Hot sauce is a beloved condiment for many people who love the intense heat (much like us here at Mikey V's), but just like other condiments, they may sit in your fridge or pantry for quite some time.
Which begs the question... does hot sauce get weaker with age? If you're like us and many others asking that question, you've come to the right place!
Today we're going to explore that simple question and get right down to it!
Does Hot Sauce Lose or Gain Heat Over Time
To answer the question simply, it depends. Sorry if that is not the answer you we're hoping for, but it's the truth! You can definitely say that all hot sauces either lose or gain heat a certain level of heat over time but it all depends on a number of factors.
These include things such as:
how it was stored
How long it has been sitting
So with that in mind, let's take a look at each of these contributing factors.
Examining the Ingredients: What Components Make up Hot Sauce and How Do They Contribute to Its Longevity?
Hot sauce is a condiment made up of various components that contribute to its heat and flavor. Most hot sauces contain some combination of vinegar (acid), peppers, spices, and other aromatics.
The vinegar in the hot sauce helps preserve it and also adds to its tanginess. The peppers are usually the main source of heat in hot sauces and can range from mild to extremely spicy depending on how much capsaicin the pepper contains. For those of you who may not know, capsaicin is the component that makes chile peppers hot).
Now, with capsaicin in the back of your head, know that there is also capsaicin extract, which is just an extremely strong and pure concentration of it. If the hot sauce was made with extract, then it's unlikely the hot sauce will get hotter over time, because it has already reached its peak level of spiciness.
On the other hand, if the hot sauce wasn't made with extract, it's possible that the hot sauce could become slightly hotter over a couple of days after making it as the oils from the capsaicin are extracted into the other ingredients.
The Effects of Air Exposure: How Does Exposure to Air Affect the Potency of Hot Sauce Over Time?
The other factor to consider when determining how hot sauce changes over time is air exposure. Although there are some blogs out there claiming that if your hot sauce is exposed to air, it will lose its potency, there doesn't seem to be much data supporting that.
With that being said, over time hot sauce CAN eventually turn colors due to oxidation and lose its freshness due to exposure to air. But this won't affect the level of spiciness of your hot sauce.
Refrigeration: Can Storing Your Hot Sauce in a Refrigerator Significantly Reduce Its Spiciness?
Another factor to consider when determining how hot sauce changes over time is properly storing... which should be done in a refrigerator. Many people believe that storing your hot sauce in the refrigerator will reduce its potency, but this isn't necessarily true.
Improperly storing will only make your hot sauce go bad sooner.
It's important to note that if you store your hot sauce in an airtight container in the fridge, it should maintain its flavor and heat just fine.
Again, going back to what we mentioned about air exposure, with improper storage, a hot sauce can lose its freshness, change color, and build up bacteria when stored improperly. Although that could change the flavor, it won't effect the heat levels.
On the flip side of things, although it won't lose its heat while staying properly stored in the fridge, it could increase its spiciness by having it stored in a higher-temperature environment.
Aging as an Advantage: Can Aging Actually Make Your Hot Sauce Hotter Due to the Break Down of the Chili Peppers?
There are some people who believe that allowing a hot sauce to age can actually make it hotter due to the chili peppers breaking down and releasing more capsaicin over time.
Now, although this could potentially be true with certain types of hot sauces, it won't necessarily happen with every single one. It really depends on the ingredients and how they react together after sitting for a long period of time.
Taste Test: How Will the Taste of Your Hot Sauce Change Over Time if Kept Properly Stored?
Finally, it's important to remember that hot sauce isn't just about the heat, but also the flavor. As your hot sauce ages and reacts with different ingredients, it may begin to develop a more complex flavor profile.
This is why it's always a good idea to taste test your hot sauces periodically.
Over time, you can also notice that your hot sauce can change color as we already mentioned, but it can also separate.
The oils may settle at the top of the bottle with everything else on the bottom. This doesn't mean that the hot sauce is bad or hotter though, it has just separated due to natural ingredient reactions. You can fix this by simply shaking the bottle with the lid closed before using it.
In addition to that, over time, you may see that bubbles have started to appear. If you see this, this is a big indicator that bacteria could be growing in your hot sauce and it may have gone bad, so it might be time to toss it.
So it's always important to properly store your hot sauce to avoid that from happening!
Heat Levels Overtime In Hot Sauces
The answer is that it all depends on a variety of factors. Your hot sauce do not necessarily get weaker or lose its spiciness with age. It's possible that the flavor may change over time, but the spiciness of a hot sauce will usually remain the same when stored properly.
Although if you are making a home made hot sauce, it is possible depending on how you made it, that it increases its heat level by a small amount within the first couple of days. But overall, you won't see that with your store-bought hot sauces. Properly storing your hot sauce is most important if you want to keep it fresh and keep it longer.
Above all else… Enjoy!
If we missed a question related to hot sauces not losing heat over time, make sure to leave a comment down below or send us a message on here and we'd be more than happy to answer it for you!