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I’ve always wanted to make my own red pepper sauce like Tabasco brand but I rarely find good and fresh cayenne peppers.  I just happened to be shopping for jalapeno’s last week when something red caught my eye.  Beside the jalapeno’s were a few habanero peppers, some ghost peppers and a tray of fresh cayenne peppers.  The cayenne’s were long and curly and crisp and I felt compelled to bring some home.  Not knowing how many it would take to make a batch of sauce, I took a wild guess and estimated about a pound of peppers would do.  The ingredients listed on the back of a Tabasco brand bottle are distilled vinegar, red peppers and salt.  I basically made it the same way with the addition of some water.  I had to play around with the amounts and do a lot of taste testing to get it just right.  When you’re taste testing something so hot and spicy it takes some time in between tastes to make an accurate assessment.  The coloring of my homemade batch turned out much more vivid and bright than the original but the Tabasco brand sauce is fermented which would definitely affect the coloring.  Also my sauce was a little bit thicker but the taste was very close.  My taste testers (Joe and Josh) found one difference . . . they both tasted a variance in the vinegar.  I used an apple cider vinegar (which was what I had on hand in the pantry) but probably should have used white vinegar.  It didn’t even occur to me at the time, but next time I’ll be sure to make it with distilled white vinegar.   If your family goes through bottles of Tabasco red pepper sauce the way mine does, you might try making it yourself, if you can find the cayenne peppers that is!



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I found that a pound of peppers makes a little over a pint of sauce.  The ingredients I used are red cayenne peppers, distilled apple cider vinegar (I will list white vinegar in the recipe), salt and water.


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These peppers are hot so take that into consideration when making this sauce.  I cutoff the ends and then cut off about an inch from the top and removed the seeds.  Then I cut the rest of the pepper into 1/2 to 1 inch slices but left the seeds intact.  If you want to make it slightly milder, remove all or half of the seeds to adjust the heat.  Also, I didn’t have any gloves but I placed zip lock sandwich bags over my hands to handle the chiles.  Don’t touch your eyes or anything else that will burn with your fingers after handling hot chile!


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I placed them in a 3 quart saucepan and added 1 1/2 cups of water.


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Then I added the vinegar, I started with 1/2 cup and eventually settled on 1 cup.


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And a teaspoon of salt.


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Heat the mixture over medium high heat until it begins to simmer.  Cover with a lid and let simmer for about 30 minutes.


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After they have simmered, turn off the heat and let cool slightly before removing the lid. Otherwise you might start choking or wheezing from the hot chile.  That’s happened to me, I know!!


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Pour the chiles with their juices into a blender and puree until smooth.


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Again, be prepared for some hot chile fumes when you lift the lid off the blender.


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You’ll want to strain the sauce so it will be smooth without any leftover seeds or peel. Use a spatula to press it through the strainer.


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There’s a lot of seeds and peel that you don’t see until you strain it.  Now the sauce will be smooth.


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Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce . . .


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And the Red Pepper Sauce made from scratch . . .


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Tabasco Red Pepper Sauce from Scratch

1 pound fresh Cayenne Peppers
1 1/2 cups Water
1 cup Distilled White Vinegar
1 teaspoon Salt

Slice the top off the chile which includes the stem.  Use gloves or protect your hands with a zip lock bag to slice the rest of the chile into 1/2 to 1 inch slices.  If you want the sauce to be super hot, leave the seeds intact.  For milder sauce remove the seeds from the top portion of the chile or even half of the chile.

Place chopped chiles into a 3 quart heavy bottomed saucepan over medium high heat.  Add water, vinegar and salt and stir the pot.  When the mixture begins to simmer, lower the heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes.  Let cool before removing the lid.

Place contents into a blender and puree until smooth.  Strain sauce to remove any excess seeds and peel.  Pour into jars, seal and refrigerate.  Will keep for several weeks in the fridge.

Makes just over 1 pint.