Mash It Up!

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Dear Dave:

Howdy, I’m looking to make my own pepper mash and I’ve searched and searched but can’t find any answers. I have the The Hot Sauce Bible but failed to find specific instructions on how to make a pepper mash. I was wondering if you could answer some questions? Thanks. So I chop the peppers add salt and boil to sanitize. How do I check for pH; isn’t the mash too thick for a PH meter? Or should I blend a little to puree and then check. You said in your article that the pH has to be lower than 4 pH, if it’s higher what do I do to lower it? Does air need to get into the mash while it’s fermenting? Or can I add an airlock like in Home Brewing to keep bad things getting in and only let the CO2 out? After fermentation how do I remove the skin? Will the mash be broken down and the skin not, then should I just strain the entire mash to remove the skin solids? Thanks for the help.


Hello Carter:

I am not an expert on mash making, but I will attempt to answer your questions. The pepper pods are generally processed in a hammer mill and beaten to a pulp. Use a blender or food processor. Yes, drop them in boiling water for a few seconds first. Check for pH by using pH strips, available at aquarium supply places. To lower the pH, add vinegar. Vinegar is commonly added to mash. Most mash is fermented in large tanks or plastic 55-gallon drums or totes. They are vented, but I’m not sure exactly how. McIlhenny Co. allows air during the fermenting process, and they use old whiskey kegs. After fermentation, the mash is strained and then vinegar, flavorings, and sometimes spices are added. Often stablizers such as xanthan gum are added to thicken and prevent separation, and sometimes preservatives are added to increase shelf life. Hope this helps.


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