Did you know that January 22 is National Hot Sauce Day?
The use of hot sauce has been traced back thousands of years originating in South America. Chili peppers are believed to be the first peppers used to make hot sauce. At this time, hot sauce was a combination of chili peppers and water. When European conquerors arrived in South America, they brought the chili peppers back to Europe.(1)
The popularity of hot sauce then spread throughout the world. Nowadays, hot sauce is a combination of peppers of many different kinds, vinegar, and salt.(2) Different types of hot sauces can be found based on where in the world they originate from. You can even find specialty hot sauces with fruity elements added in.(3)
The peppers in hot sauce have a chemical compound called capsaicin. This compound causes a burning sensation on the mucous membranes, meaning that when you eat it you may notice a tingling sensation in your mouth. The spiciness of these peppers gives rise to the Scoville Scale, which measures the hotness of peppers.(4) This scale was developed by a pharmacist named Wilbur Scolville and it uses Scoville heat units (SHU) to measure the ‘hotness’ of a pepper. According to the Scoville scale, sweet bell peppers have 0 SHUs, a jalapeño has 2500-8000, a habanero has 350 000 - 500 000, and a carolina reaper pepper has over a million SHUs.3
There are many ways to make your own hot sauce. It is traditionally made by fermenting the peppers and then blending them with vinegar.(5) Fermenting the peppers first gives your hot sauce a tangy flavour, however, you can also make hot sauce without fermenting first. Making your own hot sauce allows you to make it as mild or as hot as you can handle. You can make it a combination of sweet and hot peppers for a more mild hot sauce, or use only hot peppers to set your taste buds on fire!
Simple Homemade Hot Sauce
20 peppers of choice based on desired level of heat
1 cup water
1 cup white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or rice wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
1. Cut the tops of your peppers and slice crosswise into ⅛ inch slices.
2. In a saucepan, combine the water, vinegar, peppers, salt, and garlic. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until peppers are soft (ten minutes).
3. Pour the mixture into a blender and blend until liquified.
4. Add additional heat if desired.
Pepperscale — Who Invented Hot Sauce? https://www.pepperscale.com/who-invented-hot-sauce/
Food History — The History of Hot Sauce https://kitchenproject.com/history/HotSauce/index.htm
WebstaurantStore — All About Hot Sauce https://www.webstaurantstore.com/blog/2376/hot-sauce-facts.html
U.S. Pharmacist — Capsaicin: Risks and Benefits https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/capsaicin-risks-and-benefits
Wholefully —How to Make Your Own Hot Sauce (Fermented or Quick Cook) https://wholefully.com/homemade-hot-sauce-recipe/