archive

Proud Member

DIY Tabasco, Sriracha and Texas Pete: Making Homemade Pepper Sauces

What do you think about xanthum gum?

After months of experiments with fermentation and pepper processing, I am making Louisiana and Sriracha style pepper sauces at home that taste better than the stuff you buy in the store. Rice vinegar, Steen’s cane vinegar, and Spanish sherry vinegar are a huge improvement over the distilled white vinegar the big boys use. Of course, if you really want to make a pepper sauce that tastes just like one you buy in a bottle, you can use the clear stuff too.

Trade secret numero uno is the ripeness of the peppers. I noticed that many hot sauce makers mention their “sun-ripened peppers.” I eventually realized that the best way to soften the peppers for a richer puree is to buy them very ripe and then leave them out in the summer sun for a couple of days.

My first few batches of peppers were fermented for a week. The last batch fermented for two weeks. The difference was slight, but the peppers were softer and the mash tasted richer. Tabasco claims they once fermented peppers in oak barrels on Avery Island for three years. I believe that most pepper sauce manufacturers now buy peppers in Latin America where they are mixed with salt, turned into mash, and put into plastic barrels for shipping. And I doubt any manufacturer is fermenting for years anymore.

Buying a Vitamix blender was the expensive solution to all my processing problems. After months of putting the fermented pepper mash and vinegar through a coarse strainer and pushing it with a wooden spoon to extract the pepper solids, I gave up and bought the high power blender. My friends have been telling me I needed one of these things for several years now. I had to change the fermenting recipe to accomadate the equipment change though. The Vitamix turns the pepper seeds into an annoying grit. So to avoid that problem, I am now removing the seeds before I start fermenting.

If you ferment seedless “sun-ripened” peppers for a couple of weeks, then put the peppers and the brine in the Vitamix and turn it on full blast for a minute or two, you have a smooth pepper mash puree that can be mixed with vinegar without any straining. Then you can make a homemade pepper sauce that’s as thick as anything on the market. I could even keep the pepper solids perfectly suspended in the vinegar if I added a little xanthum gum.

Tabasco and Frank’s RedHot Pepper Sauces don’t contain any xanthum gum, but Sriracha and Texas Pete do. I bought some at the store the other day, but I haven’t open the package yet.

Do you think it’s worth it?

9 comments to DIY Tabasco, Sriracha and Texas Pete: Making Homemade Pepper Sauces

  • Ben

    I’ve been reading your articles about making the pepper sauce and have wanted to try it. In fact, my hands are still burning from chopping a pound of peppers.

    Do you normally add onions and garlic to the fermentation?

    What does the Steen’s cane vinegar offer that rice wine vinegar doesn’t? I am unfamiliar with the that Louisiana vinegar.

    Very interesting articles and look forward to seeing more.

  • Cathy

    Now that I’ve seen the pictures, I follow what you said at Tacambaro this morning. I had watermelon rind pickles next on my list of things to make, but I’ll add hot sauce too. thanks for the introduction today.

  • Rehema

    How about running your fermented peppers through a Foley food mill (with our without subsequent Vitamixing)? That would save your fingertips/nose/eyes from the hazards of seeding.

  • robbwalsh

    Rehema-I am going to try the food mill. But after a three week fermentation, I am discovering that the seeds are falling off the peppers in the jar and floating around in the brine. I am thinking maybe I can agitate the peppers to get all the seeds loose and then strain them out.

    Ben-I have tried fermenting the garlic and other stuff with the peppers, but I find the mash develops off flavors in a couple of weeks that way. If you ferment just peppers, the mash will keep for a long time. It’s also more practical–you can add vinegar to make pepper sauce or blend a little bit of mash with garlic and sugar dissolved in vinegar to make Sriracha sauce.

    Steen’s has a nice residual cane sugar flavor and dark brown color. Check to see if your rice wine vinegar contains corn syrup.

  • Dusty

    You all are correct about the sauces. I just chop, salt,1 1/2 tspn. per cup of peppers and ferment in glass jar four months with oak chunks in the jar. Makes a difference. Blend and strain after fermentation add vinigar and garlic. Sit back the rest of the winter, eat chicken, brisket and ribs with my sauce watch football drink beer and live the bitch in life.

  • Dusty

    You all are correct about the sauces. I just chop, salt,1 1/2 tspn. per cup of peppers and ferment in glass jar four months with oak chunks in the jar. Makes a difference. Blend and strain after fermentation add vinigar and garlic. Sit back the rest of the winter, eat chicken, brisket and ribs with my sauce watch football drink beer and live the bitch’in life.

  • Mike

    Hey Robb-
    Really like the new Hot Sauce book. I currently have two batches of fermenting red New Mexico peppers bubbling away. I threw a couple of Scotch Bonnets in one batch to see what would happen. In your experimentation/research, did you ever try balsamic vinegar? Would the sweetness overpower the heat of the peppers?
    mike….

  • mimi

    I bought your book because I live on my boyfriend’s farm and he doesn’t manage to sell all the hot peppers he grows and I wanted to turn them into hot sauce!!!!
    I am trying my first batch, there’s mold that keeps on forming on the top of my Mason jar. Is it safe to just scoop it out and keep going or should I just scrap the batch and start again?

  • Bob V

    Robb, I got your book as a Christmas present and couldn’t wait to try it. Not being able to get ripe peppers in the Northeast in winter,I got some green Serreno peppers and set them in the sun inside the house till they turned red and wrinkled. I processed then acording to the recipe in the book,letting them ferment for two weeks. The problem is they don’t have what I would call “heat” and the mash is so salty it’s unedible. What do you think went wrong? Peppers? too much salt? Got me stumped.

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>