There’s nothing quite like the vibrant colors of freshly harvested peppers glistening out in the sun. A pepper harvest tradition that started with 150 habanero and ghost peppers in my parent's garden in 2014 has steadily evolved into over 900 pounds of locally harvested organic peppers in 2020.
Locally grown food is a special, delicate gift, and I feel grateful to have it in abundance this year, especially as we’ve seen fires devastate the west and destroy so many crops that farmers work so hard to produce.
My hot sauce company, Craic Sauce, has seen steady growth since I devoted all my working time and energy to hot sauce. A month ago I planned to source four times the amount of produce during harvest season compared to last year.
Towards the end of the New England harvest season, we wash, chop, and freeze our peppers that go into our fresh hot sauces, and then create a chilli mash that ages for our fermented hot sauces.
What I market as the “Pepper Party” kicked off last Saturday at 9 am with jalapeño and serrano peppers as the first to de-stem, wash and chop.
We had a group of volunteers helping out, ranging from lifelong friends and family, as well as a couple folks we’ve met at farmers markets that were interested in going behind the scenes of our hot sauce production.
It was great craic as we chopped peppers Saturday, heard about travels and stories from guests, sang Happy Birthday to my Mom (not once but twice!), and had some really funny conversations, especially when we all went a little insane six hours in!
As the sun began to fade, we finished prepping all 450 pounds of the fresh produce and put them into freezers to later use for our 40 Shades of Green Chilli and Golden Pumpkin Sauce.
The next day, Sunday, was one of the biggest underestimations of my life. What I thought would take 4 hours of work to make 85 gallons of fermented chili mash ended up taking me 14 hours.
I learned if you’re making a fermented mash with fresh beets, onions, garlic, carrots, and peppers that need to be peeled and washed, it’s a rather linear equation of weight and time! And also don't put your face near the bucket when you blend, because the mash will 100% land in your eye 👀 🔥
It was around hour 10 of using the immersion stick to blend the mash when my biceps began cramping up and my hands started to get blisters. I thought that this is the time when you’re supposed to ask yourself, “Why the f- am I doing this?”
But at that moment in time, I felt like I was in a trance, clawing towards the finish line of an epic weekend which I could later look back on and laugh and appreciate: that crazy weekend with the Craic Crew!
We got it all done around midnight! It wasn’t until the next day that I actually pondered the question “Why am I doing this?”
I've found after interviewing hot sauce makers all over the world that it's different for everyone. And the why evolves over time.
But for me, it’s the thrill of riding the wave of entrepreneurship, the unique and special relationships I’ve made with passionate people, and the inspiration from other fellow makers who create something amazing with real impact!
But what stood out to me most Monday morning, while sipping my coffee, is that I'm a pretty damn lucky guy with friends and family who love me!
Running a small hot sauce company isn’t all fun and games, but it has added a special layer to my relationship with all my friends and family knowing that we’re there to help each other out, always up for the next adventure!
The Harvest Sauce Box has a collection of sweet and savory pumpkin hot sauces that need to be on your Thanksgiving table.
This harvest set of hot sauces feature the habanero pepper, the datil pepper, and a hint of brown sugar. Try these sauces from Born to Hula, Craic Sauce, and Seafire Gourmet.
The Spicy Shark
Gabe loves the movie Jaws! So much so, he started a hot sauce company with a theme connected to the film. He even has Chief Brody's '75 Chevy Blazer!
It's messed up, but I just watched Jaws for the first time a few weeks ago! I loved it and I love the Spicy Shark Sauces. We have their whole line of hot sauces on Craft Hot Sauce to bring that shark-bite flavor to your plate!
Forward this newsletter to the biggest chilihead you know! Thanks for the support there and have a great October!
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I wanted your first note of the year to come from the hot sauce part of your life. Happy New Year! I hope you’re in good health and I’m counting on 2022 being a great year ahead.
I’m here to share a recent conversation I had, which is now on the Craft Hot Sauce Podcast. Sometimes when I write this newsletter or market a hot sauce, it’s not my most natural channel of communication. The podcast has grown to be my favorite way of connecting with the wider craft hot sauce community and sharing those experiences with you.
Hope you’re enjoying your week as we ease into the winter months. In the past couple of newsletters I’ve described the hustle and bustle of the chili pepper harvest season. I feel like the mania that built up during summer peaked a couple weeks ago at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo.
The event was everything we hoped for with lots of engagement with hot sauce enthusiasts and makers. We gave out more samples of Craic Sauce over a two day period than ever before, receiving lots of positive feedback, especially with our Brian Boru’s Curry sauce.