Words & Photos Kirsten Nunez

6 Steps to Stellar Homemade Sriracha

Sep 23, 2016

When it comes to eating wholesome grub, it’s easy to overlook condiments. They might seem like an afterthought, but they matter. Being mindful about your food doesn’t stop at the main affair—what you slather on top is equally important. That’s where a homemade recipe comes in.

Making your own sriracha is a stellar way to earn major kitchen cred. The millennial generation is all about it. It's a staple in Vietnamese and Thai cuisine that speaks to Generation Y’s craving for global, adventurous flavors. Sriracha is more about the garlic than the vinegar (the latter is the highlight of thinner Louisiana-style sauces). And since hot sauce is the 8th fastest growing industry in the country, it’s safe to say that sriracha is here to stay.

Contrary to what most Americans think, sriracha is a type of sauce, not a brand (most people think of the iconic red rooster bottle from the brand Huy Fong). And while it is inexpensive and easy to find, making sriracha is an art in itself. It gives you the chance to trade preservatives and superfluous salt for wholesome, real ingredients.

Sriracha owes its emblematic flavor to lactic acid fermentation. This simple yet extraordinary process involves live cultures breaking down the sugars of the sauce. The result is a robust medley of flavors emphasizing notes of hot pepper and garlic. Depending on your desired heat scale, you can use any combination of red mild (jalapeño and serrano) and hot peppers (Thai). Substituting a portion with sweet red peppers can also yield a milder sauce.

01.

Gather the Ingredients

½ pound red peppers of your choice; 3 garlic cloves; ¼ cup apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar; ¾ teaspoons salt; 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional); 1/8 cup white or brown sugar (optional).

02.

Chop and Remove Seeds

Wash the peppers well, then cut off the stems and slice open. Scoop out the seeds and membrane as best as you can. Peel the garlic. Chop everything up into big, chunky pieces. It’s not a bad idea to wear protective gloves during this step.

03.

Blend

Add the peppers, garlic, vinegar, and salt to a food processor or high-powered blender. If you’re using a blender, chop the peppers and garlic a few extra times. Blend until the ingredients reach the consistency of a smoothie.

04.

Ferment

Transfer the sauce into a sterilized jar. Cover with a cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. Store in a dark, cool cupboard for at least 5 days (leave it up to 14 days for stronger umami). Within the first few days, the sauce will start to foam—this is a sign of fermentation. You can give it a taste on day 3 or 4; if you’re craving a stronger kick, let it ferment longer until the desired flavor is achieved.

05.

Blend and Drain

If desired, add oil and/or sugar. The oil promotes a smoother consistency while the sugar adds a touch of sweetness. Blend for a few seconds (with or without these two ingredients) and drain through a mesh sieve. Don’t force it through; just let it drip. The thicker sauce in the sieve is your sriracha.

06.

Bottle and Enjoy

Pour the sriracha into a glass bottle. When stored in the refrigerator, it will last up to 4 months. Bonus: the “vinegary” sauce that drained from your sriracha can also be bottled up and used like those thinner Louisiana-style tabasco sauces. Score.