Taubasco Sauce ♯

As may be readily observed in this collection, I like my food with a little piquant kick to it. One of my favorite means for delivering this stimulus is Tabasco® Sauce—a wonderful product. I used to put it on my eggs most mornings, dash-dash it in stews, and squirt it on my leftovers for lunch.

In my youth, growing up in Texas, there was an old saying, “There are no empty bottles of Tabasco.” This was a testament to the cautious popularity of the product outside of Louisiana, for one bottle lasted an awfully long time in those days before the piquancy craze spread throughout the United States. Until recently my household consumed several large bottles every year.

Its stated ingredients are simple: vinegar, red pepper, and salt. It is fermented and aged in oak casks for up to three years. This process makes it a little more expensive than other competing Louisiana-style sauces, a quality sustained by its popularity. Nor does one ingest a lot of salt when using Tabasco®, but still, there’s salt in it. Further, I just hate to throw away (recycle) the bottle when I have emptied one!

For these reasons, I wondered if I could reduce expense, eliminate salt, and reuse those bottles by making my own, and, if so, how good would it be? The recipe below is the result of my efforts. The answer to my self-directed question is that I now rarely use true Tabasco®. So if you would like a less expensive, sodium free, and environmentally more friendly hot sauce, then the recipe below is for you. Its taste is essentially the same—perhaps just a little milder. And it is easy to make, as it takes less time to process than to assemble all the ingredients.

I make my (cleverly named) Taubasco Sauce in three flavors: chipotle, cayenne, and chile de árbol.* Chipotle, which is a smoked jalapeño, has the least piquancy of the three and is the most aromatic. If you want the chipotle flavor, but don’t have chipotle powder, add a little liquid smoke, as noted below. The cayenne and Tabasco chiles are in the same heat range, and chile de árbol is maybe just a bit hotter. Sometimes, if I think I need a little more heat, I add just a little habanero powder to kick it up a little.

I suggest you set x = 0 in the recipe below to begin with, and later experiment to reach the heat level you prefer. Those desiring a milder sauce may wish to use ground jalapeño chile instead, or one of even lower Scoville rating.

  • 12 oz white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp cayenne, chipotle, or chile árbol powder
  • x tsp ground habanero chile
  • ½ tsp guar gum
  • 1 tsp <salt>
  • ¼ tsp liquid smoke (optional)

Put all ingredients in a blender and buzz at highest speed for two minutes. Pour into an emptied and cleaned 12 oz Tabasco® jar, replace the shaker spout on top, and apply the original cap. Label jar as appropriate to distinguish contents. Store it on the shelf alongside other similar products. Let age at least one day before use, if you can resist the temptation of immediate consumption.