How do hot sauce companies make their hot sauce? Often people think that it takes a culinary magician to make a batch of Hot Sauce, but actually, 90% of hot sauce makers have the same process including McIlhenny’s Tabasco sauce and Hoy Fong’s Sriracha. The process comes down to 5 basic steps, but depending on the crafter the complexity varies. Here are the 5 steps that even a novice cook can make.
As you may assume the first step starts with the peppers. Different types of peppers are picked based on the Hot Sauce being produced. Popular peppers for hot sauce include the Cayenne pepper, Serrano pepper, jalapeños and habaneros. There are dozens of other peppers or other herbs in sauces and often time they can be paired up or combined to create a taste with a different flavor or heat to it.
Once the peppers are picked, they are blended and salt is added to make a mash. Your small local hot sauce crafter or homemade hot sauce maker may do this will a food processor, while multimillion dollar corporations have machines 20 feet large tall and 10 feet wide processing these peppers into a mash.
Once the mash made it is stored in a barrel or bucket allowing just enough air to allow yeast to grow and the mash to ferment. The fermentation process varies in time, but typically it should last at least 2 weeks. The McIlhenny family has their fermentation process go on for 3 years.
Once the mash is fermented, the mash is put into a mixing tank and vinegar is added. The vinegar will break down the pepper particles and create a more liquid sauce. During the mixing process, the vinegar will take on the flavor and aroma of the peppers. The vinegar acts as a natural preservative so the sauce does not need to be cooked.
The last step before you have your finished product is to drain the mixed sauce to get rid of any pepper seeds and pulp. Homemade hot sauce makers can do this with a strainer while the international hot sauce companies may have a machine that takes out the seeds and pulp separately.
There are many varying ways of going through these steps, but the basics remain constant for 90% of hot sauce companies. The 10% of companies that have different processes often don’t include vinegar in their sauces.