Remember that pint o’ napalm I brewed up a couple of months ago? Well, I decided to try bottling some of it up as “gifts” this Xmas.
I ordered a case of Woozy 5-ounce round glass bottles with caps and dripper inserts from Specialty Bottle and a pack of 2×4 Post It labels from 3M.
When I finally felt brave enough (after opening the kitchen window and turning on the exhaust fan), I took the original bottle out of the fridge, cracked open, and took a whiff – big mistake. This stuff hadn’t mellowed anymore than battery acid would have. I was surprised it hadn’t eaten clean through the bottle.
I tried to pour it into a sauce pan, but it wouldn’t budge out of the bottle. I added a little hot water and cautiously gave it a little shake to loosen it up. It grudgingly poured out like orange lava.
I rinsed out the bottle with a little more hot water and thinned the sauce with cider vinegar until it got to the consistency I wanted (about a quart of vinegar and a cup of hot water total).
Time to taste. I carefully stuck a toothpick in the sauce and was pleased when it didn’t ignite. I tasted the end of the toothpick – oh, it’s hot, but just hot with no other flavors really coming through at all.
All pain and no flavor makes for a dull hot sauce, so I decided to try boosting the taste. I added 3 tablespoons of kosher salt, a table spoon of brown sugar, and a few grinds of black pepper and gave it another taste – hot, but much better. I could just taste the onion and garlic. It was tangy, but still lacked the bite that the lime and orange juice were supposed to add.
I brought the mix to a simmer and added the juice of one lime and another tablespoon of salt – okay, still really hot, but there is enough other stuff going on taste-wise now to make the pain worth it.
It’s bottling time!
We ended up with 10 bottles – just enough to share for the holidays. It’s a fun little gift to give, and initial reviews have been favorable, but when I try it side by side with Marie Sharp’s there is just no comparison – my sauce has the heat, and some decent flavor, but not nearly as much as it should.
I almost think this is a case where I’d want to make the base (veggies, spices, vinegar) and get it tasting good before I add the chiles. Certainly worth a try next time.
Another thing I noticed is that the sauce separates pretty quickly, with the clear vinegar moving to the top. This is probably why a lot of hot sauces add a little xanthan gum to the mix.