Hot Pepper Dudes, LLC

Preparing your Recipe
July 6, 2011, 3:35 pm
Filed under: How to Start Your Own Hot Sauce Company | Tags: , ,

So you make this great product that everyone likes, but is your recipe something that a bottler (co-packer) can work with to re-create your unique product?  For me, the answer was no at first, and I had to work on it for a few weeks to get it in a condition that they could use to replicate my sauce.

These are the biggest things that I learned and now create every recipe the same way so that my bottler can easily follow it and I get consistent results.

  1. Every ingredient that is not a standard unit of measure needs to be weighed.  For instance, I use a lot of fresh veggies in my sauces.  Saying “1 medium onion” or “5 Ghost Peppers” does not give the bottler enough accurate information to work with.  The reason is that fresh vegetables are all different sizes…who is to say that one medium onion purchased at one location is exactly the same size as another?  So for these types of ingredients, I weigh everything both before it gets chopped up (raw form) and after it is chopped up and ready to go into the sauce.  Most bottlers can work with either ounces or grams, so either is fine.  I find grams to be a little easier for weighing very light things – like fresh herbs.
  2. Every other type of ingredient should just list the standard unit of measure, for instance “1 TSP Ground Mustard” or “2 Cups Vinegar”.
  3. Provide cooking instuctions.  Note that every bottler that is going to create a shelf stable sauce/condiment for you will always cook it at 180 degrees or higher since this is the temperature that kills all the bacteria in vegetables (much higher temperatures are needed for canning things that contain meat, so that is outside of my experience).  180 degress is generally what I consider a simmer when cooking at home, but it is short of boiling.  So take that into consideration when cooking your sauce.
  4. The instuctions should also contain step for what needs to be done after the product is cooked.  Is it bottled as-is, or do you run it through a blender?  All the steps you go through need to be noted so they can follow it correctly.
  5. Note how much product your recipe makes.  This can just be in total ounces.  So if your typical batch makes 12 bottles of hot sauce and each is 5 ounces, then your batch size is 60 ounces.  This gives them a gauge for how to scale the recipe up for larger production.
  6. Make your product a few times to make sure you can follow your own recipe and didn’t leave anything out.  If you can’t follow it, then it will be hard for the bottler to do so and you won’t be happy with the end result.

Another general consideration is to think about your ingredients and if they can be locally sourced.  Maybe you can substitute a more generally available (cheaper) ingredient that doesn’t change the flavor of your sauce and end up with a more economical product.  Just to give you an example, I use Ghost Pepper in all my products.  This is not grown locally and I have to purchase it from a grower in New Mexico.  In this case I wasn’t able to substitute anything else becuase that was what really gave them the unique flavor that I wanted in my products.  So, just be prepared that this will add to your overall costs of production – Ghost Pepper isn’t cheap, and if you have something rare in your product it won’t be cheap either.

Next we’ll talk about how to find a bottler/co-packer to produce your product.


8 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Thank you! Thank you! and Thank You for this post! i’m considering getting into the hot sauce business and the info you provided in invaluable. i hope you continue writing more posts as I am interested about the bottling process/

Comment by Linda

Hi, I would like to start my own hotsauce business but, it hard to find info. to put it all together. your website has great info. that i didn’t know. I need bottling/co-packer information. that’s pretty much where i am stuck at. When do you think you might post on bottle/co-packer? Thanks for your website.

Comment by Danny

I will try to get to that part soon, but in the mean time the best way to find a co-packer is to go to a local hot sauce show in your area. Visit the various vendors and ask them where they get their sauce bottled. A lot of times you will find they use the same person, who might even be a vendor at the same show, selling his own line of stuff. This is inevitably how I found the best local co-packer…for some reason they do not do a great job of advertising.

Comment by cbillet

Thank you!
I’ve been researching this and a LOT more and to reiterate, I can’t find a damn thing about bottlers! I will definitely look for a hot sauce show but till then I’m going to go to my local stores and look on the hot sauce bottles there for where they were bottled.

Comment by Evan DC

Just the info I’ve been needing!! Thank you so much for sharing!!

Comment by Melissa

appreciate this post… I make my own hot sauce as well here in Georgia.. never thought to measure my peppers because I always pick them out lol.. everything else I have converted over to total ounces. I’m going to make my sauce a couple of more times then contact a few copackers and go from there…
thank you for the info.

Comment by walter

I am trying to get into the hot peppers business. I was looking where to start. I read about the recipe set up and that is a great help and will need to revise it using the measurements.How can find a hot sauce show in my area. I am unemployed and know this will be a great opportunity to get it going. Please advise. Thanks.

Comment by Frankie

Frankie…I really just use the internet to find hot sauce shows in my area. They are getting more popular all around the country. Or even try going to a farmer’s market and seeing if they carry any local stuff then get in touch with them to see where they get their stuff bottled.

Comment by cbillet

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