CELEBRATE 2022 – Sweet, spicy, mild or tangy. For the hot-sauce aficionado on your list, there’s an ever-expanding selection of flavor combinations and brands to choose from.
Here, we highlight some of the most popular locally made hot sauces to give (and maybe to get for yourself) this holiday season.
When chef Ric Orlando, formerly of New World Home Cooking in Saugerties and New World Bistro Bar in Albany, became too busy running the restaurants, he let his hot sauce line fall to the wayside.
Now, more than 20 years after its launch, Purple Haze Psychedelic Hot Sauce is back, along with several others.
“A magazine editor would always come into [New World Home Cooking] to get a mango shrimp dish that you could order hot or mild, and he always wanted it really hot,” Orlando said. “One day he came into the kitchen and started air guitaring ‘Purple Haze’ by Jimi Hendrix, and my cook said, ‘We need to make the sauce purple.’ I tried blueberries, blackberries and beets, but it never tasted how I wanted it to. Then one day I was making braised red cabbage and it made a purple liquid, so I realized red cabbage would be perfect.”
And that’s how Purple Haze Psychedelic Hot Sauce was born. The sauce, according to Orlando, has a slightly sour flavor from the red cabbage and sweet notes from pineapple, brown sugar and ginger.
“It’s great on rice and beans, pizza and eggs,” he said. “It works really well with fatty, cheesy things.”
The next hot sauce Orlando launched was the Dirty Blonde Sweet and Stick, which came about from a hot, sticky glaze he made at his restaurants by reducing citrus fruits and combining them with honey and habanero peppers.
“People don’t just use it as a hot sauce, they dunk things in it and brush it on food,” he said. “It first hits sweet and then finishes hot because of the black pepper and habanero.”
Orlando’s third hot sauce, Trini Daddy Caribbean Hot Mustard Sauce, is an homage to when he first learned about tropical hot food.
“When I was younger I played in bands in Boston and there are a lot of West Indian restaurants there,” he said. “They always had a yellow mustard-based sauce on the table, and I would buy it whenever I could find it. Since I loved it so much I decided to develop my own with habanero, turmeric and mustard.”
The final hot sauce in Orlando’s collection is Purple Haze Double Dose Carolina Reaper, made for those who wanted to kick up the heat level, which is accomplished by adding Carolina Reaper peppers.
“Since I closed both restaurants I have so many people saying, ‘I miss your food,’ but now they can recreate the flavors by using my sauces,” Orlando said, adding that he also has a line of seasonings and rubs. “I’m proud that I’ve enabled people to do that.”
To purchase Ric Orlando’s hot sauces, visit shop.ricorlando.com.
Saratoga Springs resident Brittani Thompson made her dream come true three years ago when she launched her company, Baucy Be’s, after taking a bottling class through Cornell Cooperative Extension.
“I’ve always wanted to bottle a sauce, and while taking that class I learned that honey is a high-acid product, so it allows things to be shelf-stable for longer,” Thompson said. “I found someone who has a honey farm too, so we’re able to locally source the honey we use.”
Thompson, a University at Albany graduate, developed Baucy Be’s Honey Hot Sauce in 2019 and began making it at her husband’s family’s business, the Historic Hotel Broadalbin on West Main Street in Broadalbin.
“I describe it as a foodie sauce because it’s not overly spicy — it’s both sweet and spicy, so it’s a sauce that anyone would like,” she said. “If it is too spicy for someone, they can mix it with mayo or sour cream to cut the spiciness.”
According to Thompson, Baucy Be’s Honey Hot Sauce is great on anything from Bloody Marys to pizza.
“It’s great on chicken wings, as a dipping sauce for chicken and on egg sandwiches,” she said. “I always love hearing from my customers how they use it.”
Baucy Be’s also offers Spicy Honey and two hot dry rubs.
“Food is always something that brings family and friends together,” Thompson said. “To bring people together to enjoy something locally made with local ingredients is great.”
Baucy Be’s Honey Hot Sauce and other products are sold at the Lake George and Lake Placid Beef Jerky Outlets and online at mamabes.shop. Local residents can use the coupon code “pickup” at checkout for pickup at the Historic Hotel Broadalbin.
After making a hot sauce for a citywide barbecue in 2019, Sticker Mule, an Amsterdam-based print shop, decided to take its sauce to the masses.
“As we grew we struggled to hire, and thought about how we could bring more attention to the company, so we decided to cook 10,000 hamburgers for people throughout the city,” said Sticker Mule cofounder Anthony Constantino. “A good burger needs a good sauce, and we put a lot of effort into the sauce.”
Constantino spent months working with chefs to develop Mule Sauce, made with a blend of red bell pepper, habanero, yellow Scotch bonnet and ghost peppers.
“It’s spicy but not too spicy, with a sweet aftertaste,” the lifelong Amsterdam resident said. “It was my goal to make an everyday hot sauce, and it truly is the best everyday hot sauce.”
Mule Sauce came in first place in the mild hot sauce category out of more than 450 entrants at the Fiery Food Competition in Dallas, Texas, in October. It also placed second in the sweet and spicy category.
Popular uses for Mule Sauce include sandwiches, eggs and pizza. Though Constantino said he’s in talks with local supermarkets to carry Mule Sauce, it can be found on Amazon and at Walmart, as well as online at mulesauce.com.
Fat Crow Gourmet
Upon selling a Binghamton brewery in 2019, Michele Bleichert moved back home to the Capital Region and decided to launch a line of hot sauces and other gourmet products with her sister, Luanne.
“A few of the mustards and sauces on the menu at the brewery were so popular that we decided to start bottling them,” she said. “At first they were just for sale at the brewery, but we wanted to see how we could do with wholesale.”
Maple chipotle and honey siracha were the first two hot sauces from Fat Crow Gourmet, which Bleichert launched in 2019 out of a shared kitchen in Salem.
“Maple chipotle is our mildest hot sauce and we use New York maple syrup in it,” she said. “It’s great as a barbecue sauce and dipping sauce. The honey siracha is my favorite sauce because you get the sweetness of the honey, which we source from New York, up front, and then seconds later the Siracha comes in.”
Bleichert later introduced the chili lime and Three Pepper hot sauces.
“The chili lime is medium heat and it uses green Hatch chilis and wasabi to kick it up a notch,” she said. “Our Three Pepper hot sauce is made from ghost, habanero and cayenne peppers and is the hottest one we make. Our hot sauces have really interesting flavor profiles and are well balanced.”
Though Bleichert initially focused on local markets and events, the pandemic caused her and her sister to reevaluate the business plan for the Fat Crow Gourmet.
“We were dead in the water during the pandemic and didn’t know what to do, but thankfully our wholesale customers stayed with us once things opened again,” she said. “Now we’re doing a lot of wholesale and the busier we became, the more we knew we needed to take a leap and get a place of our own.”
Fat Crow opened its first retail location in December 2021 on Congress Street in Troy. “We wanted a spot with a kitchen and room for retail for our products and other small businesses we wanted to carry,” Bleichert said. “Though it took a long time to find something that was the right fit for us, we’re so happy to be in Troy. We love the area.”
Customers can occasionally find Bleichert in the kitchen making Fat Crow Gourmet’s line of hot sauces, barbecue sauces and rubs, jams and scone mixes.
“Since we produce our products here people can come in and see me cooking,” she said. “It’s a unique opportunity to be able to see the process and talk directly to the person who makes the products.”
Fat Crow’s holiday hours at 362 Congress St. in Troy are Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Products can also be purchased online at fatcrowgourmet.com.
Forts Ferry Farm
The team at Forts Ferry Farm in Latham decided to unveil a line of hot sauces after experimenting with ways to use its excess hot peppers.
“We specialize in heirloom produce, and after growing hot peppers we found that people weren’t too interested in hot peppers around here,” said Forts Ferry Farm chief agriculture officer and co-owner John Barker. “They grew so well for us and we had so much left over, so we tried to figure out ways to preserve them. After toying around with recipes over the past few years, we came up with different hot sauces.”
Forts Ferry Farm offers four hot sauces: Cayenne Hot Sauce, made with cayenne peppers; Green Monster, made with poblano and Mustard Mama peppers; Orange Glow, made with orange glow jalapenos, habanada and pippin peppers; and Lemon Drop, made with Lemon Drop peppers.
“We grow a unique variety of peppers with a majority of the ones we produce being single-origin,” said Forts Ferry Farm food lead Matt D’Ambrosio. “Most hot sauces on the market are sourced from other parts of the world, but this is grown in our backyard.”
Though Forts Ferry Farm is closed for the season, you can find their hot sauces and produce at the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. inside the Troy Atrium.
You can also find their products online at fortsferryfarm.com.