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Dumb Question - Vinegar in Homemade Hot Sauce Recipes

vinegar hot sauce salsa

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#1 Derelict

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 12:01 PM

I had a great time during the past year making hot sauces and salsa with my peppers.  Got a lot of good advice from this forum!  But I am still a newbie so forgive me a dumb question.

 

Some of my recipes (especially the habanero recipes) asked for a huge amount of vinegar versus water.  Sometimes as much as 3:1 or 4:1 cups vinegar (red wine and white).  The sauces, frankly, tasted like a vinegar sauce with a little bit of pepper!  So I threw some batches away and started using a 4:1 or 5:1 ratio of water to vinegar, no matter what the recipe said.  The sauces came out much better.

 

So here are my questions.  Why do the recipes ask for so much vinegar?  Is for preserving the sauce?  And do the experts here have any other thoughts about the use of vinegar in their sauces and salsas?


Edited by Derelict, 17 April 2019 - 11:46 PM.


#2 salsalady

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 04:46 PM

Where are the recipes from? An approved extension service type recipe, pepper fool.com, here on thp? Some people really like vinegar, but the original ratios you mentioned is quite stout.

One recipe for canned salsa from Colorado state lists 20 cups veggies, one cup vinegar, canning jars and boiling water bath. I usually quote 1 cup vinegar to 10 cups veggies for a cooked sauce. You can also help the pH by using a citrus juice like pineapple, orange, even apple juice instead of water.
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#3 The Hot Pepper

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 04:56 PM

If it tastes better, go with that!

 

Rice wine vinegar is less harsh too.

 

Once you want to bottle you'll need to check the pH, until then go with what tastes best.



#4 Derelict

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 05:46 PM

If it tastes better, go with that!

 

Rice wine vinegar is less harsh too.

 

Once you want to bottle you'll need to check the pH, until then go with what tastes best.

 

Is the recommendation for vinegar because it serves as a preservative?



#5 Derelict

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 05:50 PM

Where are the recipes from? An approved extension service type recipe, pepper fool.com, here on thp? Some people really like vinegar, but the original ratios you mentioned is quite stout.

One recipe for canned salsa from Colorado state lists 20 cups veggies, one cup vinegar, canning jars and boiling water bath. I usually quote 1 cup vinegar to 10 cups veggies for a cooked sauce. You can also help the pH by using a citrus juice like pineapple, orange, even apple juice instead of water.

 

Yeah, I'm a newb, most of my recipes are from allrecipes.com or another online source.  But I should check out the pepperfool.com site more carefully. 

 

Anyway, I don't want to get too scientific about it, I just wanted to know if there was a reason why some recipes are so high on vinegar.



#6 The Hot Pepper

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 06:53 PM

Is the recommendation for vinegar because it serves as a preservative?

 

1. Natural preservative, yes.

2. It adds a tang many associate with hot sauce. If hot sauce is not tangy it can taste flat.
3. Liquid is needed for any sauce, so vinegar is used because of 1&2.



#7 salsalady

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 09:24 PM

Yes to what ^^^ Boss said.
I wouldnt trust AllRecipe recipes. I have looked at that site for general ideas but always alter it to my dish. Also, I have seen on national TV celebrity chefs say to remove the seeds because all the heat is in the seeds.....NOT!!!..... and this was a Chile pepper chef show!!! :banghead:

And one celebrity chef pronounces a smoked jalapeno as a chi-po-to-lay......instead of the generally accepted chi-poht-lee.....

But they're paychecks are much larger than mine, so whatever....back to Hot Sauce!!!

You definitely have room to work with. Try it again and maybe even buy some peppers at the store to practice with. A basic ph tester for <$100 is a great tool too invest in.


Most important...Have Fun!!!!
SL
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#8 Derelict

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 11:48 PM

 A basic ph tester for <$100 is a great tool too invest in.

SL

 

OK, a follow-on dumb question, why do I want a pH tester? 
 



#9 salsalady

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 07:18 PM

So you can reduce the amount of vinegar...significantly...but still know your sauce is at a safe ph level. It's not a mandatory tool to have, but a good one if you plan to continue with the hot sauce fun.

If you haven't yet, read the Hot Sauce 101 thread, should answer most of your questions and get you headed in the right direction.
http://thehotpepper....-hot-sauce-101/

Have fun, post pics.
SL
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#10 Derelict

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 08:25 PM

So you can reduce the amount of vinegar...significantly...but still know your sauce is at a safe ph level. It's not a mandatory tool to have, but a good one if you plan to continue with the hot sauce fun.

If you haven't yet, read the Hot Sauce 101 thread, should answer most of your questions and get you headed in the right direction.
http://thehotpepper....-hot-sauce-101/

Have fun, post pics.
SL

 

Great information, salsalady! 

 

I did not see one question answered in that post -- do I need to be concerned about the pH level if I consume all the salsa I make within 1-2 weeks, and it is refrigerated when not on the table?  You recommend a pH of 4.0, and this is needed under what circumstances? 
 



#11 The Hot Pepper

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 08:37 PM

If it is refrigerated, no. Same as making marinara for your pasta. Fridge = fine. ;)



#12 SmokenFire

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 08:44 PM

Really great feedback for the new user guys.  Yer making me pretty fkn proud with this helping and such. 


It felt like satan pissed in my mouth it was so hot and lasted a long time. It was a horrible experience eating one of them. - SavinaRed
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#13 emanphoto

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 05:25 AM

As a rule of thumb, I add only 20% vinegar to my ferment recipes after milling them.  The pH is already 3.8-3.4 so I'm already safe, but the vinegar does 2 things.  1. It dilutes the heat.  2. it adds some extra tang as previously mentioned.  

Additional benefits are it extends the sauce into a greater quantity, and if a sauce is too thick it thins it out a bit.

Recent comment on my recipes is that they are not vinegary tasting.  



#14 Pharthan

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 09:13 AM

 

Great information, salsalady! 

 

I did not see one question answered in that post -- do I need to be concerned about the pH level if I consume all the salsa I make within 1-2 weeks, and it is refrigerated when not on the table?  You recommend a pH of 4.0, and this is needed under what circumstances? 
 

 

(This isn't a dumb question, by the way!)
I'm not sure there's anything else to add! All good advice (from more experienced people than myself), but to summarize everything said in my own words to make sure everything is clear:


1. Vinegar isn't necessary, but if your pH is >4.0, you will probably want to fridge it to ensure safety. If you boil the sauce before you bottle it (in a likewise boiled bottle) it will also last for quite some time. <4.0 is "shelf-stable," meaning it doesn't need to be refrigerated, though most prefer to kick the pH down even lower for safety. (i.e. Vinegar is a good preservative)

 

2. Adjust vinegar-water levels for personal taste.

 

3. Hot sauce making isn't so much a science as an art... in regards to ingredients. There's lots of science behind it, but what you use is often up to personal choice. So long as you follow a few hard rules (Boil your containers, either keep pH down or keep it refrigerated, preferably both if you can, cooking helps but can adjust flavor).


One other thing to experiment with:
Different kinds of vinegar. A lot of your recipes, particularly habanero recipes, tend to tell you to use ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar). ACV imparts a lot of its own flavor. White wine or red wine vinegar imparts less, but also do tend to make it very sweet, though less "vinegary." White distilled vinegar is more flat "vinegar" with less another flavor. I personally use White House White Distilled Vinegar. It's milder than other white distilled vinegar and doesn't risk masking the flavor of the sauce itself.

Testing out a few different kinds of vinegar - even different brands of the same vinegar - may allow you to use more vinegar to improve the pH for safety without compromising the taste you want. If you don't have a lot of the peppers to work with, do what you know works. I'm not currently working with any harder-to-get peppers, so I have little to worry about - I'm just using store-bought jalapenos, serranos, and habaneros, so I can make a lot cheaper and can afford to lose entire batches without much worry. They're good to experiment with.

This being said, this reminds me that I probably need to lower the vinegar in my recipes...



#15 salsalady

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 06:36 PM

I think I need to make one of those flow charts of....

Is the sauce fermented, yes this way, no that way...
Is the pH below 4.2, yes this way, no that way...
Will the sauce be refrigerated from the start, yes this way, no that way...



:lol:

Edited by salsalady, 21 April 2019 - 06:38 PM.

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#16 Pharthan

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 07:56 PM

I think I need to make one of those flow charts of....

Is the sauce fermented, yes this way, no that way...
Is the pH below 4.2, yes this way, no that way...
Will the sauce be refrigerated from the start, yes this way, no that way...



:lol:

 

I could always draw one up, I just don't know all the rules.



#17 Derelict

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 11:17 AM

I think I need to make one of those flow charts of....

Is the sauce fermented, yes this way, no that way...
Is the pH below 4.2, yes this way, no that way...
Will the sauce be refrigerated from the start, yes this way, no that way...



:lol:

 

OK, you've just exposed my lack of knowledge more.  I expect a huge profusion of peppers from my garden this year and will have a million questions!  Keep an eye out, I'll make a new post soon.

 

But regarding what you say above ... why and when do you ferment the hot sauce?  That's a new one for me.  One day in the future, when I retire, I will make my own beer but I thought you only fermented alcohol.  Unless ... some genius here has invented ghost pepper whiskey?  I want a case!
 



#18 The Hot Pepper

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 11:26 AM

But regarding what you say above ... why and when do you ferment the hot sauce?  That's a new one for me.  One day in the future, when I retire, I will make my own beer but I thought you only fermented alcohol.  Unless ... some genius here has invented ghost pepper whiskey?  I want a case!

 

Try a little sauce called Tabasco. ;)



#19 Pharthan

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 04:42 PM

 

OK, you've just exposed my lack of knowledge more.  I expect a huge profusion of peppers from my garden this year and will have a million questions!  Keep an eye out, I'll make a new post soon.

 

But regarding what you say above ... why and when do you ferment the hot sauce?  That's a new one for me.  One day in the future, when I retire, I will make my own beer but I thought you only fermented alcohol.  Unless ... some genius here has invented ghost pepper whiskey?  I want a case!
 

 

Fermenting is a two-step process for the material.
The first part is the fermentation. If you use the right salt content (enough to kill bad bacteria, enough to leave lactobacillus) the mateiral will start to bubble up nicely, and you need to make sure you have an airlock or burp the jars regularly. This lowers the pH and helps to preserve the material. Fermentation occurs within the first month (almost always) and often starts after a few days, but may take weeks. It usually lasts for about a week.

It will start to settle down and enter the aging process, the second step, which shouldn't require any action on your part. Allowing it to age naturally in the jar and brine will help to deepen the flavors.



#20 salsalady

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 08:50 PM

http://thehotpepper....d-other-things/

This thread explains things pretty well.

Fermentation is one method of food preservation...like sauerkraut and kimchee. Other methods of preserving peppers is adding vinegar, dehydrating, freezing.

Edited by salsalady, 22 April 2019 - 08:53 PM.

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