According to “The Hot Sauce Bible”, hot sauce has been around since for a very long time. Bottles of hot sauce have been found on archaeological digs and on shipwrecks that have been recovered. Man has been eating hot sauce since he first discovered the chile pepper it appears.
There have been reports of advertisements appearing in newspapers in the U.S. as early as 1807. The first mass produced hot sauce in America was the brand name Tabasco®, made by the Edmund McIlhenny family. While the word Tabasco actually refers to an area in Mexico, the McIlhenny family trademarked the word. Other hot sauces can say that they are made of Tabasco peppers, but they can’t use the word in their names.
Hot sauces are basically made of peppers, vinegar and salt. Before making your own hot sauce, which is simple to do, you should first decide how hot you want your peppers to be. Chile peppers get their heat from capsaicin, which is a component found in the peppers. It is usually contained in the membranes of the peppers and it is especially concentrated in the pith of the pepper seed, although not in the seed itself. Peppers and hot sauces are rated by heat on the Scoville scale in Scoville Heat Units, commonly known as the SHU. The measurement of a pepper is reached by measuring how much water is needed to dilute the heat from the pepper.
SHU Rating for Common Chile Peppers:
Bell peppers – 0 SHU
Jalapeno peppers, Mirasol, Chipotle, Poblano – 5,000 SHU
Serrano peppers – 15,000 SHU
Tabasco peppers, Aji, Cayenne – 30,000 SHU
Pequin peppers – 75,000 SHU
Scotch bonnet habanero, Jamaican Hot – 200,000 SHU
Red Seville habanero – 450,000 SHU
Bhut jolokia – 1,000,000 SHU
Now that you’ve picked your pepper, you’re ready to make your first hot sauce.
Note: ALWAYS wear gloves when cleaning or handling hot peppers, always wash your hands afterwards, and NEVER touch your eyes when handling the peppers.
Basic Hot Sauce:
3 cups of distilled white vinegar
2 lbs of cayenne or jalapenos seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons of salt
1. Simmer all ingredients together for about 10 minutes.
2. Cool for 20 minutes, then blend together in a blender.
3. Pour into a glass jar, seal tightly, then place in the back of a dark pantry or cabinet.
4. Age for three months.
5. Strain and use.
Yes, it takes time and patience for this hot sauce, but once you taste this sauce, it’s doubtful you’ll ever want to buy another hot sauce again. Also, if you like a hotter pepper, try adding a few habanero peppers into the mix.
For those who are wanting their homemade hot sauce fix just a bit faster, here is a recipe that can be made and is ready in just about an hour.
Homemade Hot Sauce:
6 cloves of minced garlic
1 and 1/2 cups diced onion
4 cups diced tomatoes
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 medium chili peppers
6 habanero peppers, seeded
1 and 1/2 cups of distilled white vinegar
3 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons white sugar
1. Over medium heat in a large saucepan, heat oil and add the onion, chili peppers, habanero peppers and garlic. Stirring continuously, cook until the onions begin to brown.
2. Reduce heat to low. Add the vinegar, tomatoes, salt and sugar. Stir until the tomatoes break down, then simmer an additional 10-15 minutes.
3. Place mixture in blender and blend on low until a puree is formed.
4. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve or strain through a small colander.
5. Let mixture cool for an hour.
Once you’ve become comfortable making your own hot sauce, experiment and expand. For a tropical style hot sauce like those found in Hawaii or the Philippines, chop and add a mango and some lime juice.