I am a big fan of hot sauces. I believe keeping one or two bottles on hand should be mandatory in every kitchen. With that it is important to know how hot sauce holds up overtime. How storing and also cooking hot sauce can change the spiciness and quality.
Does Hot Sauce Get Hotter In The Fridge?
Hot sauces do not get hotter when stored in the fridge. Storing hot sauce in a refrigerator only helps to preserve any perishable ingredients. The scoville scale (how the heat is measured) of any hot sauce will not noticeably change when stored in a refrigerator.
This is the general rule for most hot sauces. Homemade hot sauces could become slightly hotter. Depending on the type of ingredients and how well it is blended.
Here is a quick guide to understanding hot sauce further.
Does Hot Sauce Gain Heat In The Fridge?
Most hot sauces are made with two main ingredients. Both are great at preserving the sauce since bacteria tends to avoid them.
The two main ingredients are chili peppers and vinegar. Doesn’t have to be vinegar as the liquid. Citrus juices (lemon, lime, orange, pineapple, grapefruit) can be used or plain water.
Chili pepper is a general term for many types of peppers. Common ones used are cayenne, habanero, ghost pepper, carolina reaper.
A specific type of chili pepper is used to give the sauce not only a unique flavor. The level of spiciness (scoville scale) is determined by the chili pepper used in the sauce.
Chili peppers can vary drastically in how hot each one is. Most have been cross bred and engineered overtime. Especially some of the hottest ones in the world. The world record for hottest pepper is constantly trying to be broken by new growers.
So does hot sauce get hotter? Most will not become hotter when stored in a refrigerator. If anything the fridge only helps to keep hot sauce fresh. Maintaining flavor and spice for longer periods of time.
A homemade hot sauce, used with fresh peppers. Could become slightly hotter as it ages. The cool temperature of a refrigerator will increase this process.
The only reason food may become spicier in the fridge. Is because the spice parts begin to be absorbed into the rest of the food. In other words the pepper either breaks down and releases its spicy heat, or it starts to spread.
This gives the feeling when eating that the food has become more spicy.
Can It Lose heat?
When storing hot sauce in the refrigerator. You shouldn’t worry about it becoming less spicy. The most that happens is the sauce starts to separate. Then the hotter parts could become more concentrated. The rest of the sauce will lose some of its heat.
It is best to always shake your bottle of hot sauce well before using. Also it might not hurt to let it warm to room temperature.
Sauces can become thicker as they cool down. Making the sauce not pour out as easily as it should.
Capsaicin (what makes peppers spicy) will only dissipate after long periods of cooking. Very high heat along with high fats and oils will dilute and can begin to breakdown the capsaicin compound.
Although a hot sauce at cooler temperature may seem less hot. This is our mouth and tongue playing tricks on us. Just like drinking cold water when eating spicy foods feels like it helps.
Actually water only spreads the spicy compounds instead of diluting them.
Best Hot Sauce Relief
The moment your mouth feels like it is on fire. Nerves in your mouth send signals to the brain that your body is has become very hot. Your bodies natural reaction will be go for water.
Water can provide some relief but its actually not removing the spicy compounds from your mouth.
Drinking milk is one of the best ways to relieve a burning mouth after eating spicy foods. Since the protein in milk helps to remove the capsaicin from your taste buds.
Is Hot Sauce Hotter When Heated or Cooked?
There seems to be an idea that hot sauce gets hotter (spicier) when it is heated or cooked. The truth is most hot sauces are not going to get any hotter when heated.
Unless more chili peppers are added to the hot sauce. The level of spice it has will not change with cooking.
Temperature does not affect spice for the most part. Since capsaicin is very tolerable to heat and has a high boiling point. Temperatures above 400 degrees is when it can start to break down and possibly evaporate with steam.
Have you ever noticed the strong fumes from spicy foods? It can cause minor irritation and coughing. This is because the capsaicin has become airborne.
The spicy parts of the food are actually being released slightly. Making the hot sauce slightly less spicy.
Read more about cooking with hot sauce in a related post. Can You Use Hot Sauce As A Marinade?
Can Hot Sauce Get Moldy?
Hot sauce although more resilient to bacteria. Is still a perishable food item. Most hot sauces do keep for a long time.
They need to be properly cared for to help lengthen the time. Care is easy though, just store the bottle in a cool environment. Preferably out of direct sunlight.
Make sure the lid is kept clean. I know it happens to a lot of my sauces over time. The sauce starts to crust near the lid.
Unfortunately this is a bad habit to let happen. The dried sauce can be a easy spot for bacteria to grow. So just wipe off the top of the bottle if any runs down the sides.
As mentioned earlier the reason hot sauce lasts for so long. Is because the ingredients actually work to preserve the sauce. Vinegar is used to create a longer shelf life of the hot sauce.
Since manufacturers still are required to follow FDA guidelines. Vinegar is a easy way to add a natural preservative. It also plays a part in the flavor of the sauce. Giving it a tangy flavor that complements the foods it is used with.
Homemade sauces along with more unique blends are going to be less shelf stable. This is because of the extra ingredients used in the sauce. Making the sauce more susceptible to molding.
How To Tell Hot Sauce Has Spoiled?
Hot sauce that has gone past its expiration may still look fine. Most of the time its still good to eat. If you don’t notice any visual differences in the sauce.
Then you should take the next step and smelling the sauce. If you still don’t notice anything off. I would say its safe to eat.
Here is the last test to determine if the sauce has spoiled. The taste shouldn’t be any different. Obviously if the taste is sour or bad then something is not right.
Special sauces may not have a expiration date on them. If you collect them then it becomes harder to know how long you might have kept them.
One easy to notice sign in the sauce, is black spots that appear throughout. These can be passed off as just black pepper, or dark seeds.
More than likely this is early mold spots starting to form. At this point the sauce has spoiled. Given enough time and the whole sauce will change in color.
Hot sauces don’t go bad very quickly, especially mass produced brands. They should last when unopened for a couple years. Homemade or more rare sauces need to be checked if you are uncertain.
Look for any noticeablly differences in appeareances, smell and possibly taste. If you get that far, also the heat may be reduced significantly.
Mold and bacteria break down spices better than heat or time. If your hot sauce isn’t very hot suddenly. Then it probably is past its time.