You drizzle it on your tacos, but do you really know the history of hot sauce? Surprisingly, its first appearances trace back to the ancient Aztecs in Mexico. They began cultivating chilis as early as 7000 BC, and hot sauce has been a key component of Mexican cuisine and culture ever since.
But there is more to the world of hot sauce than meets the eye. There are countless chili varieties behind each unique hot sauce recipe to choose from, cooking methods, ingredients, and heat levels.
A Brief History of Hot Sauce
While it’s true that hot sauce has been used for thousands of years, European settlers had a part in the popularity of hot sauce, introducing new ingredients and spices into the mix. As buzz about the condiment grew, hot sauce chefs focused on specific, desirable flavors, experimenting, and breeding different peppers.
The first commercially bottled hot sauce options hit U.S. shelves for public sale in the early 1800s. Then, in the 1860s, Edmund McIlhenny started farming chilis on his plantation in Avery Island, Louisiana, and Tabasco sauce was born. This gave rise to the widespread popularity of hot sauce, and other brands quickly sprung up. Now, chilis are still growing in Avery Island to this day, and almost every region and culture of the world have developed their own signature hot sauce.
Of course, hot sauce has gone through fads like everything else. While producers used to battle to create the most heat in their hot sauce recipes, consumer tastes have changed, and the focus is more on flavor.
These days, hot sauce has grown into a billion-dollar industry in the United States alone. That’s greater than all other condiment sales combined!
Hot Sauce Heat Levels
The Scoville Scale is an official means of quantifying the spice levels of hot sauce. It’s based on the concentration of capsaicinoids (the chemical compounds responsible for heat in peppers) found in the chilis used for sauces.
At the bottom of the scale sits the bell pepper, with a Scoville Heat Index (SHU) rating of 0. The hottest chili pepper in the world is the Carolina Reaper, which has a SHU rating of around 2.2 million!
Types of Hot Sauces
Available hot sauce styles vary greatly depending on where you are in the world, especially in terms of consistency and other added ingredients.
In the US, Louisiana-style sauces that are thin and vinegary are most common. New Mexico style sauces are popular too. They come in both red and green varieties and are much thicker. In place of vinegar, they contain added spices like cumin and garlic.
Taqueria 27 Hot Sauce Specialties
At Taqueria 27, there are 3 signature, house-made hot sauces served alongside our menu items:
- Chile Morita gets its flavor from dried, smoked jalapeño, and chile de árbol. It has a chipotle-like, smoky taste and medium heat.
- Agua Chile is a combination of serrano and jalapeño peppers pickled with onion and salt. It’s generally the mildest.
- Habanero contains guajillo peppers and is the hottest of the bunch. Although it packs a punch, it has a nice citrus flavor.
It’s Time to Spice Up Your Life
Now that you know the history of hot sauce, hot sauce heat ratings, and the common ingredients behind your favorite hot sauce recipes, all that’s left to do is eat!
Join us at one of our 5 convenient locations or order online and get Taqueria 27 delivered to your door. We’d love to see you soon so you can try our housemade hot sauces. You can even pick up a bottle of your favorite hot sauce to bring the heat home.