Stock Up: Three Southern hot sauces you should try

Carolina hot sauce from Red Clay Hot Sauce. Courtesy of Amanda Greeley

Credit: Amanda Greeley

Credit: Amanda Greeley

We find it fascinating how many different ways there are to make hot sauce, and how many different people are doing it. At least one of these three Southern sauces will take care of that craving for heat, whether you want just a bit, or a big kick.

Carolina hot sauce from Red Clay Hot Sauce

Georgia-born chef Geoff Rhyne named his company for the red clay fields of his grandparents' farm in Ellaville. Work brought him to Charleston, South Carolina, where he created a hot sauce made with fresh Fresno peppers. Now, there are four hot sauces and two varieties of hot honey. We tried the Carolina hot sauce, which includes Carolina reaper peppers for heat and white wine vinegar for tang. It’s aged in bourbon barrels for three months, and is hotter than Rhyne’s original favor. But, it still works with raw oysters, as well as on avocado toast and hot chicken, mixed into pimento cheese, and in dozens of combinations dreamed up by the sauce’s many fans. We enjoyed this bright red, almost translucent sauce and its pourable texture. It’s easy to drizzle on roasted butternut squash, add a few drops to a bloody Mary, or mix into a vinaigrette. And, even with Carolina reaper, it’s not over-the-top with heat.

$9 per 5-ounce bottle. Available at Whole Foods Market, Fresh Market, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, the General Store at Serenbe, Midtown Butcher Shop, Oakhurst Market, Star Provisions and Westview Corner Market. redclayhotsauce.com.

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Lovestuff five pepper sauce from Ground-Up Flavor Co. Courtesy of Lee Rodgers

Credit: Lee Rodgers

Credit: Lee Rodgers

Lovestuff five pepper sauce from Ground-Up Flavor Co.

Decatur-based Ground-Up Flavor Co. is the brainchild of Maurice Tyms, who knows hot sauce can be as much about flavor as it is about heat. He set out to create a recipe that would prove that to the rest of us. We tried Lovestuff, his hot sauce made with five different peppers. It’s fragrant with ginger and juniper, among other ingredients. It reminded us of a really delicious salsa, with its mix of flavors and almost chunky consistency. And, it’s just as versatile as salsa; we absolutely can see this as a marinade, maybe mixed with a little sunflower seed oil, or just shaken over any protein off the grill. Seasonally, the company produces Hot Mess, a red pepper sauce that’s a mix of ripe red chilis, garlic and Georgia wine. We can’t wait to try it when it’s back in production.

Lovestuff is $6 per 5-ounce bottle. When available, Hot Mess is $10 per 5-ounce bottle. Available at groundupflavor.com.

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Gourmet hot sauce from Stomp and Holler. Courtesy of Stomp and Holler

Credit: Courtesy of Stomp and Holler

Credit: Courtesy of Stomp and Holler

Gourmet hot sauce from Stomp and Holler

Matt and Tiffany Rogers of Chattanooga make five different hot sauces under their Stomp and Holler label. What we really appreciated was that every bottle comes labeled with the approximate Scoville heat units. Everyone can pick the heat level that suits their palate. We started with the jalapeno hot sauce, which has a mild 1,000 Scoville heat units, and a nice smoky kick. You could consume that by the spoonful. The habanero clocks in at 7,000 Scoville heat units, so it’s hotter and richer, but still with a hint of smoke. It didn’t take more than a drop of the Barn Burner to know that, despite its enticing aroma, its 150,000 Scoville heat units put it squarely in the category for those who want a serious kick from their sauce. A hot sauce for every palate? Stomp and Holler has you covered.

Prices range from $7.95 per 5-ounce bottle of gourmet jalapeno hot sauce to $14.95 per 5-ounce bottle of Barn Burner. Available at stompandhollersauce.com.

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