I recently spoke with Doug Link of Scoville Brothers Gourmet Hot Sauces. He shared a bit about his business of hot sauce making. If you’ve ever considered selling your own hot sauce, it is best to learn from those already doing it.
For how long have you been making hot sauce?
I’ve been growing Chili peppers and making sauces, salsas, rubs and dried ground pepper shakes for over 10 years.
What are your most popular products?
Rockin’ Red is a blend of 3 red chili peppers; cayenne, red jalapeno and red habenero. It’s our #1 seller. Next in popularity is Heavy Metal Heat; mostly Bhut Jolokia (aka ghost pepper) with a bit of Red Habenero. Singin’ Smoke fans are the most devoted, they can’t get enough of it. It is our answer to chipotle, a blend of smoked jalapeno and smoked habenero.
How did you get started making hot sauce?
I got started as a hobbyist/ gardener and initially began making hot sauce as a way to promote a musical act.
When did you go commercial?
Scoville Brothers LLC was incorporated in 2009.
How many bottles of hot sauce do you produce a year?
We are on pace to produce 500 cases this year, or about 6000 bottles.
Do you have a preferred chili pepper as an ingredient?
I love all chilis! Red Habenero tends to find its way into most of the sauces, but I like milder chilis as well. I am working with a prototype for a milder sauce using New Mexico red chile as the primary ingredient. I have been developing a variety of chili pepper that I will be using in my products very soon. I have done some cross-pollinating experiments that have produced a pepper that is fiery, sweet and thick-walled to make it resistant to cold Midwestern springs (often these conditions can cause chili peppers to mold). I am in my third year in development with this variety and if the plants produce consistent results this year we will be marketing the “Scoville Brothers” chili pepper!
Aside from chili peppers, what do you feel is the key ingredient(s) in making the perfect hot sauce?
Consistency. I try to source product that is consistent in heat, flavor and color. I will buy from different suppliers when I have to and blend from different batches to keep the end result consistent.
Is there a special process you follow in making your hot sauces?
Our hot sauces tend to be basic. They are premium quality pepper sauces. We blend dried ingredient (primarily pepper) and liquid (vinegar and water) heat to 180 degrees and bottle.
Do you follow a particular philosophy to making hot sauces?
Most definitely. “It’s all about the pepper”. Our sauces are premium pepper sauces without much other ingredient. They are for adding chili pepper flavor to what you cook and what you eat. I like to blend chilis with different flavor and “burn” characteristics to produce a better result that you would get with one chili by itself. There is much more pepper in our sauces than most competitors. There is less vinegar that in many other sauces. We use just enough vinegar to keep a consistent PH of 3.3.
Do you have any other favorite spicy foods?
I will eat anything made with chilis! I like wasabi and horseradish too!
Do you have any advice for would-be hot sauce makers making sauces at home?
Wear rubber gloves!
Do you have any basic/favorite hot sauce recipes to share?
One of the easiest things the home gardener can do is to grow a variety of chilis. Get a dehydrator and a good spice grinder. Dry them, powder them, experiment with them and have fun!
Imagine this sad reality: If you could have only one chili pepper the rest of your life, which would you choose?
That’s easy. The Scoville Brothers chili, of course!
If your life could be turned into a movie, who would you like to have play YOU on the big screen? What might the movie TITLE be? (NOTE: I’m a produced screenwriter, so this could really happen!)
I’ve been told I resemble Tim Robbins. I can relate to his character Andy Dufrense in “Shawshank” I think I’d be that guy under those circumstances, patiently stealthily and steadily working toward the goal. Title….Hmmm…How about “Rule Number One”?
Any other parting thoughts?
Believe in yourself and your dreams. Find excellence in all that is around you. Give credit when it is due. Enjoy!
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