Tabasco -- a question about its heat.

Why does the heat of Tabasco seem to diminish more quickly than other hot sauces?

Amanda Hesser


RobertaJ October 12, 2011
Tabasco has always tasted more "vinegary" to me than hot. For Louisiana style hot sauce, I prefer Crystal, more of a heat-punch than the hit of sour vinegar flavor. For Mexican style hot sauce, it's Tapatio all the way, with an occasional excursion to Cholula-land.
SKK October 10, 2011
I agree that Tabasco sauce diminishes more quickly than other sauces. It may be that the vinegar ratio neutrializes it when cooking. When I want heat I use dried or whole peppers. Used to live in Lousiana and the good cooks used it to ehance not bring heat. Used it in mashed potatoes, soups, purees, eggs and on and on. Went on a tour to Avery Island once and understood the design to be pepper and bring flavor, not heat.
ichibanbrianne October 10, 2011
For mass-market hot sauces, I'm Texas Pete all the way. It's got the perfect heat to vinegar ratio. The flavor is bright. Tabasco's taste is one-dimensional (to me) and, yes, the heat does dissipate and I end up having to use so much more of it. (Brilliant product design though, make the taste disappear so you have to use more.) Plus, we "taste" heat and mint differently than we taste other flavors, and those metrics are most used in testing individual tasting abilities. (For a great article on taste and its many myths, see:
pierino October 10, 2011
Tabasco in my opinion rates highest among "hot" sauces. The flavor is mellow and balanced and that's why it's been around for so long. Hopefully we are past the moment in history when sauces with macho names like "Set Your Balls on Fire" have space on supermarket racks. Tabasco compliments many more foods than does Sriracha---which I happen to like---but everything in its place, right?
Sam1148 October 10, 2011
I actually like Tobasco sauce after it's aged a bit in the 'fridge or pantry. It mellows it out so you have 'wiggle room' instead of adding 3 drops to a dish with fresher product.
amysarah October 10, 2011
Yes, but vinegar is a preservative - it's been used as one since ancient times; so it seems like it would help maintain the chilies' flavor, not dissipate it.

Good question about Tabasco. No idea, except to say it doesn't have a whole lot of heat - relatively - to begin with.

boulangere October 10, 2011
I tend to think of Sriracha in a different category from hot sauces such as Tabasco because I find the flavor profile to be very different. I do agree that it may well be the vinegar component. As opposed to Cholula, for example, which is my son's favorite, in Tabasco, the vinegar is listed higher on the ingredient list than in Cholula. Too, Cholula contains a bit of xanthan gum, which likely causes the sauce to spread across you palate differently, and probably even to linger.
JessicaBakes October 10, 2011
What an intriguing question. I looked up the ingredients of Tabasco vs. Sriracha and found that tabasco includes much higher content of "other stuff" (i.e. vinegar) rather than just chiles. In my experience, vinegar tends to cook out of foods more readily than, say, straight red chiles. Tabasco, so I was informed by Wikipedia, is aged for 3 years in oak barrels, and I'd guess that a lot of its flavor is from this maybe it acts a little like wine in cooking?

Pure speculation, but now you've got me curious...
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