There are many ways to package and preserve hot sauce but one of the most conventional methods for large quantities is canning. Not all hot sauce recipes use ingredients that create a low pH level and allow the sauce to preserve itself. Some recipes may need a canning process to keep them safe and stable for consumption over long periods, especially if you are making large quantities.
Canning hot sauce consists of making hot sauce, preparing the cannery equipment, sanitizing the jars, and sealing them properly. After the jars are filled and sealed properly, they will have to be stored at room temperature conditions or in refrigerated storage.
Before you begin canning hot sauce there should be consideration into how it is made. You certainly do not want to make a large batch of hot sauce that does not taste very good and spend the time to can it and let it keep for six months. Canning hot sauce should be done once you have established a tasty, tried, and true hot sauce recipe. Even if you have a recipe make sure you have made it a few times in small batches before you make large quantities that need to be canned.
Making hot sauce
The term “canning” means to store a hot sauce in glass jars with a sealed top. Many people that want to can and preserve their hot sauce do so because they have grown an abundance of hot peppers and don’t know what to do with them all. Following a hot sauce recipe to create a delicious and spicy condiment is very easy and makes good use of the peppers without much waste.
Canning a hot sauce can be done with a sauce that uses any ingredient combination that has any type of consistency or is produced with any pH level at the results. If the proper methods of canning are done the sauce will keep on shelves for years. The pressure inside of each jar that the canning process creates seals the lids to allow freshness without spoilage for months.
A hot sauce that has a pH lower than 4.6 does not need to be bottled through a pressure canning process. However, if you are not sure of the acid level of your homemade hot sauce then it should be preserved using hot bath canning methods. Read more here on Understanding Hot Sauce pH. The sauce should be blended, processed, and ready to serve as a finished product before any canning is done. Follow these simple recipes for making delicious hot sauce.
Easy Hot Sauce
Sweet and Heat
Canning is a method of preserving and is done with many different types of fruits, vegetables, sauces, jellies, and other forms of edibles. The methods used for canning hot sauce are very similar no matter what the food source is and all will involve a canner. This is a simple combination of a large pot with a lid and a steel rack with handles for the jars. Some kits also come with rubber tongs for lifting the hot jars out of the boiling water as well as a few other accessories. Some of this equipment can be compromised and other methods can be used but if you have a lot to can then the best equipment should be used.
Complete canning kits like this one from Amazon are very inexpensive and can be used hundreds of times over for preserving both hot peppers and hot sauce. Jars and lids may be sold separately and are the most important part of the kit, especially the lid. It is the process of heating the jars with the contents inside that causes the lids to seal but it needs specialized mason jars with lids to achieve proper preservation. Because the jars are glass and sanitized through the canning process they can be used many times over. However, additional lids will need to be purchased after each use.
Instructions for canning hot sauce
There may be a couple slight tricks to canning hot sauce that can prevent a large batch from getting spoiled and wasting all of your efforts. Many manufacturers of equipment will provide instructions but if you do not have them available follow these simple procedures.
Combining the ingredients is nothing more than putting them together in a mixing bowl and blending them into a sauce. However, some ingredients will need to be prepared first. Remove the stems from the hot peppers and remove the seeds if you wish. The seeds are edible and will not cause any harm if they are consumed. They do produce a significant amount of heat so removing them reduces the heat of the hot sauce and may slightly alter the flavor because seeds can be slightly bitter. However, removing them will take time and effort. If you plan on making hot sauce on a large scale, consider this. Read more here on why it is safe to consume seeds from hot peppers.
Bring to a boil and reduce the heat
Put all of the contents into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Bring to a boil means just that…Let the contents come to a boil and quickly reduce the heat and remove the saucepan completely from the heat source after a couple of minutes. Over-cooking the contents a little is OK but a lot of the flavor, intensity, heat, and nutritional contents will be lost and you will end up with a flavorless hot sauce. Continue to cook the contents on low heat and stir it frequently. The contents will begin to soften but they don’t necessarily need to be soft to blend properly.
Remove the saucepan from the heat with the contents inside and let it cool to room temperature. Room temperature is between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, the exact temperature does not make much of a difference but ingredients that are not boiling or extremely hot are much easier to work with.
Once the ingredients have cooled blend for about 30 seconds or until the contents are mixed completely. A blender with at least 600 watts works best but because the ingredients became soft from cooking they will not need a high-powered professional series blender. However, some food processors are powerful enough to chop but do not have the high speed to mix everything into a sauce. Use your better judgment and examine the sauce to see if it has become smooth to the consistency that you want it.
Add sugar, salt, and vinegar
Put all the blended contents back into the saucepan and add the remaining ingredients to the contents of the saucepan. The consistency or thickness of the sauce can be controlled at this point by how much vinegar, salt, or sugar is added. However, this will also alter the flavor of the sauce. A different variety of vinegar can also be used and this will affect the flavor as well but most kinds of vinegar will provide preservation without canning. Altering the recipe will not affect the canning process or how well the hot sauce will be preserved.
Bring to a boil and stir
Bring all the combined ingredients to a boil again and reduce the heat immediately. The contents only need to be cooked long enough to dissolve the salt and sugar and help permeate the other contents. They will dissolve at cold temperatures but may take a little longer. Cooking is also a way of binding all the ingredients together into one creation…in this case, it is hot sauce.
Prepare a boiling water canner with jars and lids
Careful attention needs to be made when canning hot sauce. You must use new lids that can be sealed properly or the sauce will not be preserved. The right equipment and correct water temperature also needs to be adhered to and this will provide a properly sealed jar.
Pour hot sauce into jars
Leave about ¼ inch of space on top of the jar and gently stir the sauce to remove any air bubbles. There is no science behind putting the sauce into jars, but it is necessary to leave some space at the top and keep the quantity consistent, and looks more professional. Wipe any excess sauce from the top of the jars.
Place the jars in the canner and cover them with water completely. There should be a rack included in your setup so that the water will be surrounding each of the jars completely. Bring the water to a boil, place the lid of the canner on top, and process for about 15 minutes. Remove the canner cover and wait for a few minutes to let everything cool slightly before removing. This process, with the proper jars and lids, removes the air and creates a vacuum seal to preserve the hot sauce. This will be evident by the lid being “sucked in”. Upon opening, there should be a suction sound to indicate the contents have been sealed properly.
Let the jars cool to room temperature
Jars can be handled with mitts but don’t risk the possibility of dropping them with cumbersome oven mitts. Let the jars cool to room temperature before storing them and inspect each one to ensure proper sealing has occurred. Once they have cooled store them either in a dry, cool place or any refrigerated environment. Once the jars are open for consumption, store them in a refrigerator. Canned hot sauce can last for six months or longer in a properly stored environment.