The main ingredient in hot sauce that gives all hot sauce its spice is hot peppers, and these can come in many varieties and forms. Many manufacturers use fresh peppers but using dried peppers can also give similar results. It may be very difficult to determine if a hot sauce is made with fresh or dried peppers just by tasting it but there are some differences in the preparation and processing when making it.
Making hot sauce with fresh peppers vs dried peppers will have only slightly different results in flavor, color, and level of heat. The appearance of a hot sauce made with dried peppers may have large flakes unless the peppers are ground down to a powder form. A hot sauce made with fresh peppers will need to be made within a couple of weeks or before the peppers begin to spoil but dried hot peppers will keep for 6 months or more.
Making hot sauce can be done with many different combinations of ingredients but the first thing to include is some form of hot pepper, either fresh, dried, mashed, ground, flakes, powder, or extract. If you grow your hot peppers you may want to make hot sauce immediately with fresh peppers. If you cannot make hot sauce fast enough drying them and making sauce with dried peppers at another time is also a great option.
Nutrients of fresh peppers vs dried peppers
Hot sauce has become known as a healthy condiment due to the rich nutritional value and low calorie content of the peppers themselves. According to healthline.com hot peppers contain vitamins A, B6, and C as well as potassium and some healing properties that capsaicin can provide. However a study from Colorado State University states that peppers lose much of their nutritional value when they are dried compared to what they offer in their fresh state. Unless you are making hot sauce to specifically concentrate on a health conscience condiment the nutritional contents may not matter. Then what does?
Which method is better?
Neither making hot sauce with dried peppers nor fresh is better than the other and the differences can often depend on the pepper products that you have available. Drying hot peppers to make hot sauce will only give significantly different results to the sauce if the peppers are dried through a smoking process or if spices are added during the drying process. Smoking is one method of drying hot peppers but the drying can also be done by pulling the entire pepper plant, hanging the plants upside down and letting them air dry, or using a dehydrator to remove the moisture. Read more here on 3 Ways To Dry Hot Peppers. Drying is a form of preservation for the hot peppers, but this does not make much of a difference when they become hot sauces.
Does hot sauce last longer with dried peppers?
The shelf life or length that a hot sauce stays fresh depends on the combination of ingredients and not the hot peppers themselves. Hot sauce does not last any longer using dried hot peppers over fresh peppers, even if the dried peppers are reconstituted. Dried peppers by themselves will last longer than fresh peppers because drying is considered a form of preservation. Fresh peppers will be preserved within a hot sauce but only if they are fermented first or mixed with liquids such as vinegar and citrus juice.
Is the same preservative used?
A common ingredient used in hot sauce is vinegar, lemon juice or other citrus juices and these types of ingredients will allow any ingredients to be preserved. Even hot peppers that are dried, which is a method of preservation, will react the same within other liquid ingredients like vinegar or citrus. The acidity of the vinegar keeps the pH level down and prevents bacteria growth from happening.
Differences in making hot sauce with fresh vs dried peppers:
Making hot sauce with either fresh or dried hot peppers certainly has its advantages or disadvantages depending on which method you choose. The results in the end can be the same but some of the preparation and processes for getting there may be different.
Prep peppers for hot sauce
Fresh peppers don’t need much preparation before they become a hot sauce more than removing the stems and seeds. Many times, they do not need to be cut up because they will get blended in a high-speed mixer that will blend them into a sauce. Peppers that are fresh or at peak ripeness will be very soft, contain a lot of water, and can provide a base to accept many other processes needed for making some gourmet hot sauces.
Dried hot peppers need to be reconstituted or soaked in hot water for 30 minutes before they are blended into a hot sauce recipe. This allows for the pepper walls or the “body” or flesh of the hot pepper to be given some life again. The peppers do not “come alive” but become workable. The process of reconstituting the peppers allows them to be blended better and prevents large and inconsistent pepper flakes from appearing throughout the sauce. Neither blending nor processing will prevent this from happening entirely but preprocessing or grinding dried peppers into a powder can.
Grinding dried peppers
Hot peppers that have been completely dehydrated to remove all of the water can then be made into a powder by grinding than in a high-speed grinder until they become fine particles. Any moisture left in the peppers will create clumping and an inconsistent texture during grinding. This could possibly damage a less expensive grinder or an appliance that isn’t equipped to handle grinding dried food products.
For low quantities of peppers, a simple high-speed coffee bean grinder is capable of crushing and grinding dried peppers into a powder. A food grinder, mill grinder or grain grinder will also work and are usually capable of larger quantities at one time. Like blenders, the higher the wattage the more power it will have behind itself for larger quantities or the ability to handle thick-skinned peppers and their seeds.
Because dried hot peppers cannot be fully reconstituted the skins may not get fully blended into the sauce unless they are grinded into a powder first. To prevent this from happening the peppers can be grinded down into a powder form and then sifted to catch any larger flakes before they are made into the sauce. The powder does not necessarily dissolve into the sauce but becomes much more consistent without large flakes being visible. Almost all hot sauce will have small speckles of spices and ingredients visible in the sauce, even with the most powerful blender.
Fresh hot peppers can use many different processes such as fermenting, roasting, smoking, or cooking to enhance the flavor of the peppers. Dried peppers will not accept some of the flavors that these same processes induce into fresh peppers because dried peppers have lost some of the “life” that will absorb these flavors. Dried peppers can be fermented to create a pungent and smoky flavored sauce. See this recipe for Fermented Hot Sauce Using Dried Peppers.
Because dried hot peppers cannot be fully reconstituted the skins may not get fully blended into the sauce. To prevent this from happening the peppers can be grinded down into a powder form and then sifted to catch any larger flakes before they are made into the sauce. The powder does not necessarily dissolve into the sauce but becomes much more consistent without large flakes being visible. Being able to see hot pepper flakes can give a sauce a homemade appeal to it and this can be very common in a hot sauce recipe. Get more Hot Sauce Recipes here.
There can be a slight difference in flavor when using fresh peppers over dried peppers. Fresh peppers will have a “fresh” taste to them or a brightness, crispness, or bitterness but these flavors can be lost within a hot sauce. Dried peppers can have a concentrated and earthy flavor that can permeate into the other ingredients or get enhanced by vinegar and oils.
The only difference in appearance between a hot sauce using dried peppers and one using fresh peppers is that dried peppers can sometimes leave large flakes in the sauce if the dried peppers are ground down into a powder. This will give a give a homemade appearance to the sauce but doesn’t affect the flavor too much because the peppers can permeate into the other ingredients.
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