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recipe Cloning Poblano's "Mexican Hot Sauce"

Hi everyone,
 
I've been a hot sauce fiend for a bit and my favorite, all time, are the Red Jalapeno and/or Mexican Hot Sauce produced by Poblano Hot Sauce in Tucson. I go through about 30 bottles a year; it's so good I ship it in from Tucson - it's not sold outside of AZ as far as I'm aware. They stopped producing for a few weeks last year and I thought I was out of luck forever. Fortunately they're in production again, but it was a scare! 
 
So, I am here for one reason: to recreate this hot sauce.
 
The recipe is a closely guarded secret, so there's no asking for tips or tricks from the manufacturers. I've been compiling notes for a few months now and I'm just going to data dump it here and log my progress as I go. To say I've been taking notes may be an understatement. I've scoured the internet for articles and newspaper clippings about Poblano Hot Sauce. I've search the pictures in those articles carefully to see what equipment they may have. I've read them thoroughly for ANY clue about the process or recipe.
 
The flavor is not sweet at all, just a little bit vinegary with a very clear contribution by spices. Texture is smooth with a little bit of grit from the spices. No seeds are visible.
 
If you're familiar with this hot sauce and have some thoughts - please let me know.
 
What I think I know:
 
The sauce is not cooked
  • Oil separates when left to sit for a few days; based on previous research, I suspect this may mean it is uncooked.
  • Reading local news articles about the makers states that the only piece of equipment they have is a "chile grinder"; there is no mention of a stove and none shown in any photograph of the kitchen.
Peppers and spices pickle for days at room temperature. I do not believe this is fermented.
  • ..."barrels holding jalapenos, spices, and mustard that marinate together of the course of several days".
The big unknowns are the composition of "chili peppers" and "spices"
  • surprise to no one
  • the original recipe called for chiltepin peppers, but people complained it was too hot so they no longer use chiltepins
I believe spices include...
  • mustard seed
  • turmeric
  • paprika
  • garlic powder
  • cumin (I THINK I can taste this)
 
Listed Ingredients:
 

  • Mexican Hot Sauce (In order)

    Habanero
  • Chili peppers
  • spices
  • distilled vinegar
  • mustard seed (>= 28 g per bottle)
  • salt (11 g sodium per bottle based on nutritional information, should be 28 g Salt per bottle)
  • turmeric (<= 28 g per bottle)
  • paprika
  • garlic powder


 
Articles about Poblano. This is it:

 
 

Attachments

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Not for nothing, but I believe you will eventually come out with a hot sauce that you will love 10x more than the Poblano's sauce that you are trying to clone.
 
The best way to clone a recipe is by dumpster diving (not that I have ever done that), at least you might be able to come up with evidence of all the ingredients used.  You can also stake out the parking lot to see what delivery companies are dropping off. :)  Surprised this wasn't suggested earlier, although I see a tour of the facility has been (also beneficial as you can really check out what equipment is in the place).
 
Carrots are an ingredient I did not see mentioned yet.  Some people chop them to cook with the sauce, then strain them out.  Some people will add carrot juice in low quantities.  Either way it mellows some of the acidity.
 
Work has continued, although i haven't posted lately.
 
I started counting calories this year to lose a couple lbs and I've been budgeting about 60-90 cal for Poblano hot sauce each day, which is crazy for a vinegar based hot sauce.
 
Then I looked at the label more carefully - 5 g serving has 1 g fat, 2 g carbs, 2 g protein, and 0.4 g salt. That's 5.4 g per 5 g serving and doesn't allow for any volume due to water or vinegar, which has to be at least 70% of the sauce. For that reason, I'm back to experimenting with water. Took a hot sauce that's been in my fridge for a few months just relaxing, watered it down 25% and it's pretty good. Anyway, maybe this is useful for other people trying to clone sauces. Maybe not.
 
Back to it!
 
I have basically given up on it, but still make hot sauce.
 
Recently, I've come to the conclusion that there has to be added water and the caloric/protein/fat/carb information can't be relied on because its impossible as listed.
 
I do want to get back to it sometime, we'll see. If you're asking because you're also a fan, let me know what progress you make and I'd be happy to keep working on it in parallel with someone!
 
It must be tough. No, I've never been able to get a bottle over here in the UK and I was hoping to try and make a similar flavoured sauce. I've heard a few folk rave about it but maybe I'll just fork out for the delivery costs.
 
2 years on - still at it, sporadically.
 
Made another hot sauce today. I had an interesting email conversation with a guy who insists that Poblano actually went out of business in October. I haven't been able to buy their hot sauce for quite a while, so maybe that's true.
 
Recipe:
Fresh habanero: 99 g
Water: 155 g
Vinegar: 130 g
Mustard (toasted whole & ground): ~6 g
Cumin (toasted whole & ground): ~6 g
Coriander (toasted whole & ground): ~2 g
Red Chile (NM extra hot, dry, toasted, rehydrated): 37 g
Salt: 6 g
Roasted red halapeno: 42
 
It LOOKS pretty similar, and tastes closer than most things I've made. Next time, double mustard and coriander. I'll use more vinegar, too, slightly less water.
 

ahayastani

Extreme Member
m012741k0m847 said:
2 years on - still at it, sporadically.
 
Made another hot sauce today. I had an interesting email conversation with a guy who insists that Poblano actually went out of business in October. I haven't been able to buy their hot sauce for quite a while, so maybe that's true.
 
Recipe:
Fresh habanero: 99 g
Water: 155 g
Vinegar: 130 g
Mustard (toasted whole & ground): ~6 g
Cumin (toasted whole & ground): ~6 g
Coriander (toasted whole & ground): ~2 g
Red Chile (NM extra hot, dry, toasted, rehydrated): 37 g
Salt: 6 g
Roasted red halapeno: 42
 
It LOOKS pretty similar, and tastes closer than most things I've made. Next time, double mustard and coriander. I'll use more vinegar, too, slightly less water.
 
I just discovered this thread and read it from the beginning. An interesting project you have there.
 
The Mexican cuisine strongly adheres to tradition. My theory would be that the "founding father" developed the recipe from commonly known ("accepted") ingredients. So I checked which spices are used in salsas in traditional Mexican cuisine and list them here. Perhaps you see something that you recognise and rings a bell: pimienta (black pepper), comino (cumin), pimentón (paprika powder), orégano (oregano), piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar), canela (cinnamon), ajonjolí (sesame seeds), pepitas de calabaza (pumpkin seeds), cilantro (coriander). Other ingredients (often added in mole) might be clavo (clove), tomillo (thyme), pimienta gorda (allspice), jengibre (ginger), semillas de anís (anise seed). [distilled from Larousse de la Cocina Mexicana]
 
Spices can be toasted, ground, ... you know ;) Good luck!
 

ahayastani

Extreme Member
Another thing is the mustard... Looking at their label, I'd say that mustard seeds with turmeric and vinegar is the basis of a traditional mustard. This allows a different perspective to look at the same sauce: mustard with some extra chile. Also, could "red jalapeño" cover chipotle as well?
 
Sure I bet I could get away with prepared yellow mustard, but it's not something I normally have on hand so i went with toasted seeds. I'll consider that for next time.
 
Red jalapeno could describe chipotle, but even I can identify the taste of a chipotle! Very distinct. I'm pretty confident there is no chipotle - or anything smoked at all - in this sauce.
 

The Hot Pepper

Founder
Admin
m012741k0m847 said:
Thank you for the suggestions, ahayastani!
 
I think you're right on about the coriander. Maybe a little thyme, too. I'll keep this in mind for the next batch.
 
You already put coriander! Have you put any Mexican oregano yet?
 
Alright, here's the latest and closest version. Definitely not final.
 
I really believe that this recipe is pickled peppers blended with dry spices. I started with a 7 cup container pack to the brim with de-stemmed fresh habaneros (~1.5 lbs before removing stems) and about 15 cloves of garlic. Pickled in white vinegar + salt. Didn't measure the salt at this point. Let that pickle for a couple weeks and blended it all together.
 
Recipe:
1/2 cup of the blended pickled habaneros
1/4 cup water
 
1 tsp garlic powder
3 tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
~1-1.5 tbsp of deli mustard - it's what I had handy.
 
Stir stir stir. Put in fridge. Done.
 
Next time, might decrease the sugar and try pickling red jalapenos with the habs. Might consider increasing water to 1/2 cup. Might consider filtering or straining. Maybe roast some of these red jalapenos before pickling.
 

The Hot Pepper

Founder
Admin
I'm not sure I agree on using pickled peppers for a couple reasons. That is a prepared product so it would be more expensive to use, unless they pickled themselves but then I would ask why, as in, if you use fresh peppers and vinegar in your sauce, when the sauce "melds" over time it is essentially a pickling. Maybe you just need to add more vinegar? 
 

ahayastani

Extreme Member
The Hot Pepper said:
I'm not sure I agree on using pickled peppers for a couple reasons. That is a prepared product so it would be more expensive to use, unless they pickled themselves but then I would ask why, as in, if you use fresh peppers and vinegar in your sauce, when the sauce "melds" over time it is essentially a pickling. Maybe you just need to add more vinegar? 
 
Pickling involves large chunks and whole spices (at least that's the way I do it...), whereas a sauce incorporates finely ground/chopped ingredients. Even though in both case scenarios the ingredients can be the same, the equilibrium that sets in is not the same and their taste will likely be different. Finely grounded spices will liberate a stronger aroma, though this won't necessarily result in a better taste :)
 

The Hot Pepper

Founder
Admin
I agree but I don't think I would ever taste a hot sauce and say "they must use pickled peppers." I would assume it was either pickling type spices in the hot sauce or the vinegar that was doing it.
 
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