Billi Barker wasn’t sure why it was so he grew a bit of a hobby in the hot sauces of his specialty.
It was then that the whole nation became aware of the shortage of Sriracha.
Barker had a great harvest last year, St. Organic hot peppers grown at Albans Fire Fly Farm. She has four cases of her Sriracha sauce on hand and enough pepper to make another four.
“Someone recently asked me how much I could earn from supplying one of their customers,” Barker said. “I think I’d better start bringing it to farmers’ markets.”
Supermarkets around Bangor are reporting empty shelves where the California-produced Sriracha cock seal and green cap are usually found. As the summer progresses, it may become more difficult to find hot sauce on the shelves. Instead, those looking for an extra shot should turn to local suppliers or experiment with homemade recipes.
The reason for the reduction in supply is the harsh weather conditions affecting the quality of the peppers used to make the sauce in Irwindal, California, where Huy Fong Foods, Inc. uses about 50,000 pounds of peppers each year.
Huy Fong Foods, where Mexico receives chillies, has been hit hard by droughts and reduced the quality and quantity of hybrid red jalapeno peppers. In an April email to its customers, Huy Fong Foods said it would not be able to produce its products without the essential ingredients including Sriracha chili sauce, garlic sauce and Sambal Oel sauce.
The company has also said it will not accept any new applications and that applications from April onwards will not be filled until September.
This is bad news for fans of the thick, spicy sauce used for wings and jumps.
Barker, known to his friends as the “queen of condition,” understands why people may be worried about a summer without Main Sriracha.
“It’s so versatile, and it helps to add a little warmth and flavor,” he said. “If something is missing from your plate, add a drop or two of Sriracha.”
Barker sells his sauce at farmers markets in Belfast, Orono and Bangor. In addition to peppers, he grows garlic and bees for the honey used in his sauce.
Anne L’Heureux is a dietitian at Hannaford Supermarkets in Maine and said if you can’t find Sriracha, consider what you’re doing when trying to guess a substitute.
“Would it make sense to use a dry rub or a spice to give that heat?” he said. “Or if you want more of a sauce, you can go with a standard hot sauce or a buffalo sauce.”
If there is no Sriracha in supermarkets, specialty grocery stores, or farmers markets, Barker said you can make your own using simple recipes found online.
A well-known recipe from the Allrecipes online cooking site involves simply removing a pound of jalapeño red pepper by removing the stalks, removing a pound of half a pound of red pepper, a third of a glass of water, four garlic cloves, three cloves. tablespoons light brown sugar and a tablespoon of kosher salt until smooth.
Transfer the puree to a large glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in a cool, dark place for three to five days, stirring and scraping the sides once a day. The mixture will begin to bubble and ferment. When the bubble is bubbling, pour it back into the blender and add half a cup of the distilled white vinegar and mix until smooth. Strain the puree through a fine-mesh strainer into a tin pan and discard what is left in the strainer. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened. It should take between five and 10 minutes. The sauce will thicken slightly as it cools. When it has cooled to room temperature, pour it into a bowl and place in the refrigerator.
“It’s really easy to do,” Barker said. “Peppers, water, vinegar, salt, garlic and a little bit of sweetener, [and] the only difficult part is fermenting the peppers. ‘
If DIY isn’t your style, L’Heureux said people often ignore the ingredients they usually have on hand – such as black pepper, cayenne pepper, or red pepper flakes – that can add warmth to a dish.
“You can get things like hot sauce or hot hummus or pepper jack cheese, you can use it as a‘ topper ’to add a little heat,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to think from the outside.”