Our main blends are a 50/50 mix of fermented pepper puree and liquor. One tenth of one percent of the total weight of the mixture is calculated, and that amount of xanthan gum is added to tighten up the consistency a bit. Our ingredient lists include salt. We don't add it. Farmers add salt to their peppers after the harvest to prevent spoilage during the fermentation process.
No sugar, no onion powder, artificial smoke, garlic powder, or anything else. The concept is the purest pepper flavor you can get. Vinegar is so potent, so pungent, so powerful, it clashes with and drowns out pepper flavor.
Swamp Dragon hot sauces are all natural. They are gluten free, vegetarian, and GMO free. They also are vinegar free, in fact, with no added acids whatsoever. No added citric acid, malic acid, or any other kind of acid. Swamp Dragon hot sauces are about as acidic as a typical fresh tomato, and they offer completely new flavor experiences.
Why is Swamp Dragon so special and so unique?
Shelf stable hot sauces fall into a category known as "acidified food products." Acidifying is a preservation method, and is used in familiar foods like pickles, capers, and sauces. The idea is that if the product is acid enough, mold and bacteria can't survive, so it doesn't spoil. Vinegar is acid - acetic acid to be specific.
White vinegar works best as a preservative.
Aged balsamics are mild and sweet, but lost enough acidity in aging that they won't function as preservatives. Again, the more acidic, the greater the preservative function. White vinegar is a handy preservative, but it has limitations, most importantly, smell and taste. It is acrid and overpowering, masking food flavors and smells rather than enhancing them. We know the English love their fish and chips with white vinegar, and some folks cook their cabbage with it. (Here at Swamp Dragon, we use it for cleaning windows.) But what if we want a hot sauce without it? If you want vinegar, reach for the vinegar. But if you reach for hot sauce, did you really meant to reach for the vinegar?
If a chef wants to use acid in cooking, he or she might reach for a lemon or a lime. What if chef prepared a ceviche with lime, but wants to spice it a bit without adding MORE acid?
And how much acid can you handle? When does the reflux start? How do you feel the day after? Is acid the limiting factor of your enjoyment of hot sauces?
Thus, a Baby Dragon is born! Rum, Bourbon, Vodka, and Tequila don't spoil on a shelf, right? And we've all seen the old Westerns where the guy bites down on the wood bark while someone pours whiskey on his thigh to sterilize that wound while he extracts the bullet with a toad sticker! So maybe it would preserve a hot sauce? Why yes! Yes it will!
Matt Beeson invented Swamp Dragon hot sauce with the idea to replace vinegar with flavorful stuff that people actually enjoy, spirit alcohols. Two years of independent research turned up no meaningful proof of concept (or that it had been done before.) Yes, he found so-called bourbon hot sauce or tequila hot sauce, but in all cases, some paltry amount of the good stuff was added to a bottle full of vinegar-based stuff. So it was a marketing trick.
Eventually, Beeson turned to Louisiana State University to investigate the food science/food safety aspect of a liquor-based hot sauce. Dr. Marvin Moncada, Ph.D, C.F.S., confirmed that the concept was sound, and marveled that it had apparently never been done. Thus, an entirely new method for creating hot sauce that is both quintessentially hot sauce, and yet completely different, new, and exciting...
When Swamp Dragon's final formula was complete, the products (bourbon hot sauce, vodka hot sauce, tequila hot sauce, and rum hot sauce) were tested in an age accelerated shelf life study at L.S.U., which confirmed a shelf life beyond three years. The flavor and aroma were unchanged, the sauce exhibited no microbial activity, and did not discolor or separate.
Unlike the pretenders, Swamp Dragon is not "bourbon-infused" or "tequila-flavored." Liquor is not a marketing trick for Swamp Dragon. It is a key differentiator, the fundamental difference between Swamp Dragon and every other shelf stable hot sauce in the world. Swamp Dragon uses actual bourbon. Swamp Dragon uses actual tequila (or vodka or rum).
Beeson sent physical samples and formulae to the United States Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau Non-Beverage Laboratory, which confirmed that Swamp Dragon hot sauces are not suitable as beverages, and thus are not age restricted. Beeson filed a patent on his invention, knowing that every state in the Union has laws against adulterated food products, and that his creation made excellent use of the functional preservative and flavor-enhancing properties of alcohol without offending any of those laws.
Due to the logarithmic property of the pH scale, Swamp Dragon hot sauce is approximately 14-16 TIMES less acidic than the world's leading brand of hot sauce. While we make no specific health claims, it stands to reason that folks who love spicy foods but cannot tolerate acid may enjoy Swamp Dragon products without discomfort.
And talk about flavor! Cooking with alcohol is a time-honored method for enhancing food taste and aroma. Did you know that alcohol molecules bind to fat and water molecules? This is why a bit of white wine in your beurre blanc adds such depth and richness. It's why pairing wines with foods can create a stellar dining experience. From beer in chili to liquor in bananas foster, alcohol is a wonderful flavor enhancer, and Swamp Dragon hot sauce is uniquely able to both add a clean heat to cuisine and use the magic ingredient to add complexity and intensity to foods and beverages of all kinds.
We believe the aroma of bourbon, for example, pairs really well with duck and andouille gumbo, where white vinegar clashes. We believe hot chocolate spiced gently with our Rum Dragon is a delight on a cold Winter night, and a thing no one should try with vinegar.
Our peppers are sourced GMO free. The sauce is vegan, gluten free, all-natural, and altogether delicious and remarkable.
Swamp Dragon hot sauces are available in 4 special and revolutionary blends!
Try our bourbon hot sauce, affectionately called The Bourbon Dragon, on burgers, pizza, or gumbo for a smoky sweet addition of flavor layers and complexity with a smooth heat.
Our tequila hot sauce, The Tequila Dragon, naturally enhances any taco, tamale, or margarita, adding a peppery zip and the subtle floral notes in the blue agave without the bitterness of inferior hot sauces.
A true rum hot sauce, The Rum Dragon, with a hint of the characteristic sweet Southern molasses found in tropical rums, adds balance to rum punches, and enriches ribs, wings, and even chocolate, cookies, and ice creams!
The world's only real vodka-based hot sauce, The Vodka Dragon, delivers the purest pepper flavor of any hot sauce in the world! As an unflavored spirit, vodka preserves our hot sauce in a way that lets the natural fruit flavors in the pepper to really shine through! Try it in your bloody mary, on your omelette, even in your maple syrup when eating the Southern classic chicken and waffles! It's amazing!
Swamp Dragon products are sure to spark your creativity and send your palette on an unimagined flavor odyssey! Try it in ways you never thought possible. What are your ideas?