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August 02, 2022
Cultures worldwide each have their own celebrated hot sauce, and here in the States we’re rather familiar with brands which celebrate those different styles like Cholula, Tabasco, Valentina, Frank’s Red Hot, Pure Crystal and Sriracha. So where would we say Gindo’s falls? Immigrants from all over the world during the last century and a half have left their indelible mark on Midwestern cuisine, each with their own way to spice things up. Gindo’s Hot Sauce limited edition sauces echo and preserve those spicy traditions, but with signature artistry. With other hot sauce companies now following suit, we’re noticing the emergence of unique qualities celebrating the Midwest’s diverse ethnic and agricultural history and its distinct cuisine.
While some hot sauce brands sun dry their peppers, separating the best seeds to create a paste in order to add it as an ingredient in their recipe, some ferment and age their peppers as is typical with many Louisiana and Latin picante style hot sauces. On the other hand, Midwestern style hot sauce most often plucks and uses the whole pepper, right off the plant from local farms. Typically buffalo style sauces containing the key ingredients of cayenne, onion, and garlic powders contrast dramatically with the celebration of the fresh and local farm version of these ingredients in this categorical Midwestern style. Gindo’s works with local farms regularly to grow peppers and fresh produce needed in all original and limited edition sauces.
The Midwest is known for its tillable soil and vast expanses of farmland. While the growing season is shorter here in zone five than it is where many hot sauce peppers originate, Chris Ginder has had plenty of success working with local farmers cultivating varietals which mature well in the shorter growing season. Peppers like hot weather, and they tend to ripen best when night temperatures fall between 65 and 85 degrees. Luckily, here in the Midwest, we may have a cold wet spring, but temperatures often soar into the 90s starting in mid June, leaving ample time through August for peppers to reach their peak. For example, the Aji Rico pepper, which originates from South America, is perfect for the short growing season in the Midwest. This crunchy, citrusy, thin walled pepper can be eaten at any stage - green or red - and is often ready to pick as early as 55 days past planting.
Carolina Reaper is famed to be the hottest pepper in the world, but the newer Chocolate Bhutlah, which is a cross between the Bhut Jolokia and the Douglah pepper, has a chocolatey brown color with initial fruity and floral notes on the tongue, and is claimed to be potentially even hotter. At its best, it’s approximately 800 times hotter than a typical jalapeno pepper. It can be and is grown right here in the Midwest. While Gindo’s is never a sauce to cinch on flavor over heat, sensitive palates might want to hold fast to more mild varieties grown here like Gindo’s mainstay Jalapeno Poblano, and limited editions Aji Verde, or Habanada.
Louisiana and Latin picante styles sauces usually lend some tang and have quite a bit of vinegar as a main ingredient. Caribbean style hot sauce is pepper forward often sweetened with high fructose corn syrup and juice extras. Midwestern style hot sauce is fresh and pepper forward. Acidity is well balanced with fresh produce. Chris Ginder loves to utilize red, green, and yellow bell peppers up front to stave off overpowering vinegar and pepper heat, in turn growing a heat on the back end which doesn’t overpower the sauce’s ability to adapt with the foodie driven culture in cities like Chicago, Madison, Cincinnati, St. Louis, or Minneapolis. Fresh fruit pulp, herbs and spices, round out the farm fresh take on already well known styles of hot sauce.Gindo’s Original Fresh & Spicy is a perfect example of our take on Louisiana style hot sauce, for instance.
Because Midwestern based hot sauce companies are forward facing with farm fresh ingredients, and creatively infusing with chocolate, espresso, beer, liquor, bacon and more in collaboration with local crafters and growers, Midwestern style hot sauce is perfectly poised to take the urban foodie scene to the next level. Instead of sticking to one flavor profile or cuisine style, Midwestern based companies are boldly putting their fresh spin on existing styles of hot sauce, worldwide, and also concocting creative new flavor profiles of their own. It’s a culinary inspiration in and of itself, but it’s also an invitation to get creative with food pairing.
While Gindo’s is one of the first and foremost in Midwestern style hot sauce utilizing farm fresh ingredients and locally grown peppers for versatility in cuisine, we’re thrilled to be alongside other pioneers in this growing category. Here’s to a culture of supporting fresh and local and a new signature style of hot sauce - Heartland Heat.
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