Tabasco Sauce: The Perfect Pickled Pepper Potion
Eating is not the same since Tabasco® sauce came into the dining table. Tabasco pepper sauce has indeed made eating exciting and fun because of the spicy hot taste it adds to every dish, sauce, marinade, or glaze we ate.
Tabasco is now more popularly known as a brand name of a hot red pepper sauce which is a famous table condiment. The hot, spicy flavor of the Tabasco sauce is served in finest restaurants all over the world. Tabasco sauce is a product of the McIlhenny Company of Avery Island, Louisiana, USA. They have been making this exquisite sauce made mainly from tabasco peppers since 1868.
The Tabasco pepper is a variety of the chile pepper species Capsicum frutescens. Tabasco derived its name from the Mexican state where the pepper originated. The word tabasco means "damp earth." In the 1840's, the tabasco pepper was first cultivated in Tabasco, Mexico but in 1848, it was transferred to Louisiana, USA where after the Civil War the famous McIlhenny family began growing Tabasco peppers on Avery Island. Today, tabasco peppers are widely grown in Central America and Columbia, then shipped to Louisiana for manufacture.
Like all chiles, the tabasco plant has a typical bushy growth, which commercial cultivation makes stronger by trimming the plants. The tapered fruits, around 4 cm long, are initially pale yellowish-green and turn yellow and orange before ripening to bright red. The pepper which is very difficult to pick , have a thin flesh with a sharp, biting heat.
Tabasco pepper is not especially hot compared to other varieties. Tabascos rate from 30,000 to 50,000 on the Scoville scale of heat levels. According to available information on Scoville scale, the world record holder for hottest pepper sauce is Red Savina, which tops the scale at 577,000 Scoville heat units. Cayenne scores about 50,000. A Habañero can go as high as 350,000. But according to some Indian scientists, the Naga Jolokia pepper has a Scoville rating of 855,000. Meanwhile, the hottest commercially available hot sauce by far is The Source Hot Sauce wwhich measures a mind-boggling 7.1 million Scoville heat units from Original Juan Specialty Foods. To offer a real measure of heat, a police-grade pepper spray is actually 5,300,000 heat units.
The Making of Tabasco Sauce
The peppers were traditionally grown on Avery Island. While there is a small portion of the crop still grown on the island, nowadays, 98% of the peppers used for Tabasco sauce are actually grown in Honduras, Venezuela, Mexico, and Columbia, where the weather and the availability of more farmland allow a more predictable and larger year-round supply of peppers. This also helps to ensure the supply of peppers should something happen to the crop at a particular location.
Another reason why the production is transferred to Central America is because of cheaper labor—there is no automated way to pick the peppers, because they do not all ripen at the same time. Traditionally, the peppers are hand picked by workers. To tell their ripeness, they are checked with a little red stick, or 'le petit baton rouge' that each worker carries around. Those peppers not matching the color of the stick are not harvested
. The same day the peppers are picked, they are mashed, mixed with a small amount of Avery Island salt, placed in white oak wooden barrels, and allowed to ferment and then age for up to three years. When deemed ready by a member of the McIlhenny family, the approved, fully aged mash is then blended with all natural, high grain vinegar. Numerous stirrings and about four weeks later, the pepper skins and seeds are strained out. The finished sauce is then bottled.
Tabasco brand pepper sauce is sold in more than 160 countries and territories and is packaged in 22 languages and dialects. More than 700,000 bottles of Tabasco sauce are produced each day at the Tabasco factory on Avery Island, Louisiana.
Uses of Tabasco Sauce
Tabasco Sauce adds zest to numerous dishes as well as being integral to the famous bloody mary cocktail. In addition to its original Tabasco Sauce, the McIlhenny Company now produces several Tabasco-brand sauces including green pepper sauce, garlic pepper sauce and habanero pepper sauce. Foods that contain Tabasco sauce flavor include nuts, popcorn, olives, Slim Jim beef products, mustards, mayonnaises, and pickles. Tabasco sauce has a shelf life of five years when stored in a cool and dry place. In Korea, Japan, Austria, Israel, Germany, Norway, Finland and parts of Canada, Tabasco sauce is popular on pizza.
There are also some people who think Tabasco sauce is great on ice cream or chocolate cake! History of Tabasco Sauce
A banker named Edmund McIlhenny had married Avery’s daughter Mary in 1859 and settled on the island. At some point he met a man on the street who gave him some red peppers, claiming he had obtained them in Mexico. McIlhenny liked them, and planted some of the seeds to grow his own pepper plants. He decided to experiment with them and see if he could come up with a hot sauce recipe he liked. McIlhenny eventually came upon a simple formula: pick the peppers at their very peak of redness, then crush them immediately and add Avery Island salt. The resulting mash was left to ferment, and after sufficient time had passed, it was blended with vinegar, strained, and bottled. McIlhenny originally used cologne bottles because they were the right size and had sprinkler tops that would allow the sauce to be shaken out one drop at a time. He then named it Tabasco Sauce to honor the place where the pepper came from. McIlhenny produced just 350 bottles of his sauce in 1868; today, the company he founded produces half a million bottles each day
For many decades, Tabasco was the only pepper sauce in widespread commercial production in the U.S.; today, there are more than 1,000 brands. However, none of these competitors diminished Tabasco's popularity even a tiny bit.
Tabasco is a registered trademark of McIlhenny Company of Avery Island, Louisiana, USA.