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If you’re not planning on using your homemade hot sauce right away, it might be a good idea to set it in the freezer and keep it there for an extended period of time. However, you should know some things about freezing hot sauce before doing it.
If you consider freezing your hot sauce, keep in mind that acidity and salt will prolong the freezing process and mess up the taste and texture. Water-based liquids and oils will separate in the freezer. If you ferment your hot sauce, fermentation will stop when your hot sauce is stored at a low temperature.
In this article, we’ll discuss five things to keep in mind if you’re thinking about freezing your homemade hot sauce because it isn’t always the best idea.
Let’s see what exactly happens to hot sauce when stored in the freezer.
1. Can You Freeze Hot Sauce?
It’s possible to freeze hot sauce, but doing so will ultimately affect the taste and texture of your sauce. Acidic ingredients and salt will prolong the freezing time, and large ice crystals will form as the sauce slowly freezes, ruining its texture and flavor upon defrosting.
Let’s explore this further.
Some hot sauce recipes feature A LOT of salt. This is partly to improve the taste. On the other hand, salt works as a preservative, prolonging the shelf life of your sauce. However, as you might know, salt doesn’t freeze well. Salt is even used to melt ice on the roads when it’s dangerous outside.
Most hot sauces are somewhat acidic since they contain ingredients like peppers, garlic, and vinegar. The hot sauce’s pH level determines the freezing process.
These pH levels go up to 14. Anything lower than 7 is acidic, with anything closer to 0 being increasingly acidic. Stomach acid, for example, has a pH level of 1. A lower pH level is essential for the taste of your sauce and to kill bacteria for preservation purposes.
The recommended pH level for hot sauces is around 3.4. The pH level, along with the salt level, both determine the freezing point of the hot sauce. A lower pH level and a higher salt level will result in foods freezing at lower temperatures.
If you’re curious about the pH level of your homemade hot sauce, you can buy some pH meters online, like this Apera Instruments Tester Kit on Amazon.com. You can use this tester in the kitchen and for other purposes.
You can also buy the Fermentaholics pH Strips Dispenser on Amazon.com, which isn’t an electronic meter but works with test strips. The strips measure acidic levels up to 6, which is perfect for hot sauce. It’s often used for kombucha, but you can use it for any fluids with a pH level from zero to six. It is also perfect for testing your fermented hot sauce if you plan on trying out a recipe. At 15ft (4,57m) a roll, there’s more than enough for you to use for a while.
2. What Happens When Hot Sauce is Frozen?
When you freeze hot sauce, different parts of the sauce freeze at different rates based on several food characteristics, like density, acidity, etc. Oil also doesn’t ‘freeze’ the way water does.
You probably already know that water-based liquids and oils do not mix if you’ve ever made hot sauce at home. That’s why hot sauce recipes often use emulsifiers like mustard, pectin, or xanthan gum. An emulsifier helps avoid separation in your homemade sauce.
In the freezer, however, the liquids separate again. Oil becomes solid at a different rate than water turns into ice. As both substances harden, they will push the other substance out, sequentially turning into solid separately.
If your sauce has separated in the freezer and you don’t know exactly how to fix it when thawed, here are some tips:
- Shake your container with the lid closed.
- Blend your sauce.
- Add an emulsifier (like mustard or egg yolks), then blend the sauce.
3. Will Hot Sauce Last Longer if Frozen?
If you’re not planning on using your homemade hot sauce anytime soon, it might be a good idea to store a batch in the freezer.
Hot sauce will last longer if frozen but this depends on the type of sauce and the ingredients used. Generally, when hot sauce is opened, it can last up to 12 months in the freezer. However, the taste and texture will deteriorate when it defrosts.
If ‘lasting longer’ includes maintaining its good taste and pleasant texture, then you probbaly don’t want to freeze your hot sauce. You will be able to keep your homemade sauce for longer, but there’s a big chance it won’t taste like the sauce you made. You can, of course, still make some changes after defrosting it, like adding spices and flavor enhancers to get back up to the spice level you want.
On average, you should be able to keep opened hot sauce in your freezer for about a year. However, the sauce must be fresh before it goes into the freezer. If you’re unsure how long the sauce was in your fridge, you’ll know if it’s still okay to eat after it has completely defrosted. The smell, color, and taste will give it away if it has spoiled.
4. Why Freezing Hot Sauce Isn’t Necessarily a Good Idea
Freezing peppers can cause a loss of flavor in your sauce, and so can freezing salt. Hot sauce packs a lot of flavors, and freezing the sauce will deteriate those flavors, which kind of defeats the purpose of a good hot sauce.
Let’s dig deeper into what happens when you freeze your hot sauce.
The salt in sauces will lose its taste in the freezer. If you depend on salt to enhance the flavor of your homemade hot sauce, don’t put the hot sauce in your freezer.
If you decide to store the sauce in the freezer, you can add more salt once it defrosts. There will be a difference in flavor, but it’s the only way to fix the problem.
If your homemade hot sauce is fermented, you shouldn’t put it in the freezer. The cold temperature will stop the fermentation process and kill the bacteria and probiotics, negating the health benefits.
Fermentation also improves your sauce’s taste over time, which won’t be possible anymore in the freezer.
If you use oil and salt in your hot sauce, the taste will be very different after defrosting. Salt will make the fat break down and leave an awful aftertaste. Not only will the salt make the oily substances taste horrible, but it will also cause an unpleasant smell.
Don’t use oil in hot sauces you plan to freeze to avoid the separation problem and, more importantly, avoid the horrible taste and smell!
5. How to Freeze Hot Sauce?
If you still want to freeze your hot sauce, always use an air-tight, freezer-safe container to ensure the flavor and texture don’t change too much. Also, make sure to leave some room in the container for movement because liquids expand when frozen.
When buying containers, always choose freezer-safe ones. Otherwise, they might crack from the cold if they are not built for it.
You can buy some great containers for your homemade sauce online, like the KITHELP Food Storage Containers, on Amazon.com. It’s a 28-piece deal with freezer-safe containers. The containers are also microwave- and dishwasher-safe and come with air-tight lids. These are perfect for storing your homemade hot sauce.
If you prefer bottles for storing your hot sauce, Amazon.com has some fantastic high-quality, freezer-safe bottles. These Komax Reusable Juice Bottles come in a 4-pack. They have a wide opening, making it easier to pour the sauce into them without spillage. The bottles are also freezer- and dishwasher-safe.
While it is totally possible to freeze your hot sauce, it is not recommended as the process can severely affect the taste of your hot sauce. However, if you still decide to go this route, it is technically possible, as long as you use the right equipment.