How to Grow Tabasco Sauce Step 1

This is the first of a two-part blog post on how to plant, grow and bottle your own Tabasco sauce.

Well-known food writer Eugenia Bone once wrote there isn’t a condiment sitting in the refrigerator that can’t be homemade.

That idea stuck with me last season as I was deciding what to plant in my garden. I thought about all the assorted bottles of sauces and small jars of accompaniments taking up space on the shelf in the fridge and landed on my favorite: Tabasco sauce.

Because that large bottle is my go-to favorite for spicing up soups, adding a zing to curry and sloshing on dirty rice, I decided to plant, grow, and bottle my own.

It was about this time last year when I set my sights on homegrown, homemade Tabasco sauce and I kept that in mind as I shopped for seeds in the piles of gardening catalogs that stack up so nicely right after the first of the year. I found authentic Tabasco seeds in the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog.

If you’re interested in bottling your own Tabasco sauce, now’s the time to place your order for seeds.

Pepper seeds take a bit longer to sprout than some other vegetables so plan on starting them about 8-10 weeks ahead of planting time. I started what I thought were plenty of seeds, but only a few plants sprouted. (A good reminder to always plant more than you think you’ll need.)

Last spring was an especially chilly one around here so I waited until after the first of June to transplant one Tabasco plant into my container garden. I could have waited even longer. Peppers are tropical plants and they prefer a very warm climate, so that wee bit of chill in early June set the Tabasco back several weeks.

But once it took off, it did extremely well in a large container placed in the sunniest corner of the patio. I kept it watered and fertilized throughout the season.

Tabasco peppers are cute because they’re small and grow standing straight up on the plant. I picked one green one from the plant in August and taste-tested it. These peppers were going to make a tasty hot sauce!

Of all the pepper plants I grew last summer, the Tabasco plant took much longer than the others to ripen. I waited as long as the weather allowed before bringing the container inside and placing it on a south-facing windowsill so the peppers could ripen to a brilliant red on their own.

It’s important to wait for these peppers to get the right shade of red before making sauce. In fact, professional growers use a special stick called a “baton rouge” to judge when the peppers are ripe-red and ready to pick.

Next: How to Make Tabasco Sauce


 

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Comments

Hi Jodi, just found your two part story on makine Tobasco Sauce from your own peppers. Not sure what part of Colorado you live in but can sympathize with the frustration of trying to get peppers to grow North of LaJunta, Co….. Used to live in Arvada, CO. and remember that Summer usually showed up about June 15th or so around Denver and it was tank tops and cut-offs til September. I’ve got a stoneware crock on the counter now with a mix of rehydrated Tobasco and New Mexico peppers fermenting away and bottling in a few weeks. However, awhile back I ordered some Tobasco seeds on line that I’ll start under lights in a few weeks. Will try making Tobasco sauce from fresh peppers in the Fall. I’ve got the same problem weather wise as you. Up here a few miles north of Spokane,WA. Summer doesn’t really get started until early July and some vegatable garden varities have less than a stellar chance at full maturity without tenting and exceptional weather. The Summer of 2012 turned out to be exceptional pepper weather and had a great crop with some Anaheim plants producing a whole second round over a mere two week period right at the end of the season. Anyway, so how did your Tobasco sauce turn out?
Best Regards

Hi George:

Thanks for the nice note–I appreciated hearing from you. I garden in Denver and it’s always a challenge. This year we’ll have water restrictions because of the drought, so I’m going to plant a little less than usual to keep the water bill down.

The Tabasco sauce was amazing–such a bright red color and fabulous fresh taste compared to store-bought. It just didn’t last long enough!

Good luck with the garden this year,
Jodi

Hi Jodi

The stick called a “baton rouge means red stick.
The way I know is I have a small bottom of Tabasco Pepper Sauce. That’s made in Avery Island in La. They made the color of the cap, when the peppers is that color.they are ready to pick. Just got to the step of putting the sauce in a jar. Place in the Fridge wait 3 weeks. I let you know how it came out. Thanks for the site

Thanks for the extra info! I’ll look forward to hearing the results.

–Jodi

Never could find Tobasco Sauce Step 2.

Hi Mary:

Here’s the link to the blog post for Tabasco Sauce, Step 2: < http://westerngardeners.com/how-to-grow-tabasco-sauce-step-2.html>

Best wishes,
Jodi

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