Whether you add just a dab or pour it on till your nose and eyes run, it is important to have the right hot sauce for the occasion. Some prefer the acid of vinegar (oh hai, Tabasco), while others prefer the garlicky undertones of fermented products. With the bounty of produce farms and artisanal producers in the Hudson Valley, it should come as no surprise that there are a handful of local craft hot sauce brands to feed your fire.
Check out these six upstate hot sauce makers to lend your meals a little locally grown intensity.
A national and international brand, Horseshoe Brand sauces began modestly as a hobby product to share amongst family and friends. Horseshoe was founded in the kitchen of former Dutchess County Sheriff Deputy Ken Millet, who began bottling and selling his sauces in 2008. Pick your poison from the 12 all-natural sauces, ranging from the mild Original Barbeque to the fiery Xxxtra hot sauce, with tropical flavors such as Mango Fatali, Peach, Kiwi Jalapeno, and Maple Cayenne.
Raw Heat by Hawthorne Valley Farm
Hawthorne Valley Farm in Harlem Valley grows the lion’s share of the produce used for its ferments onsite at its organic, biodynamic farm. Their fermented goods include sauerkraut, carrots, kimchi, curtido and, of course, hot sauce. Raw Heat by Hawthorne Valley Farm is a wild-fermented ginger garlic hot sauce, a la sriracha. Wild-fermenting preserves nutrients and vitamins, while creating rich probiotics and beneficial enzymes, making it a living and probiotic. Raw Heat is produced with 95% local Hudson Valley ingredients that grown organically using regenerative practices.
Poor Devil Hot Sauce Co.
Fresh, organic vegetables, organic seasonings, and Celtic sea salt—them’s all the ingredients used in the hot sauces by Hudson-based Poor Devil Hot Sauce Co. Laura Webster and Jared Schwartz have been lacto-fermenting raw hot sauce since 2014, using local ingredients and creating products that are additive- and vinegar-free. Poor Devil has four flavors to choose from to match your spice capacity. Smoke Shifter is sweet and spicy. Mountain Mama is an everyday hot sauce; Smoke Shifter is sweet and spicy; Kali Curry is named after the Hindu goddess of destruction and annihilation, so go figure; and Green Widow is, well, a deathly strong jalapeño sauce. Poor Devil recently won a 2020 Good Food award for their honey mustard hot sauce Gold Tooth.
Hudson Valley Harvest Hot Sauce
A versatile sauce, Hudson Valley Harvest Hot Sauce can be used for wings, steak, marinating and whatever else you please. Hudson Valley Harvest is a local food distributor based in Kingston, which works with area farms to source ingredients to create their salsa, hot sauce, pear sauce, and other packaged goods with full sourcing transparency. Their hot sauce is a 100% Hudson Valley product made with ingredients from the iconic Hepworth Farms in Milton.
Beth’s Farm Kitchen Hot Sauce
Beth’s Farm Kitchen has been hand making craft condiments with local ingredients since 1981. They produce things from jams to marmalades, but, most importantly, they make a line of hot sauces. Flavors include cherry bomb, jalapeno, and habanero, and can pair with anything from popcorn to wings. All of BFK’s products are made with ingredients from area farms: Ironwood Farm, Blue Star Farm , Samascott's Farm and Orchards, Yonder Farm, Red Jacket Orchards, Philips Farm, Red Head Farms, and Love Apple Farms.
In September, Uptown Kingston got a lil’ spicier with the opening of new hot sauce purveyor Ram’s Valley. Trinidad-born owner Richard “Ram” Rajkumar uses fresh local produce to bring the flavor of the Carribean to the Hudson Valley with his line of sauces and spices. Rajkumar’s budding brand, manufactured in Kingston, currently boasts nine flavors ranging from mild to hot, including lime, habanero, roasted red pepper, Green Hulk, Flavor Me Mama (a mix of seven hot peppers), and the daunting Too Hot to Handle (you were warned). The North Front Street outpost also sells three proprietary flavors of fermented garlic paste—original, cilantro habanero, and ginger—jerk pepper and pineapple barbeque sauces, and bottled tropical fruit juices. Rajkumar has also teamed up with ARC of Mid-Hudson Valley to provide employment opportunities for people living with disabilities.