Hot sauce on eggs is the perfect way to light a fire under your ass in the morning. The best choice for my eggs has long been Trader Joe’s jalapeño pepper hot sauce (which, according to Reddit, has been discontinued, and I hate that they did this to me); the flavor is bold and a bit fruity, with heat that kicks but doesn’t linger so long that I can’t enjoy the flavor of my scramble. The only issue is the ground pepper fibers and seeds that often get caught at the mouth of the bottle, where they congeal into a peppery sludge until the point that the bottle stops producing.
My mother raised me to use every bit of everything, so I can’t just chuck the bottle when there is still pepper paste congregating inside, but its mouth and neck are far too small for me to stick in any utensils. So I flipped the bottle and checked out the ingredient list.
Only three ingredients made up that hot sauce: peppers, vinegar, and salt. I took a look at a few other bottles and saw the same thing–vinegar and water are the only liquid agents in most hot sauces; some, like Sriracha, are suspended in vinegar alone—vinegar adds the bite while water adds balance, and together these ingredients make this condiment one of America’s popular food accessories. Thus I was presented with a choice: whether to add water or add vinegar to thin out the thick mass of pepper accumulated in the neck of my bottle, while also snagging those smaller bits still clinging to the sides and bottom.
When this happens to you: choose vinegar. Unless you’re making a batch of hot sauce yourself and you need water to balance its strong, acidic flavors, adding water to a bottle of pre-made sauce is just going to dilute the flavor and make it kind of gross. Adding vinegar to the bottle stretches the original vinegary flavor and rehydrates the dry clusters sticking to the sides just enough to release them back into the mix.
The best way to do this is with the help of a small funnel, but you can also carefully pour a thin stream directly into the bottle. Place the funnel into the opening of the hot sauce bottle and add about a teaspoon of vinegar. It’s a good idea to start small—you’re just looking to release the stuck pieces, not refill the container. Replace the cap and give it a good shake. If there is still a lot of sauce adhering to the sides, repeat the process until it’s at a pourable consistency. Afterwards, add more hot sauce to your grocery list. Unless it has been discontinued, damnit.
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