OUTDOOR NOTEBOOK: Putting those dehydrated hot peppers to a good use

One thing I wasn’t without this year was an abundance of hot peppers. Whether I picked them up from my parents’ garden, a garden in Smithsburg, Md., or meticulously picked through the bins at Kroger, I’ve been dehydrating and using those peppers since the weather was still nice and warm. 

My last batch consisted of a mixed jar of dehydrated serranos, a green bell and jalapenos, as well as a batch of dehydrated Thai peppers my parents gave me. Knowing I plan on making some homemade barbecue sauce for an upcoming taco recipe, I knew I wanted to turn these peppers into two different hot sauces – one sweet and spicy and one downright hot. 

Making hot sauce is pretty simple if you choose not to ferment the peppers prior. I didn’t want to because I know I’ll be using these sauces in the next two weeks, so I did a quick cook in two different kinds of vinegar, water and other ingredients. 

So, if you have a bounty of peppers sitting in your pantry or are thinking about going to pick up some from the grocery store to make hot sauce, here’s your in. Note, I’m going to give you the sweet Thai pepper sauce recipe, but there are a few basic things I’ve learned about hot sauces that you can tweak to find the right combination.

First, you typically want to have a pepper-to-vinegar ratio of 2-to-1. Keep in mind, too, that you want to have a pH level of around 3.4 to make sure bacteria doesn’t grow in your sauce. It won’t make it last forever, but a pH around 3.4 is the most stable, and anything above 4 is pushing the threshold of the botulinum toxin forming. One key to maintaining a good pH level is to have your sauce be 20% vinegar, according to

If you’re bottling or putting in mason jars, sanitize the glass by adding it to boiling water for 10 minutes.


  1. If you’re working with dehydrated peppers, you’ll need to rehydrate them in hot water for 15-30 minutes. If you’re using fresh peppers, wash these and set them aside on a paper towel.
  2. While peppers are rehydrating, peel your garlic. Once peppers are ready, add these to a bowl with the garlic cloves. 
  3. Mix together cold water, brown sugar, rice vinegar, white vinegar, honey and soy sauce. Whisk until combined. 
  4. Add garlic and peppers to mixture. Let sit 5-10 minutes. 
  5. Add mixture to small pot, bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. While still hot, add to blender and blend until smooth. Make sure you’re keeping a vent open for the steam to escape.
  7. Once finished, quickly add to sanitized containers, seal and let cool. If you didn’t sanitize the lids with the glassware, flip upside down so hot mixture can sanitize it. 
  8. Add to your favorite meals and enjoy!


2 cups thai peppers

3/4 cup rice vinegar

3/4 cup distilled white vinegar

6 cloves garlic 

3/4 cup cold water

4 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp honey

2 tsp soy sauce