Making your own hot sauce at home can be a rewarding hobby, and one that is fairly simple to start, too. As a homebrewer, you probably have most of the equipment already! If hot sauce is your thing, or you are just looking for something to do while your latest batch of beer is boiling away, you might consider trying your hand at hot sauce making.
Hot Sauce is, at it’s core, pretty simple. You have a liquid, and you have peppers. Combine them together and bam! - instant hot sauce. But that’s like saying beer is just water, hops, barley, and yeast. There’s so much more to homemade hot sauce than “liquid and peppers”. First off, you have to know what type of hot sauce you are going to make. There are probably as many different styles of sauce as there are peppers to use in them. Here are just a few:
Now that we have a style pinned down, let’s figure out how we are going to assemble our sauce. Will we be using fresh peppers or fermented? Or how about a mix of both? Since we are homebrewers, let’s talk about fermenting our peppers and making a Louisiana-style sauce.
For 2 cups of hot sauce, you’ll need the following:
Chop the peppers, either in a food processor or by hand, and pack them into the container you will be fermenting in. You can use a mason jar or get fancy and pick up a container with a membrane, such as the E-Jen container typically used for Kim chi. If you are using a jar, fill the jar with your pepper “mash” until about an inch below the top. Next, mix 1 quart of water with 3 tablespoons of salt and pour your brine over the mash until it just covers all the peppers. Covered peppers are a good thing, and will prevent spoilage. Spoilage is bad.
Now stach your tiny carboy of a mason jar at room temp, away from the sunlight, for one to two weeks. This ferment is a lactic acid ferment, and will break down the walls of our peppers and make everything soupy. With fermentation comes gas, so be sure to come back and burp the lid every day to let off some of those gasses, or you can rig up an airlock system and put some of that homebrewing equipment to good use.
After about two weeks, you should be done fermenting, your brine should be a bit cloudy, and taste acidic. Empty the contents into a pot, add the vinegar, and bring to a boil. Once you reach a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 min. Allow your sauce to cool a bit, and then pour it all in a food processor and hit it until it’s smooth. That’s it! If you want to store your sauce, you want your pH to be at 4.0 or lower. This is where your homebrewing pH meter comes in handy. If your pH is too high, add more vinegar. Once everything is in balance, you can strain it and get it chunk-and-seed-free, or let it live it’s best life - totally up to you!
This is by no means the only way to make hot sauce at home, but if it has peaked your interests, do some Googling (or Binging) and get a feel for how other folks do it.
Let’s say we’re gonna give this sauce away as gifts. Well, we need to bottle it up and make it look nice, right? And nothing makes bottles look nicer than custom labels! We have many sizes of labels to fit pretty much any size container you choose. If you opt for the classic 5oz. bottles like Tabasco, then our MiniTags are the best bet, coming in at a space-saving 1” x 3” design. There’s plenty of room to label your hot sauce, and still have room to add a logo or other artwork. If you are using a larger format bottle - or perhaps a mason jar - our Basic Labels could be a great choice. They are 2.5” x 3.5”, and are a great way to list your ingredients, brand your hot sauce, and issue any potential warnings that the uninitiated hot sauce consumer might need to read.
That’s all there is to it! If you want more information on making hot sauce at home, check out Chili Pepper Madness. It’s a great site full of information to get you making the best hot sauces you can.