Hot, Hot, Hot: Spicy Sriracha Sauce

A spicy, garlicky sauce, sriracha is a common condiment used a lot of different foods. But what gives it that specific taste and where does that vibrant color come from?
In the video above, the basic ingredients listed are:

  • vinegar
  • garlic
  • salt
  • sugar
  • Potassium sorbate: prevents mold and yeast within the product and is found in dairy products and wines.
  • Sodium bisulfite: stops the natural browning process when fresh produce is oxidized. This gives it the nice red color.
  • red chili peppers : within the peppers are capsaicinoids, with break up into two more groups: capaicin and dihydrocapsaicin, which make up most the the spice and heat! This “…triggers the TRPV1 receptors protein… which usually respond once the temperature is above 109 degrees F, thus causing the spicy hot sensation,” states the video. ¬†Endorphins are then released. Peppers are part of the Capsicum genus.

However, not all peppers have the same temperature. That is why the Scoville scale was invented, which measures heat with scoville units, from 0 to 16,000,000 scovilles. ( I hope I am spelling that right. It’s abbreviation is SHU.)

Capaicin is extracted from the peppers and mixed in a solution of water and sugar. This is added until a taste tester can’t taste the heat. Every dilution of the sugar and water increases the scale. This has been criticized though, as people can taste to different extents. For example, my mom is more sensitive to heat, while I am not. My dad is even less sensitive than I am.

High performance liquid chromatography is now used, as it is easier and more reliable to give accurate results. This uses American Spice Trade Association Pungency units to measure the heat. One pungency unit is about 1/15 of a SHU.

Sriracha, on the Scoville scale, is from 1000-2500 SHU, while Tabasco sauce can be from 2500-5000 SHU. In retrospect to some peppers, it’s not that hot, but for me, it’s more than enough!

All information came from the video above.

So ta ta for now and I hope to see your chemical reaction soon!