Crystal Hot Sauce Ingredients: What Makes It Tick?

Baumer Foods has been making Crystal Hot Sauce since 1923 and over the years since it has been on the market, it has become a Louisiana icon. In fact, it is the most popular Louisiana hot sauce within Louisiana; you will find a bottle on many restaurant tables in New Orleans. The burning question here is what sets this sauce apart? Below we will look at what goes into Crystal Hot Sauce.

The ingredients list for Crystal Hot Sauce

The ingredients on the label are:

  • Aged Cayenne Peppers
  • Distilled Vinegar
  • Salt

That’s all there is to it. Crystal Hot Sauce is made up of three basic ingredients, all of which contribute to its flavor.

The peppers in Crystal Hot Sauce

The cayenne peppers in Crystal Hot Sauce have a Scoville rating of between 30,000 and 50,000, which makes them four to twenty times hotter than a jalapeño pepper. However, the sauce itself offers a comparatively mild heat of 2,000 to 4,000 Scoville heat units (in line with the low end of the medium-heat jalapeño). Cayenne peppers originated in the Cayenne Region of French Guiana and are named for it. The cayenne peppers in Crystal Hot Sauce have been aged. Aging results in fermentation, which gives the peppers a mellower and more complex flavor that can be detected in the final product. Fermentation also boosts the sauce’s nutritional value as it utilizes bacteria that can be beneficial for gut health.

The other ingredients in Crystal Hot Sauce

Aside from the peppers, Crystal Hot Sauce also contains distilled white vinegar that serves as a complement to the heat of the peppers. Its acidic tang also helps to dilute the capsaicin and make a milder hot sauce. The vinegar is also important for the texture of Crystal Hot Sauce. Louisiana-style hot sauces are supposed to be runny; since Crystal Hot Sauce does not include water as an ingredient, distilled vinegar helps to give it a thin consistency.

The last ingredient in Crystal Hot Sauce is its salt. Salt is important for the flavor of the sauce and enhances both the peppers and the vinegar. Crystal Hot Sauce contains 135 mg of sodium in each 1-teaspoon serving, which amounts to 6 percent of your daily recommended intake. While 135 mg is not much more than the 120 mg of sodium in Louisiana Supreme Hot Sauce, compare it to the 35 mg from Tabasco Original Red Sauce and the 64 mg in Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce. The sodium content is quite a lot for a relatively small serving size, which means that it is not a low-sodium food; however, it is considerably lower amount than the 190 mg that you get from Frank’s RedHot Cayenne Sauce and the 200 mg from Louisiana Hot Sauce.

Preservatives in Crystal Hot Sauce

You will notice that there are no ingredients in Crystal Hot Sauce that are included for the sole purpose of increasing shelf life. This means no artificial preservatives like potassium sorbate or sodium benzoate. Crystal Hot Sauce only has three ingredients and all three have some preservative value. Both the fermented peppers and the distilled white vinegar help to increase the sauce’s acidity, thus creating a hostile environment for many bacteria. Similarly, salt helps to preserve food since many bacteria are unable to survive in a saline substance.

Photo credit: Crystal Hot Sauce | Angie Garrett | Flickr

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on September 5, 2019 to include new content.
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