I was over at http://www.leeners.com/hotsauce.html and they had mentioned that the best sauces are made from pepper mash and I would like your opinion. Is making sauces from peppers inferior to the ones that are made from pepper mash. Do the looks and taste differ from each other?
I don’t think that either one is better than the other. It’s more than just the source of heat, it’s the supplementary ingredients and the saucemaker’s cooking skills that make for a great hot sauce. And the sauce maker using mash must watch out for excessive saltiness.
Dave’s Webmaster/designer Harald Zoschke adds:
While running Suncoast Peppers in St. Petersburg, Florida for four years, we developed a line of gourmet hot sauces and used fresh peppers only. We found all mash available to be too salty, as Dave pointed out, too. Plus, two of our sauces needed very special vinegars – one the best all-natural apple cider vinegar we could find, the other one a premium red wine vinegar. Typically you have no control which vinegar is used for industrial mash, and often it is just the cheapest. Of course we were jaded making our sauce in FL, with an almost year-round supply of fresh chiles, and therefore were able to view mash as just a second choice. We also had our peppers hand-selected – costly, but we knew we had just the finest pods in our sauces.
Some sauces use aged peppers, though, and that’s a different story – here you are interested in the natural fermentation process, and using mash is a required part of production. But again, vinegar flavor/quality and salt content are crucial for the sauce formula. If those work for you, there is no reason not to use mash.
Some manufacturers switched to making their own mash, which gives them control over vinegar, salt content and pepper quality. Depending on where you live, this could mean the best of both worlds for you, assuring a continuous supply of pepper product.