Thank you @Hot Sauce Guy
If you were going to suggest a basic recipe to a beginner, what would you suggest?
For a pasteurized sauce, maybe something like this:
- rice vinegar (4.3% dilution, I believe) - rice vinegar is a really nice option to start with because there's a little natural sweetness, but not as sweet as ACV, and not as acidic as ACV or White vinegars, which typically run 5%. So it will be less bitey on the palate.
- desired pepper of choice - if you have Mexican mercados or farmers markets nearby, you can usually get some exotic peppers like Manzano, Fresnos or even ghost, scorpion, scotch bonnets, etc. Otherwise you can get Habanero, Jalapeno, Serrano at most large grocery stores.
- I really like the layering that a blend of dried & fresh peppers can add to a pasteurized sauce, so suggest cayenne or chile Tepin (also available at Mexican markets)
- Onion adds liquid to the sauce that isn't water, and also when cooked lends some texture & savory notes
- Garlic is a must for me. The more the merrier.
- For sweetness, agave is a pretty neutral flavor option, and is less absorbent than sugar. Honey works well, but has more of a distinct flavor. Natural sweeteners include pineapple, mango, apple, carrot, banana, papaya, pear, date, etc.
- Chipotle is kind of a cheat code - whether its dried or canned in adobo sauce, it's such a bold, dominant flavor that it can take over a sauce, and often does.
- Spices like cumin, turmeric, saffron, sea salt, black pepper, coriander, smoked paprika, etc - all work well in moderation, to taste.
So I know that's not a recipe. But that's sort of deliberate - I don't know which of those fruits or spices or the intensity of them that you will want.
As I'd mentioned in my post above, your target is ~30% acid. That's for resulting pH. If you like sharper sauces, you can always up the acid to 35 or even 40% of the solution.
So let's say you're making roughly a quart-sized batch, which I recommend. if it's good you have enough to enjoy, and if it sucks you won't cry about dumping it down the drain. I've made a ton of drain-sauce. lol Anyway, you probably have a quart bottle of rice vinegar, so use about 35% of it.
Prep your ingredients - I like running them through a food processor for even cook time, but if you prefer to hand-dice veggies, that option is fine as well. It will all cook fine regardless.
When you sketch out your recipe in excel, enter a couple of divisional formulas to determine how much of the formula is acid. You'll have weighed the vinegar, so you already know that you have room for 65% of "other" - fresh peppers weigh more than dried, but dried have a 5:1 concentration of heat. I would suggest 35% fresh peppers, but since I don't know what peppers you want to work with (or what's available to you) that could make it devastatingly hot. If you're making a jalapeno sauce, 40% jalapenos will be fine. I would recommend not using more than say 3% sodium, or you risk creating a salt bomb. Better to under-salt than over-salt. And as mentioned, dried spices can go a long way. Some folks like big bold use of spices like cumin, while others enjoy a subtle hint.
Using an excel spreadsheet, enter the items in gram weight. Acids 35%, base 65%, dry spices, honey or agave should be weighed & entered, but aren't included in the formula of acid vs base.
Then cook at 190 degrees for 8 mins while agitating constantly, blend, bottle, and invert!
There are some actual basic recipes on thehotpepper.com if you want a literal recipe - that's not really how I create, so it's not really something I’m good at offering here. And I also think this hobby is a lot more fun when you find your own path to the flavor profiles that you enjoy.
If I were going super basic with an actual recipe, I'd suggest the following:
- 1/3 of a qt of rice vinegar diluted to 4.3%
- 40% jalapeno peppers
- 10% onion
- 10% garlic
- 3% sea salt
Weigh all in grams to determine actual qtys, using the weight of the vinegar as a benchmark for %s.
Pasteurize, blend, hot fill & invert.
It's a good starting point - and probably a very tasty simple sauce.