Billy Barker wasn’t sure why there had been a slight increase in interest in her special hot sauces.
Then she heard about Sriracha’s national shortage.
Last year, Barker had a large harvest of organic hot peppers grown on his Fire Fly farm in St. Albans. She has four cans of her Sriracha sauce on hand and enough peppers to make four more.
“I was recently approached by someone who was wondering how much I could do to supply one of his clients,” Barker said. “I guess I’d better start bringing it to the farmers markets.”
Supermarkets in the Bangor area report empty shelves, usually home to California-made Sriracha with a rooster print and a green hat. With the end of summer, it can become harder to find hot sauce on the shelves. Instead, those looking for an extra punch may need to turn to local vendors or experiment with homemade recipes.
The reason for the shrinking supply is the severe weather conditions that affect the quality of hot peppers used to make the sauce at the Irvinedale, California plant, where Huy Fong Foods, Inc. uses approximately 50,000 pounds of peppers a year.
Ongoing drought conditions in parts of Mexico, where Huy Fong Foods supplies its hot peppers, have drastically reduced the quality and quantity of hybrid jalapeno red peppers. In an email to its customers in April, Huy Fong Foods said it would not be able to produce any of its products without the main ingredient, including Sriracha hot chili sauce, hot chili sauce and Sambal Oelek sauce.
The company also said it does not accept new orders and orders placed after April will not be executed until September.
This is bad news for lovers of the thick, spicy sauce, which is used for everything from wings to dips.
Barker, who is known as the “queen of spices” to her friends, understands why people may be a little worried about the summer in Maine without Sriracha.
“It’s so versatile and adds little to the warmth and flavor,” she said. “If something is missing in your dish, just add a drop or two of Sriracha.
Barker sells his sauce at farmers’ markets in Belfast, Orono and Bangor. In addition to peppers, she grows garlic and raises bees for the honey used in her sauce
Anne L’Heureux is a nutritionist at Hannaford Supermarkets in Maine and said that if Sriracha is not found, think about what you do when trying to come up with a replacement.
“Does it make sense to use dry rub or spice to give you that warmth?” She said. “Or if you want more than sauce, you can use standard hot sauce or buffalo sauce.”
If there is no Sriracha to be found in supermarkets, specialty grocery stores or farmers’ markets, Barker said you can also make your own using simple recipes found online.
A popular recipe from the online cooking site Allrecipes involves simply mixing a pound of red jalapeno peppers with the stalks removed, a pound of red serrano peppers with the stalks removed, a third of a glass of water, four cloves of garlic, three tablespoons of light brown sugar and a tablespoon. beehive salt until smooth.
Transfer the puree to a large glass jar, cover with plastic wrap and place in a cool, dark place for three to five days, stirring and scraping the walls once a day. The mixture will begin to bubble and ferment. When it bubbles, pour it back into the blender and add half a glass of distilled white vinegar and blend until smooth. Strain the puree through a fine mesh strainer into a saucepan and discard what is left in the strainer. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium heat, stirring often, until thickened. This should take between five and 10 minutes. The sauce will thicken slightly until cool. Once cooled to room temperature, pour it into a jar and place in the refrigerator.
“It’s really easy to do,” Barker said. “It’s just peppers, water, vinegar, salt, garlic and a little sweetener, [and] the only hard part is fermenting the peppers. “
If DIY isn’t your style, L’Heureux said people often overlook ingredients they usually have on hand – such as freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper or paprika flakes – that can add warmth to a dish. .
“You can get things like tzatziki sauce or hot hummus or pepper jack cheese that you can use as a topper to add a little warmth,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.”