Chapter Seven: The Kitchen
Comments 4

Hot Sauce Ratio


Recipes are inflexible and oppressive. “Do only this!” they command. Ratios provide a framework for variation and allow the cook to use what already resides on his or her kitchen shelves.


Hot sauce is a Very Important Condiment and is best when heat is balanced with acidity, sweetness, salt and depth. Fermenting the peppers first builds depth of flavor and softens them for blendability. Read Green Hot Sauce for some background on the method.


This ratio should be applied to ingredients measured by weight in grams. If you don’t have a digital gram scale,  it’s time to invest. Using the ratio, here’s an example hot sauce formula: 32 grams red jalapeños fermented and strained, 16 grams white balsamic vinegar, 4 grams honey, 1 gram kosher salt. The beauty of ratios is that they are scalable, and I recommend making a batch that starts with 480 grams of peppers (and thus 240g acid, 60g sweet, 15g salt.)

sauce ratio


sauce ratio

For illustration purposes, here’s the formula of the sauce pictured at the top:

  • 480 grams chilies, fermented 7 days and strained (240 grams yellow chilies and 240 grams fresno peppers)
  • 240 grams white balsamic vinegar
  • 60 grams quince paste
  • 15 grams smoked Maldon flake salt
  • Blend all ingredients until smooth

A couple words of caution. Feel free to adjust quantities to taste, and always taste as you go; you can put more in, but you can’t take it out. Also: distilled white vinegar and iodized salt are really gross, so don’t use them. Under certain circumstances, refined white sugar might be acceptable, but first consider anything else. (These comments not approved by the Distilled White Vinegar Council of America, the Iodized Salt Board, or the Sugar Refiners’ Lobby.)


  1. Love the proportion vs. recipe thing. This is how my mom and grandma always explained things. Recipes were vague suggestions meant to be modified based on whatever was at hand.


  2. Definitely. Cannot tell you how many times I have followed a recipe exactly, only to obtain inferior results. Trial and error provides experience, which makes a good cook.


  3. Like you I’ve worked at getting the perfect ratio to get a delicious consistent product – (for example my granola/energy bars – and I really appreciate this as I have some fermenting peppers screaming at me to do something meaningful with them. I particularly like your table as it provides the variety. I’m already thinking of how this can be adapted for other purposes.


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