June 21st, 2021

All About Hot Sauce

Posted in Sauce, Tips

With All the Hot Sauce Americans Consume, It’s Good to Know Hot It’s Made

Hot Sauce How To

Let’s face it, Americans love hot sauce. If you’ve ever thought otherwise, simply wander through the condiment aisle of your local market.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a national chain or a local mom and pop, you’re bound to find dozens of brands and flavors. In fact, Fortune Business Insights predicts the hot sauce market will be worth 3.77 billion in 2026! That’s a staggering number, making it truly a hot commodity (get it?).

So, whether you’re a sriracha-holic, a gochujang trend-setter, or a Tabasco purist, we can all agree hot sauce is just tops. And if you’re thinking otherwise, I’ll remind you buffalo is technically a hot sauce too. Got you there, didn’t I?

With all that in mind, let’s get a better idea of how hot sauce is made.

Hot Sauce 101

Pepper Power

Hot Sauce 101

When it comes to hot sauces, it all starts with the pepper. Sure, it seems obvious, but the flavor of the sauce is dictated by the type, quality, and ripeness of the chile you use. And with over 4,000 types worldwide, you have plenty of options.

Once the pepper has been picked, the stems are removed, and the pepper is washed thoroughly. They are then mashed, chopped, or ground in preparation for the next step.

In This Case, Be Salty

Salty

Now that a clean pepper mash has been created, it’s time to bring out the chili’s natural depth of flavor and assist in preservation. This is accomplished by adding salt in a concentration of 15-20% (or higher in some cases), thus beginning the fermentation stage.

Remember two things: a higher salt concentration means a longer fermentation but a cleaner flavor, whereas a salt concentration under 9% allows for a faster malolactic fermentation (like in wine), but it creates an unpleasant flavor in pepper-based sauces. Choose wisely.

The salted mash is placed in a breathable covered container and agitated (shaken or stirred) periodically. Fermentation times vary by sauce type and batch size anywhere from 15 days to 6 months.

Once desired fermentation is achieved, peppers may be further processed and strained as desired to remove seeds and fibers leaving only a soft, fermented pulp.

Acid Trip

Vinegar

Now it’s time for some acid. Most hot sauces use vinegar in this step. Not only does the vinegar add to the flavor, but it also helps protect the sauce from spoilage. The high salt and acid ratios mean many hot sauces are entirely shelf stable.

At this point you can start tweaking the final flavor of the sauce. The addition of other flavorings like onions, garlic, or even fruits, can add water activity to the sauce, reducing its shelf-life. Remember, even a small amount of water can take a hot sauce from safe to dangerous.

Keep it Safe

Hot to make hot sauce

Hot sauces, regardless of their salt and acid levels, should always be placed in sanitized jars with tightly closing lids that can be submerged in boiling water until the internal temperature reaches 185 degrees Fahrenheit. The jar should then be cooled and stored appropriately.

Whether it’s happening in the back of house at a restaurant or in a commercial bottling facility, these rules should be strictly adhered to for consumer safety.

Unfortunately, more delicate flavors like cilantro can be degraded in the heating step. But you can always add natural oils to help keep these flavors bright.

It’s a Pleasure to Burn!

Hope this little lesson in hot sauce production taught you something interesting. If not, hopefully it just made you want to go splash some spicy pepper liquid onto your menu. Either way, hot sauce is boss, and it will be for a very long time.

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April 5th, 2021

Guajillo Chile is the Flavor of the Moment

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Sauce

Guajillo Chile Makes a Bold Statement

Guajillo Chile

Image courtesy of WorldSpice.com

2021 looks to be the year of chiles and spice, and the guajillo chile is already making a big splash.

The guajillo pepper in its fresh form is called a mirasol pepper. When dried, it develops a leathery skin and a complex fruity and smoky flavor. With a flavor hybrid of raisin and chipotle.

It has a medium spiciness, ranging from 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville Heat Units. This makes it slightly spicier than a poblano but milder than your average jalapeño.

In Mexico you’ll most commonly find guajillo chiles in moles, but they also find their way into salsas and marinades. Their dark brown color creates a beautiful, deep, rich looking sauce akin to chocolate.

Guajillo Chilies on the Rise

How Common is it?

Guajillo Chile Salsa

Photo courtesy of PepperScale.com.

Right now, guajillo chilies rest at the “Adoption” phase of Datassential’s Menu Adoption Cycle. This means that it’s gaining traction, but still unique. You’ll find guajillo at progressive fast casuals and specialty grocery stores, like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

According to Datassential, this smoky little delight is on about 2.8% of menus nationwide, but that’s up 28% over the past for years. So, there’s definitely interest brewing. While only 14% of the population has tried it, 29% of the population knows about it. That means there’s a good opportunity to expose curious new consumers to the flavor in the form of a special sauce or LTO.

Where Can You Find Guajillo on Menus?

Chile Trends

Image courtesy of RickBayless.com.

As stated above, it’s still working its way into the mainstream, but has nonetheless permeated some recognizable menus.

The most standout of which would be Xoco, Rick Bayless’s fast-casual restaurant in Chicago. He puts guajillo center stage in his short rib sandwich made with guajillo-braised short ribs, grilled cactus salad, avocado, and black beans.

It’s also featured on menus in places like Dirt Candy, TAG Restaurants, and at Proof and Provision in Atlanta. This, of course, is only a small smattering of establishments finding the rich complexity of guajillo a winning ingredient.

Even retail brands like Pace Picante and Humble House Sauces have launched salsas featuring guajillo chilies.

What Does This Mean?

Food Trends

Image courtesy of WoodlandFoods.com

It means guajillo is growing in recognition and becoming a safe option to explore on your restaurant’s menu. Adding guajillo concentrates and salsas to items like sour cream and mayonnaise balance out the heat with creaminess and cool flavors. These are great for sandwiches and wraps.

Consider adding guajillo to fresh house salsas to add bold flavor and offer another menu item without adding multiple ingredients. Or even drop a whole chile into soups, stews, and chilis to add a unique flavor that’ll help you stand out among competitors. Your imagination is the limit.

A Chile with Depth

The smoky, slightly piquant, and sweet/tart nature of guajillo chiles make them a safe bet for menu experimentation. And with trends pushing towards specific chile flavors and piquant foods, the time is right to get in front of customers.

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March 16th, 2020

Go Bold with Asian Flavored Snacks

Posted in Consumer Trends, New Foods and Flavors

Asian Flavored Snacks Continue to Captivate

Asian Flavored Snacks

Photo courtesy of spoonuniversity.com

Asian flavored snacks continue to drive sales and excitement in the snack market. As 2019 proved, certain trends are not letting go anytime soon. Two of these trends are snacking and Asian flavors, so it’s stands to reason they make a perfect pair.

Americans are steering the snack market away from sweet and salty standards and towards the more complex, fermented, and umami-packed flavors commonly found in Asian cuisines. A great way to exemplify this is by checking out the surge in snack products around Asian flavors.

Gochujang

Asian Flavored Snacks

Photo courtesy of surfandsunshine.com

It seems there’s no getting around our friend gochujang. It’s continuing to pop up nationally on pizzas, tacos, and even breakfast sandwiches. And now, no shocker, it’s all over the snack food aisle.

Whole Food’s 365 Brand launched a gochujang flavored Kettle Chip as an LTO to much applause. It’s been so popular, in fact, that they’ve continued to stock it beyond the LTO period. Annie Chun’s also makes the list with their Baked Seaweed Crisps with gochujang seasoning.

Sahale Snacks mixes things up in their Korean BBQ Almond Mix, made with savory gochujang glaze, pineapples, and sesame. The biggest surprise comes from StarKist. They released a Spicy Korean flavored tuna fish snack pouch as a part of their “Bold Flavors” lineup. This high protein snack is packed with protein and zesty flavor.

Curry Flavored Snacks

Curry Chocolate

Photo courtesy of taquitos.net

The newcomer to the flavor game is curry. Whether it be Indian, Thai, red, green, spicy, or mild, there are a variety of curry flavors and styles bouncing around the snack scene.

Kettle Brand Chips leads the way with their ultra-craveable Red Curry chips. Also on trend is Pringles, who released a Malaysian Red Curry Rice Fusion chip. Haven’t had that yet, sounds great! You can also get a little crazy with World Market Indian Sweet Curry Milk Chocolate bars.

Finally, Sarah’s Snacks launched a coconut curry nut mix featuring a savory blend of cashews, chickpeas, and sweet currants toasted with warm Indian spices.

Thai Chili

Asian flavored snacks

Photo courtesy of theshelbyreport.com

Our final entry in this category is the Thai Chile. It can be found in variations from mild to hot, sweet to savory, but all with that signature aromatic Thai flavor.

You can find Thai Chili flavored snacks most commonly in potato chip form from Lay’s, Pringles, and even Doritos with their Thai Pepper Chicken chips. Kettle also lands on this list with their Sweet Chili Garlic chips.

Blue Diamond features a bold lineup also, one of the flavors being Thai Sweet Chili Roasted almonds. And, along with their spot on the gochujang side, StarKist also features a Thai Chili Style tuna fish snack pouch. Even Quaker has launched a Sweet & Spicy Thai Chili Rice Crisp snack.

I’d say Thai Chili is currently winning the popularity battle.

Snack Time

So, go find some of the cool flavors and see just how great Asian flavored snacks can be. They’re on trend and supremely popular right now, so don’t miss out!

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April 8th, 2019

New Hot Sauces

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, New Foods and Flavors, Sauce

A Wave of Global Flavors Brings Us New Hot Sauces

New Hot Sauces

In our last blog we discussed new trends in hot sauces revolving around global influences. We saw how Asia, the Middle East, and Africa are helping to drive the hot sauce flavor boom.

In this week’s blog, we’re going to discuss how hot sauces and chilies are imposing their will into other food categories as well.

Specifically Spicy

In the wake of all these wonderful chile-based sauces hitting the market, consumers are starting to recognize their favorite varieties. A new trend for consumers wanting a specific chile in their sauce is becoming prevalent.

New Hot Sauce Trends

For example, La Meridana is making waves with their variety of Habanero hot sauces. They come in different flavors, like green, red, and mango. Sriracha flavor has been popular so long it’s starting to find it’s way into lots of other foods. For example, popcorn, protein bars, and chickpea puffs.

Ancho is another chile getting its own stage. With a smoky sweet profile, Ancho is a perfect fit for hot sauces, BBQ sauces, and pretty much anything else. Just check out Frontera’s Ancho Pepper Adobo sauce. If Rick Bayless is doing it, it’s probably a good thing. Also, peruse Sauce Piquante’s lineup featuring jolokia, fatali, and arbol.

Chile-Based BBQ

New Hot Sauces

Photo courtesy of kuhne.de

BBQ sauce has never been a stranger to spice. Cayenne and chipotle are pretty much standard fare in BBQ these days. But now, food manufacturers are getting creative with new flavors and chilies.

Kuhne, for example, just launched their “Made for Meat” line of BBQ sauces. A standout of this is the Grilled Paprika Sauce. A nice twist on a familiar flavor. Wildly Delicious’s line of Badass BBQ Sauces also feature a pair of unique flavors: Roasted Garlic & Smoked Sriracha Mop Sauce, and Ghost Chili & Mango BBQ sauce.

Even brands like Williams and Sonoma are ahead of the curve with their Ghost Chili Garlic BBQ sauce. If ghost chilies are officially mainstream, I think the floodgates are effectively wide open.

Sweet & Fruity Hot Sauces

Coming along for the ride with the unique new chilies are the fruits and sweeteners (think maple syrup) that help balance them out. Sweet and spicy just seem to fit together like peas and carrots, or pigs and blankets. Or whatever you think fits together. You get the idea.

Hot Sauce Trends 2019

As we saw previously, La Meridana’s habanero sauces featured a mango variation, but they also have a papaya habanero sauce. Mexican chamoy sauce also uses fruit to balance heat. It’s made using pickled fruits, like apricots, and ancho chilies blended together with lime juice and spices to form a thick sauce or paste. It’s gaining a lot of steam in restaurants nationally for its unique sweet, spicy, and tangy profile.

Chocolate hot sauces, hot honey, and even kimchi jam also fit into this category in their own unique way. No matter how you pair it, people like a touch of sweet with their spice.

New Hot Sauces in Restaurants

Many mainstream restaurants are not shying away from the spice trend with unique new hot sauces and flavors. Mod Market is highlighting their Merida Salad made with a guajillo lime vinaigrette. CAVA Mediterranean restaurant makes a Spicy Lamb Meatball with harissa and cilantro, along with a savory tomato-based harissa spread.

The Thirsty Lion Gastropub and Grill hits the mark on its menu with the gochujang and kimchi fried rice. Minnesota based BBQ Chain Famous Dave’s marries sweet heat with their Pineapple Rage hot wings. Finally, don’t be surprised to find an Ancho Chile Salmon on the menu of your local Chili’s.

Ciao for Now

Now that you’re enlightened, go out and set some new trends. I can’t wait to see what new hot sauces pop up this year.

Cheers!

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September 10th, 2018

New Flavors in Hot Sauce

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends

We searched around to see what’s happening in the hot sauce world

Hey there hot sauce lovers. Thanks for stopping by to find out what’s new in the world of spicy condiments.

Hot Sauce

2018 has seen bold statements made in flavor trends with things like Za’atar, Thai and Filipino cuisine, and Mexican moles. The hot sauce market is no different, seeing a myriad of new flavors and ingredients.

Let’s look at what’s new and trendy.

What’s New in Hot Sauce?

Fruit

Ok, not totally new, but stay with me. While fruits have been showing up in hot sauces and salsas for a while now (see mango and pineapple), helping to mellow out those spicy acidic tones, more interesting fruits are beginning to appear.

Bravado Spice Co. has developed a Jalapeno and Green Apple sauce that’s gaining quite a bit of popularity as a flavor packed, not too hot sauce. They also produce a Ghost Pepper and Blueberry sauce for the more adventurous palate. Yellowbird, out of Austin, TX, uses bright tangerine juice to balance out the spicy peppers used in a few of their sauces.

Hot Sauce Trends

Image Courtesy of Culleysusa.com

Finally, Culley’s out of New Zealand makes a Kiwi Habanero sauce that I’m dying to try. It may seem a bit too on the nose, but I love it anyhow.

Chocolate

Chocolate really does make most things better (bacon, fruit, potato chips, you get the idea), and hot sauce is no exception.

Image Courtesy of Heathotsauce.com

Nebraska’s own Volcanic Peppers brand has proved this with their award winning Chocolate Lightening hot sauce. Also joining the party is Punch Drunk with their Chocolate Ghost Pepper hot sauce. To make theirs a bit more unique they use chia seeds as a thickening agent.

Finally, look for Dawson’s brand Chocolate Hot Sauce for use on desserts. With a milder heat and sweeter profile, this one plays well with unique confections.

Truffles

Because, why not? Truffle flavors are common on fries, chips, eggs, and pizzas all over the U.S., so why not hot sauce. Makes sense to me.

Hot Sauce 2018

Image Courtesy of Truffhotsauce.com

While you can find a few brands selling truffle hot sauce, like Frohlich and Gindo’s, the clear market leader in this category has to be Truff. With its use of black truffles along with an infused olive oil, Truff balances the heat with savory aromatics and a clean flavor.

Close

As you can see there doesn’t seem to be any lack of innovation in the world of hot sauces. I hope we see this trend continue forward, as I’m one of the many who just can’t get enough.

Happy eating friends!

 

 

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September 18th, 2017

Chile Pepper 101

Posted in Educational

An Introduction to Chile Peppers

Chile Peppers

Let’s kick this right off by covering a little spelling and grammar. Chile, the proper noun, is a South American country that lies between the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Chili (notice the “i” on the end), is a stew made of peppers, meat, sometimes tomatoes, and depending on the side of the argument you’re on, beans. Finally, a chile, is a fruit of the plant from the Genus capsicum. There, I’m glad we cleared that up.

Now we can talk about chile peppers and all their glory. Recently, we posted a blog titled “Hot Sauce 101”, which was, as the title suggested, an intro to how hot sauce is made. So, we thought it would be appropriate to post a “Chile Pepper 101,” discussing the finer points of this wonderful fruit.

Chile

Chiles are native to the New World and were originally dubbed “peppers” by Christopher Columbus, however they are unrelated to peppercorns. Chile peppers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and they get their heat from capsaicin, a chemical stored in the plant’s placental ribs. Hot, dry conditions yield peppers higher in capsaicin, and as a rule of thumb the smaller the pepper the hotter it is.

Chile pepper scoville

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/scoville-scale-for-spicy-food-2013-11

The heat of capsaicin is commonly measured on the Scoville Scale (developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912), a subjective rating designed to measure the perception of capsaicin in chiles. The scale ranges from 0 (bell pepper) to 16,000,000 (pure capsaicin). The higher the number, the hotter the pepper.

Asian, Indian, Latin American, and Mexican cuisines rely heavily on chileschili peppers, which makes sense considering the climates of these countries. They can be used fresh, whole, chopped, stuffed, roasted, dried, ground, re-hydrated, pickled, or pureed. They are versatile in heat, flavor, and application.

A word of caution. When working with chiles, especially the hotter ones, be sure to wear gloves. The last thing you want to do is rub your eyes (or a more sensitive area…) after dicing up a fresh habanero. I can promise you, that does not end well.

Thanks for reading along, now go forth and eat!

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