Choosing Gourmet Hot Sauces

Have you become tired and disillusioned with the “barely hot enough to make a difference” hot sauces that you find on tables at your local restaurants? If you’re a chili head in the making, that’s hardly surprising. After all, those condiments barely rank on the Scoville scale. And, because they’re usually mass-produced, they usually don’t carry the flavor you’d expect from a sauce. Once you’ve found yourself in the predicament of wanting a better hot sauce, but not knowing where to turn, you know it’s time to invest in some gourmet hot sauces! Here are some tips on choosing gourmet hot sauces.

Starting with the Scoville Rankings

There are hot sauces, like Tabasco, and then there are gourmet hot sauces such as Mad Dog 357 Hot Sauce. While mass production is one of the biggest differences when it comes to discerning regular condiments from gourmet hot sauces, it’s not the only one.

Gourmet hot sauces are crafted for a group of people that take their heat seriously. As a result, many of these sauces are hot as Hades in your mouth. That’s not to say that there aren’t milder gourmet hot sauces available on the market, only that you won’t find nearly as much information about them. They simply don’t have the following that ridiculously super hot sauces have.

You’ve really got to start your search for your favorite gourmet hot sauce with the Scoville range you’re comfortable with. If you’re experienced when it comes to the mind-bending burn of super hot sauces - and you’re the one that always orders the wings with three blazing red fire symbols next to it - then you’ll want to start your search in the super hot sauce range. That’s generally between 100,000 Scovilles and 1 million Scovilles. That’s obviously a wide range, so you’ll want to consider your own limits in that realm.

If you’re not sure of the heat, then opt for a gourmet hot sauce that falls underneath these figures. For example, Mad Dog Inferno carries 90,000 Scovilles of heat with every bite. It’s still a lot more potent than Tabasco (which is around 5000 Scovilles), but every batch is still hand-measured and crafted. Now that’s a gourmet hot sauce!

What Do You Want from Your Gourmet Hot Sauce?

It may seem like a silly question, but it’s really not. When selecting a gourmet hot sauce, you should really keep in mind whether you want it primarily as a condiment or as a food additive that you use when cooking. There’s a big difference between the two. It comes across, typically, in different ways.

The main difference between gourmet hot sauces that you add to your food once it’s on the table, and one that you add during the prep process is the amount of heat you can expect. Although they are not technically gourmet hot sauces, pepper extracts may be just the thing you need to experience the crazy rush that comes with a dose of capsaicin. One drop will transform an entire pot of food, not just that bite of chicken you’ve got on your fork!

That’s not to say that you can’t cook with super fiery gourmet hot sauces – or even milder ones. It’s just that these carry an entirely different flavor, and they’re typically something you add to that forkful of chicken. This all sounds much more serious than it needs to be… as long as you have the time and desire to experiment with all the different gourmet sauces available, we say go for it!

What about the Flavor of Gourmet Hot Sauces?

If you’re looking for flavor as well as heat from your gourmet hot sauce, you’ve got a range to choose from – and that includes the handcrafted Mad Dog range from Ashley Foods. Many hot sauces start with the habanero pepper as its base. Not only are these chilies manically hot, but they’re also incredibly flavorful, so it makes sense as a starting point.

That doesn’t mean you’re limited to habaneros when shopping for your perfect gourmet hot sauce. There are plenty of options available. Some of the super-hot sauces make use of Carolina Reapers or Scorpion peppers. These peppers will affect the heat rating that you can expect, but if you’re looking for a milder gourmet hot sauce, you can always turn towards jalapenos or other milder peppers.

There’s one final thing you should know about gourmet hot sauces – you should always grab an extra bottle when you find one you like. Because these recipes are hand-crafted, they do experience variations over the years. Once you’ve got your favorite mix of heat and flavor, you won’t want to miss out on a single bite of gourmet hot sauce.


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