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Homemade Tabasco Sauce

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This is our first year growing a garden. There have been many trial and error events this year but it has been wonderful nonetheless. We have had many things that we found that didn’t grow well for us whether that be from out error, this horrible weather we have had this year with tons of rain, or that it just doesn’t grow well in our zone. 

We moved into our home at the end of April, so we got a very late start on our garden. Just a few short weeks after we moved in and got most our garden planted, the rain started. It really seemed like we were in the movie “Forrest Gump” when he said one day it just started raining and never stopped. I don’t know for sure how many days it rained in a row, but it seemed to never stop! 

We planted our Tabasco peppers about the first week in May. They did very well throughout all of the rain and started to bloom when they were about a foot tall. I’m not sure when they typically start blooming but I imagine they usually get much taller. It seemed with every time they bloomed they would shoot up another 6-8 inches. Before we knew it, the plants were about 5 feet tall! As you can see in the picture above, Tabasco peppers grow vertically versus hanging like a jalapeno would. There are tons and tons of peppers that one plant can produce. 

As soon as I seen these plants in the greenhouse, I knew what I would be making with these. My husband absolutely loves spicy foods and uses a vinegar based hot sauce on almost everything he eats. Hot sauce is something we buy regularly from the grocery store, so it gave me even more motivation to make it myself for cheaper! 

 

To Ferment, or Not to Ferment? That is the question.

The process of making the Tabasco sauce is quite simple but there are a few different ways that you can make it. 

The kind you buy in the grocery store is fermented for TWO YEARS. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Next year we may try fermenting a batch for a year, but for our first batch we didn’t have that kind of patience.

You can take your fresh, ripe peppers and add an equal amount of vinegar of your choice as you have peppers. Put them in a saucepan and boil for 5-7 minutes. Then let them cool to room temperature and blend them in a blender until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, salt to taste and store in glass containers. 

This seems to be the least complicated way but I will be honest, boiling them scares me! The method we used, ( I will go into detail shortly), when I rinsed the food processor bowl, the fumes from the peppers almost killed me. I have never been around pepper spray but I can only imagine that this way quite comparable. It took about 20-30 minutes of airing out the kitchen to be able to breath in there! 

Others may have better luck with the fresh method but I have yet to try it because of this.

With the fermented version, you take your fresh, clean, and ripe Tabasco peppers and either slice, chop, or puree them to start with (USE GLOVES NO MATTER WHAT, don’t ask how I know). You then add anywhere between 2-10% of salt. This is absolutely necessary for the fermentation process! You have to have at least 2% salt to keep the bad bacteria away so the good bacteria can do it’s thing. Any that you add after that is personal preference. 

You can ferment them as long as you’d like but according to what I have read, the longer you ferment the peppers the more mellow the taste becomes. After one month of fermenting, my husband said that the sauce is VERY hot, which he likes but it may not be for everyone. 

Now onto how I made my sauce!

Once we had picked about a pound of Tabasco peppers we started our first batch of Tabasco sauce. 

I washed the peppers, removed the stems, and chopped them into small pieces. I then added 2% of salt. I weighed my peppers in grams before I blended them then calculated the percentage of salt that I needed. It isn’t necessary to weigh in grams but I feel that I can get a more accurate measurement in grams when it comes to such a small amount. I added enough water just to cover the peppers.

I then split the mixture between two quart size mason jars. This filled each of them up a little more than half way. You want to make sure you leave plenty of room in each jar because of the fermentation process. It causes gases to form and makes the mixture expand. 

I topped each of the jars with a silicone fermenting lid (get them here) and a ring. The fermenting lids aren’t completely necessary but for a dollar and some change per lid makes they are totally worth it. 

If you don’t have any fermenting lids handy, you can use cheese cloth or a paper towel under the ring for the jar. 

Leave your jars on the counter for 7 days then move them to a cool, dark location. You can let them ferment as long as you please, but like I said above, the longer you ferment, the more mellow the taste becomes. 

 

Once you are pleased with the amount of time that your peppers have aged, you can move on to finishing your sauce. 

You need equal parts of peppers and vinegar. I used white wine vinegar (here), but you can use whatever vinegar you prefer. 

Blend your peppers and vinegar until smooth, then strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove skins and seeds.

I found some really neat bottles on amazon for not much money at all and can be reused many times! If you don’t have bottles like this, you can use any size mason jar you are comfortable with. If you would like to get some bottles like I used, you can buy them here

I filled each of the bottles with about an inch of head space and water bath canned them for 15 minutes. Because the lids are plastic I only filled my canner to cover where the sauce was in the bottle. 

I placed my shrink bands on each bottle and used a heat gun to shrink them. 

Add a label if you’d like and they’re all set! 

These make great gifts for your friends or family that you know love spicy foods!

I hope you enjoy! If you have any questions or try this recipe, please leave me a comment below! Thanks for stopping by!

-Ashley