Hot Sauce Mash
February 20, 2008 7:21 AM   Subscribe

I eat a lot of hot sauce, and I have many favorites which I have no trouble finding or buying. But I think it would be good to make my own. How does one do that properly?

The problem is that my reading on the Internets leads me to the conclusion that the best hot sauces are made using hot pepper "mash" which has been fermented. I know such mash can be purchased ready to go, but that would sort of completely destroy the idea that it was homemade. I need to ferment my own. I've made beer, so I'm not intimidated by vats of fermenting ickor.

But after spending over an hour googling various permutations of "fermented hot pepper mash homemade sauce" I still have no idea how to make a proper pepper mash suitable for some great homemade hot sauce. Some sites indicate something very much like pickling, some suggest following the same process as sauerkraut, some suggest a beer-like fermentation. Recipes are all over the map.

Has anyone done this? Fermented their own chilis for hot sauce? What is the best technique?
posted by Ragma to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Here is a recipe and a good description of techniques:
posted by rmless at 7:28 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've made my own habanero sauce. TWICE. I've used fresh habanero and pickled habanero. No mash...ever.

Here's the difference:

Fresh habanero tastes "ok" as soon as you make it. Pickled habanero tastes "just like real hot sauce" as soon as you make it. BUT...after about a week in the friends couldn't stop eating the sauce I made from the fresh habanero (and fresh peaches).

Just try different stuff. Send me a recipe if you decide to make one w/o mash.

Good luck!
posted by hal_c_on at 7:30 AM on February 20, 2008

I've never fermented hot peppers for hot sauce, but I have made several quarts of hot sauce.

Here is a recipe for Buffalo Wings made from scratch, including making your own sauce. I've made that sauce with a mix of serrano, cherry and habanero peppers--mostly cherry as I grew them that year and had a bumper crop. I've also smoked the peppers (on a grill, silly) ahead of time which adds a nice flavor to the sauce. You can completely control the heat by the balance of peppers as well as the amount of pith/seeds that go into the mix. I found so much difference in the flavor of the sauce came from the mix of peppers. Hot, hot, hot is not always the best in flavor. You might also try a little vanilla or a vanilla pod in the mix - turns out that vanillin and capsaicin are very close molecularly and will hit the same taste receptors.

Oh - wear gloves when you're prepping this - you know that, but someone else reading the comments might not.

You might look for research on the Tabasco methods - it's basically, salt, vinegar and pepper mash and three years in a barrel. In looking for that specifically, I found this exchange which seems very helpful, and this recipe page.
posted by plinth at 7:55 AM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

don't worry about fermenting it. tabasco style sauces are fermented, but that's like drinking bud and saying you like beer. there is a whole world of sauces out there.

throw a bunch of stuff in the blender. taste it. adjust as necessary. i have made a few sauces. they are all good and unique.

find recipes if you like. or not. i don't try to recreate commercial sauces (if i did, it would probably be 'inner beauty' or 'scorned woman'), rather i get inspired and end up where it takes me.

the best part is coming up with a name!
posted by KenManiac at 1:37 PM on February 20, 2008

I would think the best part of a food is the flavor of it. Maybe I'm wrong.

I made hot sauce once, and it tasted pretty good. But I failed to take proper precautions toward capsicum management. The burning only lasted a couple days. Be warned.
posted by gjc at 3:21 PM on February 20, 2008

Okay. So I'm going to use the fermentation method from the link. Sounds like the method is just like sauerkraut.

But I have a follow up question - What is the importance of the wide mouth crock? I'm more familiar with beer and mead brewing than sauerkraut. And for those I'd use a closed vessel with an air lock. Is there a reason that couldn't work here?
posted by Ragma at 7:25 AM on February 21, 2008

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