Tabasco sauce is an American brand of hot sauce, which a family-owned company began manufacturing at the end of the 19th century - located on Avery Island, Louisiana. Tabasco sauce is the most famous hot sauce in the world, with just a few drops of it changing the taste of a dish in the most splendid way but only the bravest dare enjoy it. Tabasco owes its international fame to the balanced taste between fiery hot and pleasantly sourly soft.
History of Tabasco Sauce
Tabasco sauce originates from tropical Louisiana, with the beginning of its history going back to the end of the Civil War in the US. For more than 140 years, Tabasco sauce has been made from 3 ingredients - well ripened red chili peppers, distilled natural vinegar and salt from Avery Island. A seemingly simply recipe wouldn't be able to produce the unbelievable sauce in any other climate conditions than those found in Louisiana. The long process of aging while being cared for meticulously are also key factors.
The father of Tabasco sauce, Edmund McIlhenny, originally from Maryland, moved to Avery Island in 1840. The enterprising McIlhenny realized that the fertile soil of the island allowed growing of the finest red chili peppers - a variety from Central America. And so, the first chili peppers were planted on the island in 1860. 8 years later, the company began the serious production of Tabasco sauce as a commercial product. Originally, McIlhenny wanted to name the sauce "Petite Anse" which was actually the old name for Avery Island.
However, his family members did not agree and so they finally chose the name "Tabasco". According to some theories, Tabasco is a Native American word, which in translation means "land with a hot and moist soil". This description is spot on regarding the climate of the island, which offers the perfect opportunity for growing the special chili pepper variety. After McIlhenny's death, his son Edward saved the recipe and began passing it on from generation to generation in the family.
Production of Tabasco Sauce
At the beginning of each new year, the seeds of the chili peppers are planted in greenhouses, then during April the seedlings are moved out to the open field so that the peppers can ripen in the sun. During August, the chili peppers are picked by hand, with only the highest quality and healthiest ones chosen. The same day they are picked, the peppers are mashed and mixed with small amounts of salt, which is also obtained on the island. Many believe that one of the secrets of Tabasco sauce lies in that very salt from Avery Island.
The resulting pepper paste is left to ferment for 3 years in special white oak kegs. Afterwards, a unique, very fine and distilled grain vinegar is added to the fermented paste. The solution must then be stirred periodically for about 1 month, after which it is strained and bottled.
Once the required aging time for the Tabasco sauce has elapsed, a McIlhenny family member personally checks the quality of the puree before the final production phase and determines whether or not it is ready. During the 1 month period, the solution needs to be stirred constantly and finally, the seeds and flakes are removed.
The prepared Tabasco sauce is bottled and then begins its long journey to over 120 countries around the world. The sauce labels are printed in over 19 languages. This is the production method of the famous sauce, extraordinarily highly concentrated and rich in flavor. Of course there are different types of Tabasco sauce, for even the most specific preference.
Classic red Tabasco sauce is measured at 2500-5000 Scoville units. Tabasco Habanero sauce is much hotter - 7000-8000 Scovilles, where some of the spiciest peppers in the world are mixed with a puree of mango, tamarind, papaya or banana, resulting in an exotic taste with an unbelievable character. Another type is a Tabasco sauce made from Jamaican chili peppers, which has a much more delicate taste and Tabasco sauce with garlic - light and extremely flavorful.
Storage of Tabasco Sauce
Classic Tabasco sauce from red chilies is a natural product containing no artificial colors. The red pigments of the peppers in the sauce are exceptionally sensitive to light, which means it needs to be stored far away from it. Direct exposure to sunlight can darken the sauce. Excessively high or low temperatures are also not appropriate. The shelf life Tabasco sauce is 5 years.
Cooking Tabasco Sauce
Hands down, Tabasco sauce is the most famous hot sauce which the culinary world has ever known. Its popularity is sky high, its practical applications are endless and depend only on the imagination and boldness of those daring enough to try it. Tabasco sauce is an indispensable part of official White House dinners. Many people use Tabasco sauce as a spice but it can easily be utilized as a key ingredient in the preparation of all sorts of dishes - stewed dishes, soups, meat sauces, Mexican beans.
The optimal proportion is 1 tsp for about 4 1/5 cups (1 L) of water or other liquid. The saturated taste of Tabasco sauce provides a nice spiciness to any dish it is added to. A pizza with several drops of Tabasco becomes unbelievable, while plain old scrambled eggs transform into an exquisite breakfast. Seafood and tomato sauces that have been seasoned with Tabasco reach a whole new plateau of culinary perfection.