A common question we often get from our customers is "Why do so many hot sauces have vinegar as a main ingredient?".
Essentially, it all comes down to preservation and taste. Let's take a look at two of the main hot sauce types: fermented and vinegar base.
Fermentation produces some of the the oldest and most popular styles of hot sauces (think Tabasco and sriracha). Fermentation is a pretty simple process and only requires a minimum of peppers, salt, and time. During the process, peppers, or in some cases pepper mash, are fermented using salt, the peppers natural juices, and sometimes additional water. Fermentation is one of our favorite hot sauce processes, since it provides not only great, true-to-pepper taste, natural heat, but also enzymes, beneficial probiotics, and carotene. The lactic acid will sometimes provide a slight "vinegar-like" flavor, even though vinegar has not been added. Some manufacturers will then pasteurize the sauce (which, unfortunately kills the enzymes and probiotics) if they are adding other ingredients like fruit, which would not be preserved otherwise. Fermented sauce may also have vinegar added for further preservation and taste.
Would you like to try a fermented hot sauce? Of course you would. Try:
Vinegar-based sauces are also very popular. Some of the most common are the traditional Louisiana-style hot sauces, which may often have vinegar as the first ingredient. Vinegar based sauces are generally pasteurized, which, when combined with the acidity of the vinegar, makes a very shelf-stable sauce. In other words, you can generally leave vinegar-based hot sauces unrefrigerated for long periods of time (keep an eye out for an upcoming blog on this topic).
Of course, vinegar isn't just used for preservation, it also tastes great when combined with the heat of the your favorite peppers and flavorings.
Some of our favorite vinegar-forward hot sauces are:
Many people find that Louisiana-style sauces have just a bit too much vinegar. If you fall in this camp, don't talk yourself out vinegar sauces all together. Many sauces have taken the traditional style and made it it unique by adding interesting combinations of peppers and spices, fruits, and alcohol.
So whether you prefer the tartness of vinegar based sauces, or the enzyme-rich pepper punch of fermented sauces, you owe it to yourself to explore the great variety that are available. As always, if you have questions or would like to share pictures of your favorite sauces or dishes, don't hesitate to reach out to support@dochotties, or tag us at #dochotties.
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