Turn the heat up in your kitchen or on your dining table by adding hot sauce to everything you eat on January 22, because it is Hot Sauce Day.
While the origins of this spicy holiday are unknown, it is clear that the anonymous creators of the day wanted to honor the myriad hot sauces available in kitchens and pantries around the world.
The Many Different Types of Hot Sauces
Hot sauce is a condiment made by crushing or pureeing raw, cooked, smoked, or pickled chili peppers with spices. Different parts of the world use different kinds of chili peppers as the base for their hot sauces. For example, hot sauces in Mexico are usually made of chipotle or jalapeño peppers, while in Jamaica, scotch bonnet peppers are popularly used to make hot sauces. Other popular chili peppers used in hot sauces include habaneros, Thai chili peppers, green chiles, Sichuan peppers, and bird's eye chili.
In some countries, hot sauces are made by crushing the peppers in vinegar, while in other countries, vinegar is replaced by a tomato or carrot based puree. Oil is often used as a way to bring out the flavors and heat of the peppers in many Middle Eastern countries.
The Scoville Scale
Native to the Americas, chili peppers were spread around the world by Spanish and Portuguese traders. Today, these fruits of the capsicum plant are used for spicing up food and as medicine by people around the world.
Chili peppers get their heat from chemical compounds called capsaicinoids. The amount of these compounds in a chili pepper is measured by the Scoville Scale - the higher the rating a pepper has on the scale, the more capsaicinoids it has and the more intense the chili flavor it has.
In addition to being used in cooking and baking, chilis are also used as topical medicines for aches and pains and to manufacture pepper spray, a non-lethal form of defensive weapon.
How to Celebrate?
Add your favorite hot sauce to everything you eat today.
Try out new types and brands of hot sauce.
If you have never made hot sauce at home, today is the chance to do it. Go to your local farmer's market and pick up a variety of chilis and get started.
Did You Know…
…that India is the world's largest producer and consumer of chili peppers?