Custom hot sauces are everywhere. You can easily find small batch hot sauces online, in stores, or even at farmers markets. Homemade hot sauce isn’t something you need to make with all the options out there.
Hot sauces are fabulous at elevating simple dishes. If you don’t like spicy, a mild homemade hot sauce can still offer all of the flavors without the heat.
Making your own homemade hot sauce is easy to do. That’s one of the reasons you find so many craft hot sauces out there. They are easy to make and customize. Like craft beers, it can be fun to try all the different options.
Homemade hot sauce is much easier than making your own beer!
Why Make Homemade Hot Sauce?
Making your own homemade hot sauce means you get to control the spice level. It’s an easy way to use local produce or food from your own garden.
Since hot sauce keeps well, you can make your own homemade versions and enjoy them fresh without special equipment. You can play with different flavor combinations.
Fermented hot sauces give a nutritional boost because they are alive with beneficial bacteria. A purchased hot sauce won’t be alive, as it will need to be bottled and heated to kill off all bacteria.
Making your own homemade hot sauce can be a great gift for friends and family.
Though you can’t sell your homemade hot sauces under Maryland cottage food laws, if you enjoy making them, there are ways to get licensed and sell them locally. Imagine offering sauce tasting at the farmers market!
How to Make Homemade Hot Sauce
A basic hot sauce involves peppers, acids, and seasoning. You can choose whatever type of pepper (and there are a crazy amount of them out there), vinegars or citrus for acid, and then whatever seasoning you might like.
Beyond that, you can try adding fruits and vegetables or herbs. Combinations are endless. And there are quite a few resources online to guide you in your quest.
Chili Pepper Madness has information on types of sauces, recipes, advice on making homemade hot sauces, as well as where to buy chili pepper plants.
When starting out, you can’t get simpler than making this Easy Homemade Hot Sauce recipe. You could take that and customize it easily.
For an Asian flair, you could try making your own Homemade Sriracha Sauce.
Making your own homemade hot sauce means you can try sauces from other cultures. This West African Pepper Sauce won’t keep as long thanks to the addition of oil, but that just means you can enjoy it faster!
Adding local fruit or homegrown fruit to your hot sauces is easy to do and can give a unique flavor. Try making Watermelon Hot Sauce this summer.
Saving Homemade Hot Sauce
Storing homemade hot sauces safely is important. If you have the acidity levels right, the sauce should stay good for months. If you have extra ingredients like oils or vegetables and the sauce is not as acidic, you want to use it faster and definitely keep it in the fridge.
If you take the right precautions, homemade hot sauce should last months in the fridge.
If you aren’t comfortable with canning hot sauce or don’t have the right acidity to keep your sauces fresh, you can freeze your sauces. They may separate when thawed, but the flavor won’t be compromised.
Storing homemade hot sauces for yourself and as gifts is a great idea. If you want to sell them, though, you’ll have to do much more work because cottage food laws in Maryland don’t allow it.
There is some good advice at The Hot Sauce Addiction about finding commercial kitchens or paying a hot sauce kitchen to make your sauces for you. If you find you really enjoy making sauces, this might be something you want to try.
Using Homemade Hot Sauce
Homemade hot sauce can offer a flavor boost to easy and cheap meals. Inexpensive meals like beans and rice can be elevated with the addition of hot sauce.
You can put your sauces on eggs, tacos, and in stir fries. Add them to pasta sauce, make a marinade, or a spicy salad dressing. Cook your greens with hot sauce. Make a spicy mayonnaise for your sandwich.
Add hot sauce to homemade or purchased barbecue sauce. Throw it in ground pork and make homemade sausage. I love adding it to homemade mac and cheese too.
Seriously, what doesn’t improve with the addition of hot sauce? You can make your own homemade hot sauce mild if you don’t like it spicy, and give any food a boost in flavor.
Add that homemade hot sauce to cocktails, to dips, and to marinades. Make meals no one else can, because they don’t have your special sauce.
Growing Peppers for Homemade Hot Sauce
You can make hot sauce with fresh or dried peppers. If you don’t find fresh options at the farmers market, you can order dried ones easily. But growing your own is where you can really get exactly what you want.
Hot peppers are tropical plants. They grow as perennials but in Maryland in the ground they are annuals. Like tomatoes, you want to start seeds inside to get the most growing season out of them.
Fortunately, you can grow many peppers in containers. That means that you might be able to grow your peppers outside in summer, then bring them inside for winter. You’ll get a lot more peppers this way because the plants are already established.
Hot pepper seeds can be hard to germinate, but adding some heat to the containers will help seeds to start. Once started, water them but they do prefer drier conditions.
Learning to make your own homemade hot sauce can be a fun and rewarding hobby, whether you buy your ingredients or learn to grow them all from scratch. If you don’t want to make your own, look at buying local hot sauce and support your local community!