Guide to Bottling Hot Sauce + 4 Ways to Fill Sauce Bottles
Crafting hot sauce at home lets you experiment with spice levels, flavor combinations, and fresh ingredients. Making hot sauce in the comfort of your own kitchen is always rewarding, whether you are a seasoned home cook or just starting your culinary journey. PexPeppers has been making sauce for decades and we've got the essential steps, techniques, and ingredients necessary to bottle up your homemade hot sauce.
How to Bottle Hot Sauce
Bottling hot sauce isn't hard, but it takes a little precision. With these tips, you'll be well on your way to bottling hot sauce at home.
Choose the Right Bottle
Hot sauce comes in all different shapes and sizes. We'd all recognize the shape Frank's glass bottles, or the signature caps of Tabasco and Cholula. What type of bottle should you use for your homemade sauce? Glass woozy bottles are the standard type of bottle most people use for their homemade sauce, but the type of bottle is up to your personal preference.
Can you put hot sauce into plastic bottles? We don't recommend putting hot sauce in plastic bottles at home. While it is a myth that hot sauce is too acidic for plastic, the bottling process at home involves using high heats that aren't safe with plastic containers. There isn't anything wrong with commercial hot sauces that come in plastic bottles, but they have facilities with the necessary equipment to safely bottle unique hot sauce recipes.
There is not only one bottle type for storing the sauce. If you are going to sell your hot sauce, you might consider the shape and size of bottles for hot sauce as it pertains to the brand you are building. PexPeppers has always used woozy bottles, and we've experimented with plastic and glass.
Other types of bottles shapes to stand out at the farmers' market or local shop include:
- Flask Bottles
- Boston Round Bottles
- Swing-top Bottles
- Squeeze Bottles
Sterilize Your Hot Sauce Bottles and Equipment
The first thing you'll need to know when making a hot sauce to bottle is how to sterilize your gear. You want your sauce to last and sterilizing your bottles will prevent any unwanted icky stuff from growing inside the bottle while it is being stored.
Do I need to boil my hot sauce bottles? You don't need to boil your hot sauce bottles, but you need to sterilize them, and boiling is an easy way to accomplish that. Whichever way you choose to sterilize your bottles, ensure the bottles and any tools are thoroughly cleaned beforehand. How do you sterilize hot sauce bottles? You can sterilize your hot sauce bottles in one of three ways:
- Boiling - Heat water to a rolling boil before placing the bottles and lids in. The whole bottle needs to be submerged for 15 minutes.
- In the oven - Place bottles in the oven at 175°F for 25 minutes on a baking sheet. The bottles cannot fall over during sterilization.
- Sanitizing solutions - There are tablets and solutions you can buy to mix with water. In most cases, the bottles just need to hang in the solution for a minute, but follow the directions on the product you buy.
You can see now why we don't recommend using plastic bottles when you create a sauce at home. Any kitchen equipment you are using to bottle with should also go through cleaning and sterilization to keep your batch of sauce fresh longer.
4 Ways to Fill Hot Sauce Bottles
After sterilizing, its on to your filling method. There are a handful of easy ways to fill your sterilized bottles with your sauce.
This is by far the most well-known method of filling hot sauce bottles. You just use a funnel to pour the sauce, placed into the neck of the hot sauce jar. Transfer your blend to a pitcher and bottle your sauce!
- Simple with no moving parts
- Works well for thick sauces.
- Great for small batches
- May get very messy
- Product cools down quickly
The sauce is cooked in the kettle and then hot filled directly via the attached spigot.
This method makes filling hot sauce and salsa jars extremely easy. All you need is a brew kettle and a matching spigot. Please note, your spigot should be made out of 304 stainless steel.
- Ease of use
- Virtually mess free
- Slower with thick sauces
- More parts to wash and assemble
- Not as accurate as a piston filler
Another way to fill your sauce bottles is to use a manual piston filler. These work by using two one-way valves to first pull sauce directly from the pot into the piston and then by ejecting it out of the nozzle and into the bottle.
This filler method is absolutely amazing for producing small bottles of sauce as you can accurately control the stroke length of the piston and thus the fill volume. This method would be for the advanced sauce maker that is making their hot sauce to sell or give out as gifts. A piece of machinery like this is a bit more expensive than a funnel.
- Some designs are very complex
- Labor intensive as internal rings heat up
- Can get expensive
If you are a growing hot sauce business, this is probably where you'll end up. A pneumatic piston
filler is extremely fast and accurate. Some of them even have heated sauce hoppers to keep your sauce at temperature if doing a huge run.
This is the Cadillac of hot sauce filling methods. Like a Cadillac, be prepared for sticker shock, some of these can hit $5,000 dollars, not including the air compressor that is needed to run one of these.
- Extremely fast, perfect for high-volume production
- Can be converted to automatic filling via sensors
- Very accurate, can get within 1% tolerance
- Very expensive
- Complex designs mean more points of failure and more parts to wash
- Requires additional equipment to operate
here is a filling solution for any size maker. You can start your first batch of hot sauce with the funnel method and expand to other methods if you decide to sell your products. If you don't have a funnel, you could use a turkey baster or even a large food safe syringe to bottle and store your pepper sauce!
Preserving Homemade Hot Sauce
Those who relish in the fiery allure of hot sauce have collections of sauces filling our cabinets and refrigerators. Bottles of shelf-stable sauce from professional sauce makers will last six months at room temperature. How long does homemade hot sauce last in the fridge? Homemade hot sauce will last about 90 days in the fridge if you've taken the proper precautions for making and bottling your hot sauce.
To maintain the freshness, flavor, and quality of homemade hot sauce, try taking these steps:
Refrigeration: Storing your homemade hot sauce in the refrigerator is one of the simplest and most effective preservation methods. The cool temperature helps slow down the growth of bacteria, preserving the sauce's freshness.
Proper pH levels: The pH of the hot sauce plays a vital role in preservation. The presence of citrus juices (we've used limes and lemons in our sauces!) or vinegar act as natural preservatives. What pH should hot sauce be for bottling? Hot sauce pH levels should be below 4.0 to inhibit the growth of harmful microorganisms. Use pH test strips or a pH meter to be sure you have a safe level for preserving your sauce and adjust if necessary.
Pasteurization: Pasteurization involves heating the hot sauce to kill bacteria and enzymes that can lead to spoilage. Fill heat-resistant bottles with the hot sauce, leaving some headspace, place them in a large pot of water, and heat to a temperature of at least 185°F (85°C). After 15 minutes, remove the bottles and let them cool. Pasteurized hot sauce can have an extended shelf life, especially if stored in a cool, dark place.
Freezing: Freezing can help for short-term preservation, but it is not our favorite method. If are trying to use up fresh peppers before they go bad, you can freeze the de-seeded pods to use in a sauce later.
When making your sauce, remember to label the date and any additional information to keep track of its freshness. Check the sauce for any signs of spoilage or off flavors before consuming it after it has been stored for a lengthy period of time.
Tips for Hot Sauce Ingredients and Sauce Recipes
Take our tips for a successful saucing process.
Ingredients: Use high-quality ingredients. Try wine vinegar, flavored salts, and smoked spices for a unique flavor. The quality and combination of ingredients play a significant role in the flavor and heat level of the hot sauce. We love using fresh fruit in our sauces.
Recipe development: Start with small batches! As you develop a well-balanced and flavorful recipe for your hot sauce you'll have some trial and error. Keep notes as you figure out the best ways to balance your flavors. Experiment with different hot pepper varieties for a hotter sauce, and explore their different flavor profiles. Cook the ingredients and blend the sauce, adjusting the cooking time and temperature to achieve the desired consistency without sacrificing flavor.
Never made a sauce? 👉 Check out this recipe for hot sauce made in the microwave!
Filling and sealing: When you are filling, leave some headspace at the top to allow for expansion. Use appropriate lids or closures when sealing bottles so they create an airtight seal.
Labeling and branding: If you plan to sell your hot sauce, design attractive and informative labels that include the product name, ingredients, heat level, manufacturer details, and any required regulatory information. Ensure that the labels adhere securely to the bottles.
Remember, it's crucial to follow local food safety regulations and guidelines when producing and bottling hot sauce, especially if you plan to sell it commercially. Consider consulting with food safety authorities or professionals to ensure compliance with relevant standards.
No Time to Make Hot Sauce at Home?
Do you want your hot sauce without taking the time to make and bottle it? We've got you covered. PexPeppers uses the freshest ingredients, with heat levels from mild to extremely hot. Our hot sauces are made in small batches, with big flavors. Try any of our habanero, jalapeno, or super hot chile pepper sauces today!