With temperatures slowly on the rise, its finally that time of year again . . . pepper gardening has officially begun! I love getting my pots and planters ready outside on the STOOP (and down the walkway at THIS point), ready to bring life to a new generation of colorful pepper babies. I've had many restrictions within living situations that have prevented me to fully scale a pepper seed germination project, so I've been purchasing saplings online from select organic farmers the past few years for my STOOP garden!
So, as you can probably infer, especially if you haven't scrolled down the main page and read the "Our Story" section, the name STOOP SAUCE comes from the years of growing peppers outside on my STOOP and turning them into my very own homemade hot sauce. I'd share these batches with friends and family, but mostly devour gallons upon gallons between my fiance and I right there in our apartment! The STOOP SAUCE which it came to be was actually NOT the first hot sauce I've ever made. In fact, it was a couple of years prior when I was still living at home with my mom.
Hot sauce wasn't always a passion of mine when I was younger, but I was never shy about it whatsoever. I would regularly eat hot sauce whenever it was around (late at night with a bag of chips and some sauce until the bottle was gone...ehem) , but was completely unaware of the entire community and vast majority of sauces there really were! My go-to sauces were all the commercially available mainstream pepper sauces every supermarket has that really don't enhance the flavor of anything, but instead masks it with an overwhelming taste of vinegar and salt. The amount of sodium in these sauces is insane if you really take a look! It all changed though when one year, I decided that I wanted to try out some gardening in the backyard of my moms house. So I went shopping to gather all of my supplies; bags of soil, natural organic fertilizer, and a little trowel & hand-rake set. This was about mid-May that year, so I needed to get some juvenile plants, and fast!
I headed over to the gardening section, and my main ideas of what I would plant was going to be tomato plants, basil, and perhaps some jalapeno plants. But as I strolled around all the selections of flowers and vegetables, I noticed, just down one of the plant filled aisles, past the tomatoes and bell peppers, were GHOST PEPPERS! I've never had anything with Ghost Pepper before, but to see that they had trays of these pepper plants made me really curious & excited. I wondered if I really could successfully grow these plants and actually get some menacingly red super hot peppers in the end. I'm pretty sure I ended up leaving there with quite a number of those Ghost Pepper plants, as well as some Habanero, Serrano, Jalapeno, and Tomato plants!
Gardening that year in my moms backyard truly became my entire summer. I remember going home on my lunch breaks solely to make sure everything was properly watered during the hot summer days whilst wearing my button up & slacks. It was then when I discovered how rewarding taking care of a garden is, watching your plants grow taller and taller as the weeks go by, slowly producing flowers, which slowly started to produce these little green pepper sprouts one by one. It's one of those cool eye opening parts of life, helping something along until it reaches its full potential.
Near the end of that summer, it was time to begin the bountiful harvest. After freeing the peppers from their stems and bringing them inside, the first thing I decided to do was to celebrate my success . . . but how? Well of course by trying my first ever Ghost Pepper by eating the entire pepper raw, just like I've seen the L.A. Beast attempt in one of his many insane Youtube videos. Was it a good idea? No. Was it a great idea? Absolutely! I'm pretty sure I burned and drooled for a good 20 minutes, but in the craziest way, I enjoyed every moment of it. THIS is what a ghost pepper felt like, and it was the coolest thing to be able to actually experience it!
So after a week or so of making fresh salsa with the harmless Jalapenos and Serranos for the household, it was time I do something with the hotter ones of the bunch before they were to start going bad or needed to be preserved. It didn't take long for me to think of the one thing hot peppers are most likely to be used for, so I got to work on the inevitable, making my very first hot sauce. I had roasted the Habaneros, Ghost Peppers, Tomatoes, and some Lemons we had in the fridge for a good hour or so, because I figured it might do something, mixed it all together with what was too much vinegar, and boiled it on the stove for a good while. I used our rarely touched blender to blend up the chunky mess that it currently was, which is NOT recommended since the boiling hot contents WILL explode in the confined space of said blender (ever have boiling hot sauce in your eye?), and cooked it on the stove once more for good measure.
Now, it wasn't the best sauce, and nowhere near what STOOP SAUCE has become, but it was the beginning. The start of my venture down the homemade hot sauce rabbit hole, producing countless amounts of recipes and cooks for the coming years. It inspired what STOOP SAUCE was to be, a flavorful garden fresh hot sauce made from all natural whole ingredients.
With production as it now has become, we of course need to gather our ingredients from elsewhere, while staying true to the garden fresh flavor! STOOP SAUCE has always been locally grown when it started on the STOOP, and that's the way I like to keep it. We source our ingredients as much as possible from Staten Island, New York, & New Jersey, and our peppers come from select family farms who specialize in all natural farming and use environmentally friendly practices.
Perhaps one day STOOP SAUCE will be made with all ingredients locally supplied from it's very own STOOP FARM, bringing it full circle to where it all began. It's a dream we'd love to strive for, but for now, let's not lose track of what's important; producing the very best small batch artisan hot sauce that we possibly can, with a garden fresh flavor that's true to it's roots.
Embrace the heat, Enjoy the burn.
- Desert Roach, Sauce Boss