Traditionally, hot pepper sauces have been made by fermenting a mash of chopped up peppers. Many of the world’s best known and most loved hot sauces are lacto-fermented before bottling, including Tabasco and sriracha. For the last few years I have had a lot of fun making my own hot sauces. Once you understand the basics, it’s easy to do and a great way to preserve the flavor of homegrown peppers. It’s also fun to experiment and make your own one-of-a-kind sauces. Like my Hot Happy Yummy Sriracha, for instance.
Since discovering the rogue pepper I am currently calling Hot Happy Yummy back in 2009, I have found a lot of different uses for it. And my favorite one is making hot sauce. Last week I used some of these ripe orange peppers plus some of our homegrown garlic to make my Homemade Sriracha Style Hot Sauce. This sauce ferments for about four days before you cook it briefly, strain it, and bottle. I love Sriracha sauce, and I’ll make some more when I have enough red ripe jalapenos for a batch.
Next I started two batches of Basic Fermented Hot Sauce. This recipe calls for peppers, salt, and time. You can let it ferment anywhere from one to four weeks, or even longer if you have the patience. I made one batch with red ripe Aji Angelo peppers. This Capsicum baccatum variety has a unique flavor and medium heat, and I thought it would make a great tasting hot sauce. I like to remove the stem but leave the green ‘cap’ on the peppers before chopping them up. It is said to add a little extra flavor to the finished hot sauce.
For the other batch I used a mix of ripe cayenne and serrano peppers. I let both batches ferment on the kitchen counter for nine days before I added the vinegar then strained and bottled them. I press on the strainer with the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much of the juice as I can. With these two sauces I got almost five ounces each. If you like your sauce thicker, you can blend it up in the blender without straining or if you like it chunky then bottle it up without straining or blending. It’s all good, and the best thing is you get to make it exactly like you like it!
You can use any variety of peppers you have on hand, from mild to extra hot, and everything in between. The orange Sriracha proves you don’t have to use red peppers either. I made a Green Jalapeno Sauce back in 2012. And I’m going to try and make one this year with red, orange and yellow C. chinense peppers that are milder versions of the hot Habeneros. The possibilities are endless. And you don’t need to grow your own peppers either. You can often find all different kinds of hot peppers at farmer’s markets or at ethnic grocery stores.
The fermented hot sauces keep for a long time in the refrigerator. The folks who make Tabasco say their red sauce keeps for 5 years whether opened or unopened, refrigerated or not, but that it is “best by” the third year. As a matter of preference I like to keep my hot sauces refrigerated, and use them within one year of making. And what do I use them for? They go on and in lots of things, from baked potatoes and barbeque sauce to scrambled eggs and frittatas. You can see the three hot sauces I made all bottled up in the below photo, along with the lovely labels my wife made for me! I left the middle one unlabeled so you can see the pretty red color of the hot sauce inside.
Homemade hot sauces make great gifts for family and friends too. The basic recipes can easily be scaled up to make extra for giving away. Whether you like your hot sauce mild or prefer it to be mouth-blistering hot, making your own is a fun way to be creative with peppers. So how about you all, have you ever made your own hot sauce? Or perhaps you will give it a try after reading this. Either way, let me know – I’d love to hear about it!
For more information on making your own hot sauces:
- Homemade Sriracha Style Hot Sauce
- Basic Fermented Hot Sauce
- Have Fun, Save Money: Make Your Own Hot Sauce (Mother Earth News)
- Fermented Hot Chili Sauce Recipe (Nourished Kitchen)
- Sriracha Chili Sauce Recipe (Viet World Kitchen)