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tutorial Chile pepper weights, measures, and other things


Business Member
Hopefully this will answer a few more frequently asked questions about chile weights and measures like "how many pods do I need to make a quart of sauce"?
A simple adage to remember is- "A pint's a pound the world around".
1 pound fresh pods/produce = 2 cups (1 pint) finely ground up pods/produce
1 pound jalapenos pods = about 1/2 gallon = 2 Ltr
1 pound habanero or scorpion pods = about 1 gallon = 4 Ltr
it takes more thin walled pods to equal a pound than thick walled meaty pods like jalapeno or rocoto.
If someone wanted to make a fermented mash using a gallon jar (4 Ltr)-
the gallon jar should be about 3/4 full = 12 cups (3 Ltr) = 6 pounds pods/produce (2.7 kilo)
1 pound of fresh pods = about 1 ounce of dried (dehydrated) flakes or powder
1 ounce of powder = 1/4 cup
1 gallon sauce = (24) 5 oz woozy bottles = (12) 10 oz woozy bottles
500 grams fresh pods = 30 grams dried powder
1 gallon = 4 liters
1 pound = 450 grams
5oz woozy = 148 ml
Metric conversions are rounded off to make it easy to estimate. 
These are approximate measurements and people need to use common sense when making estimates.  When using the Pints-to-Pounds method, the equation is assuming the produce is finely ground up as for a sauce or puree.  If the chile/produce pieces are in larger chunks like for making pickled peppers, they won't fill up the jars and there is a lot more empty space around the pieces, so the same pounds of produce would fill twice as many jars. 
For pickling -5 pounds pods/produce = 10 pint jars
For sauce- 5 pounds pods/produce = 5 pint jars
Edit by request-
Weights of different salts, sugar, spices, black pepper
Item                  1 cup          1 Tablespoon
white sugar       206g          11g
kosher salt         143g          9g
sea salt              260g         14g
sea salt crystals 280g         ---
Himalayan pink  277g         ---
table salt            320g          17g
Blk Pepper Fine      108g       6g
Blk Pepper Coarse  122g      7g
Herb Flakes      36g   (like basil, oregano 1 cup)
Garlic minced   105g  (2/3 cup)
Garlic powder   101g  (2/3 cup)     
The grain size of the salt makes a huge difference, grain size of black pepper didn't seems to make much difference.


Table salt, himalayan pink, kosher

Notice the huge difference in the salt weights.  If you've been using kosher salt and then   "OOPS!  I'm out of kosher salt!  No Problem!  I'll just use the same tablespoon amount of table salt......."
yea, that's not gonna work out so well.... :(...  But if the recipe is by weight, it's a piece of cake to sub one salt for the other.
How much vinegar to use?
Acids like vinegars and lemon/lime/citrus juices are used to lower the pH of sauces and pickled products to achieve a safe pH level for extended food storage life.  For most beginners, use only 5% or higher acidity vinegars.   
Based on review of several approved extension service canning recipes, they use a ratio of about 1 cup acids to 10 cups produce, however! do not assume that just by using that ratio, the product is shelf stable (meaning it can be left unrefrigerated or un-processed).  The resulting sauce must be properly bottled/canned or refrigerated. 
A gallon is a gallon is.....not a gallon....
It's recommended to actually measure out the vinegar when keeping track of amounts in a recipe.  As the picture shows, even gallons of vinegar can have as much as 1 cup differences from jug to jug.

here are a couple sites with salsa and hot sauce recipes-
This website from Colorado State has some excellent Pickled Pepper recipes.
Making Hot Sauce 101 has more detailed information about processing, canning, and bottling homemade sauces. and also has links to other resources.
What's the difference between fermenting a sauce and just cooking a sauce?
In order to be considered safe to be stored for an extended period of time, sauces need to have a low pH or be pressure canned.  pH numbers indicate the levels of acidity or alkalinity in foods or other things like hydroponics, fish tanks, etc.  Neutral pH is 7.0.  Things with a pH of above 7.0 are alkaline, things below 7.0 are acidic.  Sauces should be below 4.0 (minimum), preferable below 3.5 pH, to be considered safe to process/can/bottle and be considered shelf stable using the common Hot Fill-Hold processing method.
2 ways to lower the pH of foods is by fermentation or by adding acids.  Fermentation uses good bacteria to eat up the natural sugars in chiles and other produce to the point where the pH is below 4.0 and considered safe.  Kimchee and sauerkraut also use fermentation for food preservation. 
Fermentation requires time, anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months, but once it's properly done, the resulting product has a low pH and can be processed or refrigerated without the addition of any other vinegar or acids. 
The other method of getting a safe pH in a sauce or product is to simply add vinegar or lemon/lime juice to pods/produce.  Using vinegar to lower the pH is quick, the sauce can be cooked, bottled and eaten immediately.   
Fermenting Peppers 101 is an excellent tutorial on fermentation.
What is a mash?
Technically, a "mash" is anything that is ground up very fine, it refers to texture and consistency.  A "mash" does not automatically mean the ground up stuff is fermented! 
Lots of chiles are sold commercially as "Mash" and there are any number of combinations of ground up chiles, some with salt, some without salt, some with vinegar, some without, some fermented, some not.....It's an ongoing process to make people aware that "mash" does not mean "fermented".   A lot of people assume mash=fermented, but that is not correct. 
What is capsaicin?
"Capsaicin" is one of many capsaicinoid compounds found in chilies.  There are over 20 different capsaicinoid compounds in most chiles.  The different capsaicinoids react differently in the mouth and body causing the mouth burn and the body endorphin rush.  Different chiles have different amounts of these different compounds, which is why some chiles will hit hard and fast in the mouth, others will hit the gut, others will have the slow creeping burn.
All these different capsaicinoids have been erroneously lumped together under the general heading of 'capsaicin' because that one capsaicinoid is the most prominent one in most chiles.  Google is your friend for more information on capsaicinoids.
How Hot is it?
Scott Roberts has put together a very comprehensive Scoville Scale chart that includes chiles, sauces, and other hot products like Pure Evil and extracts.  It's been recently updated to include a lot of the new chiles on the market (of all heat levels, not just the superhots) and has a great feature that it is Sort-able for sauces only, chiles only, or both. 
Back to the original question...."How many pods do I need to make a quart of sauce?"   Well, (assuming there will be a few other things in the sauce also), if you're using rocotos, probably 10, if you're using White Bullet Habaneros...probably 2000!  :lol:
Hope this helps.  Check out the above links for further details.  Feel free to post other ratios and equations. 
Perfect, thanks man! Always nice when someone else takes the time to put a bunch of good info in one place. Very much appreciated!
JoynersHotPeppers said:
Does the time of the day they are picked and the last time the wind blew south matter?  :rolleyes:
only if you're standing on your left foot and Mercury is in retrograde.  :lol:
Thanks a lot of info. You saved me a lot of home. Added this yo my favorites to read over my lunch breaks. Thanks. Looking to make some sauces. Currently having fun with my powder. Not much to brag about but due to the low count of pods only have a little. Thanks again.
arijer said:
Dept of Physical Science and Engineering?
DPSE = Drunk Post Sober Edit
:lol:  Happens occasionally here on THP  ;) 
bucdout57- glad it's helpful.  Have fun with the sauces when you get to it.