One of the presents I got on my 40th birthday was a make-your-own hot sauce kit. My family knows me well—I slather the stuff on just about everything I eat. My go-to hot sauce is Frank’s Red Hot, but I also have an extensive collection of other good stuff. Up to this point, I had no idea what went into making hot sauce. It ends up that it’s pretty darn easy.

The kit came with just about everything I needed, save for a handful of fresh ingredients. I took a trip to my favorite store, Wegman’s, and picked up fresh tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, onions, and limes.

I was presented with 3 kinds of peppers: arbol (the hottest of the 3), chipotle (medium hot), and guajillo (least hot). I like my hot sauce really hot, so I used the whole bag of arbols. I also threw in a few of the chipotle peppers because I love the smoky flavor. I thew the peppers in the blender, added about a cup of hot water, and let it soak. Then I added half a tomato that I pureed, along with a few cloves of garlic, a completely arbitrary amount of cilantro, and about half a cup of diced onion.

I blended it all together until it was nice and smooth. I added a teaspoon each of ancho powder and chile new mexico powder (both included in the kit). The directions recommended adding some brown sugar, but I try to avoid any sugar as much as possible. The last ingredients 4 ounces of apple cider vinegar, and fresh lime juice.

I gave ‘er a good old stir, then took a taste. I had no idea how this was going to come out.

It was delicious! And the burn stayed with me for a while. Perfect!

The kit came with little hot sauce bottles, but I got lazy. I had a mason jar with a funky kind of lid on it, which ended up being the perfect size for the recipe. The directions say I have to refrigerate at least 12 hours, but should let it age for 2 weeks. There’s no way I have the patience to wait 2 weeks, so 12 hours it is.

If you’re a hot sauce fanatic, you should try this out. Even if you don’t cook. Believe me, I’m no culinary whiz, and this was pretty easy. You really should pick one of these up.

Turns out there are tons of hot sauce recipes online. All I have to do is find a good place to score hot peppers, and I’m in business. Maybe I’ll start my own line.