Making your own hot sauce is a lot easier than you might think. The hardest part is finding the right peppers, as there isn’t a large selection in the local supermarket. I’m lucky enough to have Farmer Pappy who grows his own peppers, but if you do not have that luxury, you can always purchase them online. Just keep in mind that the color of the pepper will determine the color of the sauce. So, choose wisely.
The first thing I want to point out is that “hot sauce” is different than “wing sauce.” Hot sauce basically consists of peppers, salt, and vinegar. Wing sauce starts out with hot sauce as a base, then it is mixed with butter and other spices to give it a unique flavor. Today, I’m going to show you how to make a simple hot sauce with different intensities of heat.
Things you will need:
- 1/2 Cup Peppers
- 2/3 Cup Distilled White Vinegar
- 1 3/4 Teaspoons Salt
- Cutting Board
- Blender or Food Processor
- Cooking Pot
- Mid-Sized Bowl
**Safety First** The most important thing that I can stress is to USE GLOVES. Peppers have a natural defense mechanism called Capsaicin which is what makes them HOT! If you do not wear gloves and touch the peppers, it will transfer to anything else you touch. (so do not rub your eyes, or play patty cake while doing this… just saying) Oh and keep your hands above the equator or suffer the consequences. 😉
Step 1. Selecting the pepper
Selecting the right pepper is key as it will not only determine how acidic or sweet the sauce is, but also the level of heat. Most hot sauces are made using the cayenne pepper because it has a great amount of flavor as well as a nice kick of heat. But if you are looking for something with more fire, then go with a pepper that has a higher Scoville unit. A Scoville unit is how a pepper’s heat is measured, and the higher the Scoville, the hotter the pepper. So, take a look at this chart to give you an idea of how hot you wish to go with your sauce.
Step 2. Preparing the pepper
You can use either fresh or dried peppers to make your sauce. For those with dried peppers, the first part of the prep would be to re-hydrate those puppies. Let’s start by adding some water to a pot and bringing it to a boil. While that is going on, we need to wipe down the dry peppers and remove the stems. When the water is ready, pour it into a bowl and drop the peppers in. Try to keep them submerged in the bowl by using a small plate or a spoon, and let them sit and soak for about 15 minutes. Once hydrated, remove the peppers from the bowl and bring them over to the cutting board.
Step 3. Deciding the heat level
How we proceed in this step will determine the level of heat. For a typical medium/mild sauce, take the knife and cut down the length of the pepper to slice it open. Using the edge of the blade, remove all the seeds and the membrane. If you want to make a hotter sauce, leave the seeds and the membrane in. That is where the intense heat of the pepper comes from. The more you leave in, the hotter the sauce will become. For the hottest sauce possible (from the peppers that were chosen) use the whole pepper – seeds and all.
Step 4. Blending the mixture
Now is the time to blend them all together into a wonderful concoction. Mix the peppers, vinegar and salt in the blender or food processor until you get a nice saucy consistency. Once complete, sample the sauce and add additional salt to taste.
Step 5. Cook and strain
Now we need to throw the sauce in a pot and bring to a gentle simmer for a minute while stirring. This will help sterilize the sauce and prevent it from spoiling in the future. We do not want the sauce to boil because all our hard work will start to evaporate. When ready, bring the sauce over to the strainer. This next step is another critical part in the heat development of your sauce. If you want a nice mild sauce, strain immediately. If you want a hotter sauce, bottle the mixture the way it is, let it sit for about a week, and THEN strain. This will allow time for the flavors to develop and help to bring out more of the heat.
Step 6. Bottle your sauce
Once all is said and done, it is time to bottle your sauce. As stated earlier, the longer you let your sauce sit, the more complex the flavors will become. Try to be patient, and give it at least a week. But if you absolutely cannot wait, feel free to dive right in.
So have some fun by adding your own spices, taking it to the next level, and enjoy! Everyone loves a great sauce – so please feel free to comment with your own recipes and ideas!