Make your own hot sauce at home when you follow these 6 tips

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Hot sauce has become a favorite condiment around the globe. It can easily be added to any dish from a few drops added to scrambled eggs to a cup of the stuff used to coat chicken wings. And while many hot sauce connoisseurs are loyal to a particular brand, it's very easy to make at home. And if you're one such connoisseur, you may find that your very own hot sauce quickly replaces that bottle you've been buying for years.
Hot sauce is a lot like making marina sauce in the way that a few key ingredients can be customized to create a sauce that's unlike anyone else's and that suits your particular tastes perfectly. While it all starts with peppers and vinegar, the number of things that can be added to it are virtually limitless. Learn the basics and then start experimenting to make your own so the next time it lands on your table, you can boast about everything being made from scratch. Right down to the hot sauce.
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1. Pick your peppers
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The world of hot chili peppers is a vast one, and it can be difficult to know which pepper to use to make your hot sauce. If you're just starting out in making your own hot sauce, finding out which pepper your current favorite hot sauce uses can be a good start. You'll likely get a similar flavor, as peppers are the star of the show in hot sauce.
But don't feel as though you have to limit yourself to just one pepper, either. Using a combination of different peppers can make the sauce more complex and give it a more nuanced flavor. Start with some peppers that have average heat, such as jalapeños or red chili peppers. Then add in a few peppers that bring a real punch of heat such as ghost peppers or habanero peppers to really give it some kick.
It doesn't matter if you use dried or fresh; both will be simmered until they are soft. And just a dozen or so will be plenty to make several average-sized bottles of hot sauce. You may also have to play around with the mix of peppers you like with different batches. It may turn out that you like the simpler unique taste of using just one type of pepper.
2. Choose your vinegar
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Vinegar is another main ingredient of hot sauce and in many recipes, the chili peppers will actually simmer away in it until they are soft and ready to be pureed. A lot of recipes call for simply white vinegar, but don't feel as though you have to stay with just that. Like choosing your peppers, choosing different vinegars can put a unique spin on your made-from-scratch hot sauce.
Apple cider vinegar can bring a distinct flavor along with a host of health benefits. And rice wine vinegar can be a bit more subtle, with less of that acidic bite that white vinegar brings. Even lemon juice can help play up the complexity of a hot sauce. Again, don't feel as though you have to stick with juts one type of vinegar or acid. Experimenting with different vinegars can open up the world of hot sauce for you.
3. Choose your aromatics
Many hot sauces are made strictly with chili peppers, vinegar, and a bit of salt. But that doesn't mean you have to limit yourself to just these when making your own. Onion and garlic are basic aromatics that can bring a really fresh taste to hot sauce, but there are other ingredients that can be used, too. Diced tomatoes and shredded carrots will help cool the hot sauce down, while tomatillos will bring their own unique tart flavor, and fresh herbs can rejuvenate the sauce. This is another part of making hot sauce that allows you to experiment, so don't limit yourself to even just the above aromatics. You'll be making your own truly unique hot sauce in no time.
4. Wear gloves while cooking it
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Chili peppers are no joke, no matter what type you've decided to use. They are hot - really hot, which is probably something you're familiar with if you're interested in making your own hot sauce. But what you may not realize is that while touching them, some of their juices, skin, flesh, and seeds can get onto your skin.
This can burn either slightly or significantly, depending on how much has touched the skin and it can even do real damage such as causing scarring or blisters. The risk factor for this increases even more if you're cooking the peppers before simmering them, such as roasting them (which can add a nice toasted flavor to the sauce).
To make sure you don't get burned by your sauce before you've tasted it, wear gloves while preparing the hot sauce to protect your hands. And don't forget to not touch anything else - especially your face - while preparing the it.
5. Cook it
There are some that argue that you don't actually need to cook hot sauce, and that may be true depending on your preferences. But if you're using dried peppers, letting them simmer in the vinegar will help soften them. And cooking also helps all the flavors marry. If you choose not to cook your hot sauce (which is another component you can totally experiment with), just remember that the flavors will be much more distinctive. Raw garlic will give its own potent bite, and the overall sauce will likely be much hotter than it would be if given a quick cook on the stove.
If you prefer your hot sauce to be cooked first, place all the ingredients you'll be using - including the peppers, vinegar, salt, and aromatics - into a large saucepan. Bring it up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. The chances are that you'll only need to simmer the sauce for about 15 minutes in order to soften the peppers. If the peppers don't soften after that time, keep simmering and make sure to check on the peppers every few minutes. As soon as they're soft enough to blend, take the sauce off the heat.
6. Puree the sauce
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Just like there's an argument to be made for raw sauce vs. cooked sauce, there's also an argument to be made for not pureeing the sauce. Instead, many prefer to simply mash it. Like salsa, this can be a good choice for those that prefer a chunkier sauce, but most like their hot sauce to be smooth so it's easier to toss chicken wings in or add to their favorite dishes. And pureeing the sauce couldn't be simpler.
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The easiest way to do it is in a blender, but be sure you either cool the sauce down completely first or puree it in batches, filling the blender only halfway for each batch. Hot liquids expand when they're blended and that can cause the mixture to explode out of the blender. That won't only make a big mess of your kitchen, but it can also land in all those areas you've taken such care of until this point - such as your eyes.
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