News from CRIS: Trending - Hot Sauce Overview

February 7, 2022

What is hot sauce?

In the U.S., hot sauce typically refers to any sauce, salsa, or seasoning made primarily from chili peppers, found in the genus Capsicum, combined with other ingredients. 
Chili peppers are native to the Americas and spread across the globe through trade routes and were further cultivated throughout the world. 

What ingredients are common in hot sauce?

Chili peppers of all varieties are the main ingredient in hot sauces providing their fiery flavor. 
Other common ingredients include vinegar, citrus fruits (lemons, limes, etc.), seasonings (e.g., garlic), salt, and other vegetables and fruits often pickled in the sauce. 

Why is it spicy? 

We experience the spicy flavor and sensation due to capsaicin. Capsaicin is the active component found in chili peppers. 
Capsaicin is considered a chemical irritant and produces a burning sensation when mammals, including humans, come in contact with the chemical ingredient. 
We often intentionally come into contact with capsaicin through cooking. However, it doesn't only cause a burning sensation when eaten. When in contact, it can cause a burning sensation on our skin, eyes, and other body parts. 
The burning sensation is most intense on body parts with mucous membranes (e.g., eyes, nose, mouth, etc.). That's why it's essential to wear gloves when handling chili peppers and wash our hands after handling the peppers. 


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