Take the heat: Seven Days employees taste five local hot sauces | Food and drink characteristics | Seven days


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Hot peppers may not have been the first crop associated with Vermont’s northern climate, but many varieties grow well here, and at least half a dozen companies have sprung up to produce a range of hot sauces using local ingredients. On a vendor information page, Burlington’s City Market, Onion River Co-op lists hot sauce as a “saturated category” of Vermont produce – as if to say, “Please don’t try any more. sell them to us “.

With all of these local hot sauces available, how do you pick the right one for your nacho, stir-fry, or scrambled egg needs? The writers of Seven days culinary and cultural teams came together to sample five hot sauces made in Vermont, armed with a bowl of crisps and a jar of sour cream to cleanse the palate.

The following is a far from exhaustive list of hot sauces. By the time we reached the last one, we struggled to say anything insightful, as our mouths were on fire.

MARGARET GRAYSON (Freelance Writer): The first thing I would like to know from all of you is your relationship with hot sauce.

MELISSA PASANEN (culinary writer): I like the hot sauce. I don’t like super, super spicy things. I really want other things to happen. I love the heat, but I love that another flavor situation occurs.

JORDAN ADAMS (editor-in-chief): Frank’s [RedHot] and Choula [Hot Sauce] – this is where I go for the hot sauce, because I’m kind of a weakling. I have had a few major issues with spices in the past. Having said that, I find the hot sauce very interesting.

JORDAN BARRY (food writer): Intellectually, I understand hot sauce very deeply. In practice, I’m a wimp too, and I only eat them on breakfast sandwiches.

MG: I put hot sauce on everything. There was a time when I was afraid I had ruined my sense of taste, because I ate spaghetti and was like, “Oh, that’s boring; he needs hot sauce. I sometimes have spicy food hiccups, so everyone brace themselves for that.


Benito’s Hot Sauce Original Naranja Carrot Habanero

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JB: The texture is very carrot.

MG: It’s definitely the carrot forward. I didn’t expect to taste the carrot.

deputy : It’s like baby food is reinvented in the form of hot sauce.

JB: But good baby food.

deputy : Yeah, yeah, sure. It goes without saying – the stuff that you do on your own. You grow the carrot, you peel it, crush it by hand in a mortar and pestle.

JA: I love that the heat spreads slowly and you start with that almost lemony flavor.

deputy : I like it more than I thought. What do you think it would be best on?

JB: Right on my breakfast sandwich. Sausage, egg, arugula on English muffin.

JA: Do you know what would be really good? One more ingredient: maple syrup.

MG: Well I think that means we have to move on to the maple sriracha.


Sugar Bob’s Vermont Maple Sriracha Hot Sauce

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MG: I’m biased because I almost always have this in my fridge. I have the impression that it is the dessert of hot sauces.

JA: The first taste is very sweet.

deputy : A fruity sweetness, not just a sweet sweetness. I think this is fooling you. On the front you get the sweet and for me the fruity and then you get the heat. While that of the carrot, for me, was more equal.

JA: I could really see him putting this on sautéed veggies – or a grilled chicken or a fried chicken sandwich.

MG: I make a lot of generic stir-fry sauces and love when they have some kind of sweet element in them. It would be a nice addition.

deputy : Maybe I’m influenced because I’ve known this brand and it’s been around for a while, but it feels like a really well-crafted hot sauce to me, like they’ve given it a lot of thought.


Butterfly Bakery of Vermont Heady Topper Craft Beer Hot Sauce

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MG: It’s interesting, because it’s just jalapeños, white vinegar, and Heady Topper. No garlic, no nothing. Beer and peppers are all the flavor.

JA: It tastes like nothing to me. Hope it’s not because I’ve already eaten too much hot sauce and my taste buds have been destroyed.

deputy : No, I think you’re a little right. I like it because it’s really tangy, and I love the tangy. But I’m not sure I can taste the Heady, which kinda surprises me.

JB: When the heat hits for the first time, it feels like the bite you get after a sip of a really hoppy and booze double IPA. It’s more of a mouth feel for me than a flavor.

MG: This one is so different from the first two we ate. It is much more bitter.

deputy : Well, the bitter would be the hops. And I really get the vinegar. It’s quite spicy once it builds up.

MG: So can we think of any endings [for which] we would like a more bitter hot sauce?

JA: Weird fruit salad?

JB: Oh! Or just on the watermelon. There’s this watermelon mustard trend right now when you’re supposed to be squeezing yellow mustard on your watermelon. I would prefer to make this sauce.

deputy : I would like him on a lot of things. I would like it on a burger. I feel like Sam-I-am. I would like it in the rain; I would like it in Spain.

JB: I think it would be very useful, especially for making something like a stir-fry sauce. If you accidentally get too sweet with something, it would be really effective in balancing it. So I would probably use it more as a cooking ingredient than on its own.


Vermont Pepper Works Chipotle and Chocolate Sauce

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MG: I love chipotles and put them in a lot of things and use them a lot in my cooking so I really like that but I don’t think it even exists in the same category as the others.

JB: I think it’s a marinade.

deputy : Or a spread. Chocolate and chipotle are a good idea. I mean, it’s pretty classic, right?

JA: The first thing I wrote was “smoky smoky smoky”.

deputy : I could see it spread on a sandwich or stir it into the chili. I already put chipotles and I sometimes put cocoa in my chili, so that’s basically it. As a hot sauce on its own, I feel like it needs some salt. But if you eat it with crisps, it doesn’t really matter.

JA: I almost feel like this will be a good basis for some sort of pizza game. It doesn’t seem like something I want to put on it.

MG: To the right. It is not an accessory. You need to plan your meal accordingly.

JB: I want this to be the eighth layer of a seven layer dip.

deputy : I was totally thinking about that! Or put it in a quesadilla with beans and cheese.

MG: I think my main criticism is, I think they should pack it in a mason jar [instead of a bottle], so you can enter it with a knife.

JA: Or just a huge chip.

MG: It’s definitely the most edible with a chip, however. You can eat it in bulk.

JB: Well we’ve all come back for more.


Angry Goat Pepper Co.

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deputy : Jordan took a bite of the latter and his eyes sort of moved. And so we immediately handed him sour cream. And then maybe he can speak in a few minutes.

MG: I could have hiccups from this.

JA: I just tried to talk and it didn’t work.

JB: It makes my nose run before I eat it, just from the smell.

JA: At first, the warmth and the sweetness argued. And then the heat just hit the fruity.

deputy : This is exactly what I just felt in my mouth.

JA: And the heat was like, “I’m in charge. You submit to me.” How are you there

JB: [squeakily] Not great. But I like the flavor.

JA: Oh! I breathed too fast and something happened. Steam enters my lungs.

JB: It is also a difference. There is so much heat going into the vapor and into the air.

MG: So it must be the scorpion pepper powder. I literally cry. It was really a crescendo.

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