The McIlhenny Company, makers of the original Tabasco ® Sauce, still use the same methods perfected on Avery Island in Louisiana a hundred years ago.
They pick fresh, ripe Tabasco peppers grown on the island, grind them up and cover with salt to make a pepper mash. The salted mash goes directly into oak barrels. The mash is packed down and the top is sealed with oak planks into which holes have been drilled.
The barrels are topped with a thick layer of salt and allowed to ferment. The salt layer serves as a permeable barrier that allows gases to escape but allows no bacteria, fruit flies, etc. access to the mash. McIlhenny allows them to age three years in these oak barrels.
After aging, the mash is pulled, checked for quality and, if OK, it is blended with white wine vinegar (they don't say how much) and aged some weeks more ('nother secret!). Finally, the product is pulled, strained and the liquid bottled.
36 Tabasco peppers -- or other long hot red peppers
Add water to the peppers and garlic. Cook in a medium pan until tender, then press through fine sieve. Add all other ingredients and simmer until blended. Pour into hot ball jars; seal at once. The sauce may be thinned - as used - with either vinegar or salad oil.
From : The Ball Blue Book Vol. X, 1947
Homemade Tabasco Style Sauce
Because the chiles are not aged in oak barrels for three years, this will be only a rough approximation of the famous McIlhenny product. You will have to grow your own tabascos or substitute dried ones that have been rehydrated. Other hot, fresh red chile peppers can be substituted for the tabascos.
1 pound fresh red tabasco peppers, chopped
Combine the chiles and the vinegar in a saucepan and heat. Stir in the salt and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool, and place in a blender. Puree until smooth and place in a glass jar. Allow to steep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Remove, strain the sauce, and adjust the consistency by adding more vinegar if necessary.
By Dave DeWitt and Chuck Evans
Homemade Tabasco Sauce
12 large Tabasco chile peppers; stemmed
Boil the chile peppers and garlic in vinegar in a small, non-metal saucepan until tender. Puree in a blender with the salt and sugar. Run through a metal sieve if necessary.
Dilute this paste with more vinegar until it is the consistency of rich cream. Pour into a non-metal saucepan, bring to a boil, then pour into a hot, sterilized bottle to within ½ inch of the rim.
Run a sterilized knife around the inside of the bottle to release air bubbles. Wipe the rim clean and seal with a scalded top. Store in the refrigerator once opened.
From: Red Hot Peppers by Jean Andrews
Fermented Pepper Sauces (Tabasco)
Note: This recipe requires pulling the liquid from the peppers, so they must be fresh, fleshy and of the right state of ripeness. At Avery Island they still use the original "critique baton rouge", a red stick tinted to the exact color of the peppers to be harvested. Peppers not matching the "critique" are rejected.
Please remember - old or over-dried peppers are the key to failure. This is true for all hot sauce recipes that use fresh versus powdered chile peppers.
Tabasco chile peppers
Prepare mash. Grind peppers (any amount), seeds and all, in a medium to fine grind. Add ½ cup kosher salt per gallon of ground peppers. This ratio of mash to salt of 32:1 seems to be the best but can vary depending on the quality of your peppers. Put mash & salt mixture into a glass or crockery jar. Press the mash down and cover with saucer or other lid . Liquid will form.
Age (ferment). Allow to age at least 1 month. Longer is better … McIlhenny ages their Tabasco peppers for 3 years!
Allow fermenting until the mash stabilizes (stops fermenting). After aging is finished, place mash in a new clean and sterilized jar. Add sterilized white wine vinegar to taste and age for about another week to blend the flavors together.
"Pulling" the peppers. Run the mash through a chinoise, fine strainer, or, last resort, throw it all into a bowl lined with cheesecloth, fold the cheesecloth up into a ball and twist & squeeze until the juice is extracted. Salt to taste. Bottle the juice and keep in the refrigerator.
Quick & Easy Fermented Tabasco Sauce
1/2 gallon fresh, ripe tabasco chile peppers
Mash peppers and put in wide-mouthed, non-metalic container. Top with salt and cover loosely so fermenting gasses can escape.
Put in cool dark place for 6 months. Stir and strain through fine mesh strainer, forcing pulp but not skin and seeds, through. Return seeds and skins to container with water equal to half their volume.
Stir and strain again. Put strained liquid with originally strained liquid into clean container and again cover loosely to allow fermentation to complete. In about two weeks, it is ready.
Original Tabasco ® cook books and cook's tools
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