For My Love Tabasco Has Rewarded Me

Tabasco is one of those companies, like Guinness, that has the sort of history and ethic that I am proud to give my patronage to. Obviously, I wouldn't use it if I didn't like it, but I do like it, and it only helps that the company is awesome. There's a pretty solid history of the company over at wikipedia.

I love that Tabasco has icon status across the country and around much of the world without doing all the things we are told is necessary to become an icon. Starbucks recently streamlined their logo because they thought it a vital part of taking the step from being a very successful company to a "global brand". People have to be able to glance and recognize the fruits of our marketing: Nike, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Starbucks! Massive marketing campaigns, streamlined visual profile, get that recognition and loyalty!

Or you could just make an amazing product, maintain its integrity, manage your resources well, and expand with care. Starbucks went through a huge expansion a few years ago, trying to generate that revenue for its shareholders, and they overextended themselves. Closed a ton of stores. Got some people fired.

[caption id="attachment_9124" align="aligncenter" width="180" caption="Not streamlined. Highly recognizable."][/caption]

Tabasco has had trouble of its own, and big growth of its own, but like Guinness, its expansion has been controlled by the family (I believe that in Tabasco's case all the stock is owned by the family, or inherited from it), and the integrity of the brand and product maintained. They don't bring trouble on themselves. No existential crises about staying true to their core values, or wondering whether they're diluting the brand by being more like McDonald's, or whatever the dilution might be.

Their core value is being a family that sells hot sauce. And there can't be any dilution when we're talking hot sauce!

Beer is to be made with water, barley, hops, and yeast. That is all. You may choose to enjoy a gimmicky addition or process occasionally (a lambic, some coffee added), but you very rightly resent beer makers who try to pass off unnoticed substitute ingredients...rice or corn syrup being chief among those.

And so it must be with hot sauce. There is not a sacred quadrivium as there is in beer, but please, no oil, no water, no tomatoes, no sugar. What is more pure and holy in the hot sauce world than Tabasco? Tabasco peppers, vinegar, salt. Aged in white oak barrels for a couple of years. No overweening ambition, just simple perfection. Light mouthfeel, simple and beautiful flavor profile.

Boys and girls, I am now the proud owner of a gallon jug of Tabasco Pepper Sauce. I participated in a Facebook thang called Tabasco Nation, which I didn't tell anyone about because I didn't want Tabasco to run out of the grand prize, that magnificent glass gallon jug. But now that the prize is safely in my hands I feel that my fears were silly, and that you still have time to get one for yourself. Especially since a lot of the "points" you earn toward prizes can be earned all at once. As soon as you join you can do the activities from weeks past and rack up some points pretty quickly

[caption id="attachment_9127" align="aligncenter" width="287" caption="Remember that I'm 6'9" and can easily palm a basketball. This thing is huge."][/caption]

One of the features of Tabasco Nation was the "Drop Counter", in which we were asked to record the number of drops we consumed each day. Attention Tabasco Marketing Department, please note: even though there was no extra reward for using more Tabasco sauce, my consumption dramatically increased when I started reporting my "drops" per day. Cleverly done, Tabasco. Cleverly done.

After my second prize, a bottle of "Family Edition" made from hyper-aged peppers, arrived at the house, I started getting very very excited about the prospect of winning the big kahuna, and the kids picked up on it. One of the kids wanted to know how much "passion" I had to show for Tabasco in order to win this prize. I told him that I didn't have to show any passion at all, really...but I added that I have a ton of passion for it anyway.

I like lots of hot sauces. You can find me a hotter, I'll enjoy it. You can find me a fuller-flavored one, I'll dig it. You can find me a sharper one, I'll relish it.

You won't find a more perfect one.

Here's the video on receiving the jug for my YouTube channel. You can watch it on YouTube instead of here if you wish to read the comments and see how excited for me the regular viewers were.


  1. I do love tabasco, but in my quest of the last two years or so to stock my own pantry as much as possible, I have taken to making my own fermented hot sauce, which I is surprisingly easy to do. And while an independent double-blind taste test might show tabasco to be the superior product, there's nothing quite as good as shaking some of your own home-made hot sauce onto your eggs in the morning. As a bonus, all of the blended up skins and seeds that get strained out along the way are only a few cloves of minced garlic away from being an outstanding hot chile paste.

  2. You sold me with the last little bit.

  3. If you ever decide that you want to get into pickling/fermenting/preserving/canning stuff, I highly recommend "The Joy of Pickling" and "The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves", both by Linda Ziedrich. If you'd like, I can send you instructions for my hot sauce, it's incredibly easy.

  4. I've almost picked up "The Joy of Pickling" at the library a few times. Kimberly does all the canning at the house right now, and she makes some mean extracts. I would love for you to send me the instructions, or you can just post 'em here.

  5. Oh yes, I had forgotten all about Kimberly's website. I have seen some of her canning and gardening efforts over there. I am hoping to get our garden up and running this spring, last year's attempt ended up being neglected and didn't produce anything worth eating. Too busy making food for other people to take care of my own, unfortunately.

    Definitely pick up "Joy of Pickling" if you get the chance. My copy is well thumbed and more than a bit stained up from regular use. It has some of the clearest descriptions of the canning process (which so many books seem determined to describe in the most convoluted, complicated manner possible) that I have come across.

    I'll send you instructions when I get home and find the correct ratios to use for making the brine for the peppers.


  6. Mm-kay, this looks long, but it's really simple. So. All you need to do this is:
    Peppers, I usually use red (i.e. ripe) jalapenos or something from a local farm, if I can get them.
    Pickling salt - it's very fine so you don't generally have to boil your brine to get it to dissolve. Don't substitute table salt or kosher salt because they have different weights for the same volume, your ratio will be off.
    A container (I use a pitcher for large batches) that can hold all of the peppers with some room to spare.
    A large ziploc type bag that will reach to the sides of your container. With a 1 gallon pitcher, I find that a gallon-size bag is perfect.

    Stem and halve, but do not seed, the peppers. Put them into the container. Make your brine with a ratio of 2.5 Tbsp pickling salt to 1 quart of water. The salt should dissolve with some vigorous stirring. You'll want appx. 1 quart of brine for each pound of peppers. Pour just enough brine into the container to completely cover the peppers, should be about half of your brine. Push the empty ziploc bag into the container and fill it with the remaining brine. This will act as a weight to keep the peppers submerged, as well as keeping the surface of the brine from contacting air (yeast will grow on the surface if it is kept in contact with air, which is not what we want). Furthermore, should the bag become punctured, it is full of brine and will not alter the ratio of salt to water in the container. Label the container with the date and leave it at room temperature. I just leave mine on the kitchen counter.

    The next day, make sure the brine is still covering the peppers and add more if necessary (sometimes they can absorb enough brine to swell over the top of the brine).

    The brine will probably get a bit cloudy in the next few days, but this is not a problem. What is a (minor) problem is if a scum develops in the jar. This (usually) means that yeast is growing in your brine. You can check this by picking up the brine bag and running your finger along the bottom of it. If it feels slimy, rinse it thoroughly with hot water, wiping off all of the scum, and skim any scum off of the surface of the brine in your container with a spoon or small ladle, then replace the bag.

    After 3 weeks on the counter, start tasting your peppers and brine. They should be mildly sour. I like my sauce really sour, so I let mine sit for 4-5 weeks. Once the peppers are as sour as you'd like, strain the brine into a non-reactive (i.e. stainless steel) pan, boil it, skimming any scum that develops, then cool it completely. You can just pour the brine over the peppers and store them in the fridge at this point, but I like to make hot sauce, so I put the peppers and brine into the blender and puree them for a good minute or two. Strain the puree through a fine mesh or cheesecloth into a bowl (you'll want to use a spoon or spatula to really push through as much liquid as you can), and you'll have really tasty tabasco-style hot sauce (albeit not aged for three years in a barrel) in the bowl and some spicy hot chile paste in your strainer. I usually put some of the sauce into a cruet and the rest into a mason jar and keep both in the fridge, where it will be good for months and months (but you'll probably consume it all long before that). For the paste, mince as much garlic as you think you'd like, and mix it in with the paste for an outstanding chile paste that is much hotter than the sauce.


  7. Wow, dude, so good. I'll do it. If you email me a couple of photos (joffre - at - thebirdandbaby - dot - com) I'd love to put this comment up as a guest post.

  8. I'll see what I can do. I've got music practice tonight after work, so it may not happen until tomorrow afternoon...


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