive and Negatives Effects of Salt in a Hot Sauce and get more directions on using other ingredients in Hot Sauce Recipes.
1. Making the sauce
Making hot sauce is one of the easiest recipes to accomplish in the kitchen and it will produce amazingly flavorful results. Following a recipe is important to get good results but some things need to be done during the process of making hot sauce that will directly reflect how it is bottled.
The short list of ingredients above is almost essential minus the use of garlic. But don’t leave it out unless you have an allergic reaction, just don’t like it, or cannot get a hold of any. Garlic is such a complimentary ingredient in many hot sauces and using it or not will not reflect the longevity of the sauce. Garlic comes in many different forms such as minced, powder, fresh, pickled, roasted, and dried and each variation can produce slightly different flavors in the sauce.
The recipe above calls for fresh garlic cloves because they tend to have the strongest and most pungent flavor. Minced garlic will get the same results but may be difficult to measure in comparison to fresh cloves. Other forms of garlic such as pickled or roasted will add a slightly different flavor to the hot sauce but neither form will have such an influence on the bottling process as vinegar.
Vinegar is another essential ingredient to hot sauce along with the hot peppers and is directly responsible for preserving a hot sauce after it is bottled. Like many ingredients in hot sauce, vinegar also comes in many different flavors and varieties. Using distilled white vinegar in the recipe above will give a classic flavor to a hot sauce recipe. Other contemporary hot sauces use apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar to give them a unique flavor.
Interchanging the type of vinegar in a hot sauce will alter the flavor and the pH level but if you follow the quantity in the recipe it will still provide the low acidic level needed for preservation. All vinegar types will provide preserving qualities in a hot sauce. This is important to know for bottling and preservation purposes. Storing conditions are important but unless the sauce itself provides some preservation your storing methods may need to be altered.
2. Processing the sauce
Almost all hot sauce goes through some type of processing before it is bottled whether it is simply blending, cooking, or fermenting. This can make a difference in how quickly you can make a hot sauce and how long hot sauce will last. Hot sauce made with fresh ingredients, without any preservatives will have a slightly different pH level and have a short shelf life but can be made in just a few minutes. A fermented hot sauce can takes years to produce (Read What You Don’t Know About Tabasco) but can have a much lower pH level that allows for preservation.
A hot sauce with a pH level below 4.6 can be bottled without refrigeration, hot filling, or canning processes and be safe for consumption for months. The recipe above using vinegar will create a sauce with a pH low enough to go directly into a bottle. Other combinations of ingredients or processes may not. Read more here on Understanding Hot Sauce pH and Why the pH of Hot Sauce is Important.
There are essentially seven different processes or combinations of processes that can be done to the ingredients to make and bottle your hot sauce. Cooking, roasting, toasting, fermenting. Each process can take slightly longer than the next and can influence how it is bottled. Some hot sauces can be bottled hot or warm whereas others like fermenting don’t need any heat and shouldn’t have heat applied when bottling. Learn more about each process in the Hot Sauce Recipe Workbook.
Bottling hot sauce once it has been made seems easy…just dump it into bottles right? Well that may be true there are a few things to know that will keep your sauce fresh, edible, and appealing. Don’t get stuck with gallons of hot sauce without knowing how or where to store.
There are many bottle types available for hot sauce for storing purposes for presentation. Many are packaged in 5, 10, or 12-ounce woozy bottles or hot sauce condiment bottles. This is an instantly recognizable bottle shape for hot sauce and will be the least expensive. Many contemporary hot sauce manufacturers use customized bottles and this can get very expensive if you plan on marketing your homemade hot sauce. Check out Choose a Bottle Type To Give Your Hot Sauce Character for more information on customizing bottles.
Obtaining or purchasing bottles for hot sauce can be done in several different ways. Purchasing bottles in bulk will be a large upfront expense but there will be significant savings overall. Purchasing a case or two of bottles will have a higher cost per bottle but can doesn’t require a large cost upfront. Purchase a selection of 36 – 5oz woozy bottles from Amazon here. For long-term storage of hot sauce, glass bottles will work best but many commercial manufacturers use plastic as well. Plastic bottles will need to be sanitized differently without the use of extremely hot water because the plastic could become deformed.
Dirty or un-sanitized bottles can allow bacterial growth even if you have put in the efforts to create a sauce with a lower pH or have properly sealed the top. There are several methods to ensure the bottles are properly cleansed or sanitized before filling them with hot sauce.
Any hot sauce intended to be stored for more than a couple of days and not consumed immediately should be hermetically sealed to prevent air from entering the bottle and causing bacterial growth. An induction sealer places a small circular closure on top of the glass woozy bottle before it is capped. This goes underneath the cap and does not need any further seal, shrink wrap, or tamper-resistant top. A un opened hot sauce with a pH below 4.6 can be edible for years but a hot sauce that has been open for consumption could show signs of bacterial growth sooner.
Labeling a hot sauce is just as important as sanitizing and sealing bottles, especially if you are making sauce regularly. Handmade labels can provide a reference for what is inside as well as when the sauce was made. Dating a hot sauce can give a quick reference to how fresh it may be. A label can be as simple as a piece of tape with handwritten dates or a printed sticker with elaborate designs. Nutritional Labels provide your sauce with a professional look or information for anyone that will be consuming it.
Storing seems even easier than bottling…just leave it in a dry cool place! If you are making large quantities of sauce having the proper space and environment for storage is just as important as the correct bottling procedures. Improper storage could ruin a freshly made batch of hot sauce.
Hot sauce can be stored in a refrigerator but does not need to be, even if it is opened. This is assuming the hot sauce has a pH lower than 4.6. However, refrigeration will certainly slow down the growth of bacteria but can become costly over time. Here’s Your Answers To Refrigerating a Hot Sauce so be cautious if you are making a sauce that requires refrigerating.
A kitchen pantry is OK for storing hot sauce if the pH of the hot sauce is low enough to allow for preserving and the conditions within the pantry are right. The storing temperature of a pantry should be between 68 and 72 degrees or room temperature. Anything outside of these temperatures could affect the longevity of the sauce even if the hot sauce has a low pH.
MORE…Hot Sauce Recipes!
Get 50 delicious and original Hot Sauce Recipes here from Amazon! Each recipes has a simple list of ingredients and includes steps for simple processes that anyone can make. OR Learn to make your own unique hot sauces with the Hot Sauce Recipe Workbook. The workbook will guide you through create original and tasty hot sauces and guide you to becoming a hot sauce chef! Get it HERE!
Hot Sauce Recipes
Hot Sauce Recipe Workbook