How to Make Hot Sauce

Making fresh homemade hot sauce from scratch is fun and easy to do in a few steps.

You do not have to be a trained chief or a barbeque pit master to create your own recipes. The process of making sauce will teach you a lot about the sauces you buy and how the ingredients can impact the final flavor. Once you have developed several recipes, you can organize competitions with your friends, aim for the hottest sauce or attempt to recreate your favorite commercial brand. The options are limitless. Just have fun!

Here are the Steps:

    1. Make sure to put on protective gloves when working with chilies. Most chilies contain a high level of capsaicin which can irritate your skin and eyes. This advice holds true whether you’re working with fresh or dried chilies.
    2. Once you have picked out your chilies, it is time to re-hydrate them for use in the recipe. In a bowl, pour boiling water over dried chilies and press down with a spoon to submerge. Soak for 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness. Some chilies plump up more than others when ready, so do not be alarmed if they have slightly papery skin.If you want to tame down the fire, you can remove the ribs and seeds. To deseed the chilies, remove the stem and cut lengthwise with a knife. Start at one end and run the edge of a spoon along the inside of the chili. If you want your sauce hotter, you can leave the seeds. Gather all your ingredients and add them to your blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. If you do not have a blender, a sharp knife will to the job.
    3. Whether you plan on going commercial or just cooking up a mini-batch for your friends and family, it is important to play it safe. Hot sauce ingredients like chilies, veggies and fruits are high in pH and can spoil easily without proper acidification. To prevent the sauce from spoilage and the development of harmful bacteria, it is important to cook the sauce at a proper temperature for a sufficient time so that undesired organisms will be destroyed. Additionally, the pH should be adjusted to below 4.6, preferably below 4.2. Typically, a vinegar-based hot sauce has a pH in the range of 3.0 – 4.0. To acidify a hot sauce, add more vinegar, lime juice or other low-pH substances.
    4. Transfer your pureed sauce to a pan and simmer for 15 minutes. Cooking will help blend the flavors together and sterilize the sauce. Constant stirring will prevent boiling and ensure all ingredients are blended together. Let your hot sauce cool to room temp. For a milder sauce, immediately strain through a fine mesh strainer. For a hotter sauce, leave solids in the sauce for 1-2 weeks, then strain.
    5. After the boil, everything that comes in contact with the sauce needs to be sanitized. One-Step or Star San sanitizers are recommended to ensure a sanitary environment without the need of rinsing. If you do not have cleaner to sanitize your bottles, place the empty bottles (without the cap and dripper insert) in a pot, cover and fill the bottles with water. Bring the water to a boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the bottles using tongs and hold upside down to remove the water. Fill the bottles with your hot sauce to a ½ inch from the top. Attach the dripper insert and screw on the cap.
    6. Your homemade hot sauce will greatly improve with age. The longer the sauce ages, the more complex the flavors will become. We would recommend keeping your hot sauce in the refrigerator for at least one week before using. Your bottled hot sauce should be stored in the refrigerator. Since you may not know the exact pH level and the condition of your ingredients, we cannot guarantee the shelf life of your hot sauce.
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