Monday, August 9, 2010

Hot Hot Hot Sauce

Early last week, as I was contemplating my food priorities and closing some of the 'loopholes' in my current program, I had a yummy treat-a bagel with scallion cream cheese and lox. What better condiment to go with my yummy treat? Hot Sauce.

For anyone who has never had a spicy novie, go out and make one, they are divine. Soak some lox in your favorite hot sauce overnight and then place on top of a toasted bagel spread with cream cheese. Add thinly sliced cucumbers and red onion. Jeeeeez. It is really good.

In my friendly office I knew several people who keep hot sauce in the fridge and I borrowed a tablespoon or so from someone I knew wouldn't mind. She had Trader Joe's brand of hot sauce, which from the cult following I figured would be a good options. It was delicious. But I looked at the ingredients afterwards just to check. They were (from memory-sorry if I omit something) Peppers, Garlic, Salt, Spices, Xanthan Gum. Xanthan Gum? Huh? Another colleague had a bottle of Cholula brand sauce and I checked that one. It had Xanthan Gum too.

Xanthan Gum is a fermented polysaccharide that is derived from corn syrup that is used as a thickener in many food application. Like HFCS it is made from food, but I don't really count it as food. It is fermented because the bacteria Xanthamonas campestris is introduced into standard issue corn syrup. The bacteria eats the sugar chains in the corn syrup breaking them down into a single substance that is like a colorless slime with properties similar to cornstarch. This bacteria Xanthamonas Camestris is the same bacteria responsible for black rot on vegetables like broccoli and the like. Xanthan Gum will not make you sick from the bacteria, but yet again. I don't really want to be eating this stuff.

When I went to the supermarket last weekend I checked different bottles to see who had what in there. All the varieties of Cholula all contained Xanthan Gum. Most of the small brand hot sauces did not. All the Roland varieties had some kind of stabilizer in there. They produce many types of products from regular hot sauce to Asian sriracha sauce. I found the ingredients to Tabasco Sauce online which I was pretty impressed about, they only use peppers, salt and vinegar.

My most favoritest hot sauce in the world is Frank's Red Hot. When I was pregnant with Thing 1 I would balance a plate of tater tots on my belly and eat each one drenched in Hot Sauce. I was surprised that I did not give birth to a tater tot actually. I ate an entire bag every week, by myself, without fail. I was really scared that I would have to give up my favorite hot sauce.

Thankfully, Frank's Red Hot only contains Aged Cayenne Peppers, Vinegar, Water, Salt and Garlic Powder. Whew! Another bullet dodged.

And by the way--Happy Birthday Thing 1!!

1 comment:

  1. In my friendly office, I kept both red and green Tabasco. Sometimes you feel like red and sometimes you feel like green! I love a cup of spicy gazpacho with a bagel, lox & cream cheese. I don't know why I never thought to put hot sauce on the lox. Thanks for the idea! I'm going to give it a try.

    I've been meaning to do some research into thickeners/stabilizers/emulsifiers myself so thanks for the 411 on xanthan gum. I knew there was a reason I don't want to eat it! The only thickening agent I'll eat at present is carageenan although I may change my mind about that once I find out how it's made. It comes from seaweed and I eat nori (sushi wrappers) so I figure that, for the time being, I'm OK with a little carageenan here and there. The other one I've banned until I know more is guar gum. That word "gum" really turns me off.