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Culinary Class: TLP’s Hot Sauce

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Some Like It Hot

Spice up your summer with homemade hot sauce

Written by Lia Grabowski | Photos by Jonathan Boncek

Southerners know heat, especially in the dead of August. Some wisdom suggests fighting the fiery season with equally fiery foods, since they can make you sweat and thus cool you down faster. Test that theory with our easy homemade hot sauce. Start by choosing your peppers wisely—feel free to mix varieties, but stick with the same color for a vibrant end product. Poblanos and jalapeños are milder options, followed by serranos and the venerable habanero, which can be more than one hundred times hotter than a jalapeño. (Keep in mind that smaller peppers tend to be hotter than the larger ones.) Capsaicin, the compound we register as spiciness, is most concentrated in the membrane surrounding the seeds, so removing it will help tone down the heat: the serrated edges of a grapefruit spoon tackle the job more efficiently than a knife. No matter which pepper you use, always wear gloves and switch on your kitchen fan when cooking to avoid capsaicin fumes. We make an herb vinegar to add depth, but you can skip that step in favor of plain apple cider vinegar to let the peppers shine. If the sauce is too spicy, balance the heat by adding more vinegar, sugar, or a splash of water. Similarly, if it’s too thick, add another splash of vinegar until you reach the desired consistency. There’s a lot of room for variation in this recipe: Swap out other fresh herbs and peppers, and adjust the amount of garlic and sugar to find your favorite combination. Likewise, the possibilities for using the finished product are endless—we recommend a dash to spice up your favorite bloody mary. —Lia Grabowski