Lined up in sunset hues, and in flavor profiles from sweet to spicy, Splat Hot Sauce is making its own splash in the culinary world. Through the process of fermentation, red serrano, jalapeno and golden cayenne peppers are combined with garlic and a salt brine to create a hot sauce that is more than just a condiment. And for Courtney Jafferian, the owner, the roots of Splat Hot Sauce are as organic as the peppers used in each jar of sauce.
At the outset, Splat Hot Sauce wasn’t intended to be a real-world venture. While studying business at The Evergreen State College, Jafferian was assigned a project that would simulate the steps required to start a small business. For this project, Jafferian created the initial blueprint that would eventually become Splat Hot Sauce. Jafferian has since expanded the project beyond the classroom, growing Splat Hot Sauce into a business that uses thousands of pounds of peppers annually.
“Evergreen created a whole platform for us to go through the motions of starting a business,” says Jafferian. “And so, from that I kind of just decided, well, why wouldn’t I? At the time I was actually working with my friend Pat Jansen. And so, he helped and the combination of having the school platform, and my friend, helped really catalyzed Splat. From there, it was just kind of like learn by doing. And you learn a lot that way. So in like a year’s time, it went from doing small batches and then taking it to huge fermenters. And then, doubling it in two years’ time, from about 1,000 pounds of peppers to almost 2,000 pounds right now.”
Prior to launching Splat Hot Sauce in 2019, Jafferian held a lifelong dream of starting her own business. And through Splat Hot Sauce, Jafferian has been able to combine her education, professional experience and personal interests to create a one-of-a-kind hot sauce.
“I always knew I wanted to have my own business,” explain Jafferian. “And I love food. I love spice and I love heat. My family hates me for that because I always put too much cayenne in food. And I’ve always had an affinity for nutrition. I have a little bit of a background there and so the combination of all of that and then being at Evergreen and having that kind of platform helped. Everything just kind of organically came together. And then working at a brewery I learned much about fermentation, and I have been fermenting for at least the last six years. All of the dots connected.”
For a fresh take on hot sauce, Jafferian produces each batch of Splat Hot Sauce through fermentation. For many hot sauces, a combination of vinegar and heat is used to preserve each jar of sauce. Through the fermentation process, though, the Splat recipe remains simple and allows for an enhanced flavor profile for each pepper variety. The fermentation process also produces a hot sauce that is rich in probiotics.
“With fermentation, it’s kind of unique where we don’t have to cook it,” explains Jafferian. “It’s all raw, but it’s all alive. Adding a salt brine to just peppers and garlic to help accentuate the pepper flavor. Basically, we take all of them, and then we add a salt brine and then the brine helps the microbes that kind of lower the pre-pH, which makes it probiotic and all that good stuff.”
Intended for a wide range of palates and heat tolerance, Splat Hot Sauce incorporates local ingredients and a rainbow of pepper varieties, including habanero, red jalapeno and red serrano. For a more mellow experience, the Anaheim & Jalapeño mild sauce features ingredients from the Newaukum Valley Farm in Chehalis. Reminiscent of a tomato or sriracha variety, the Red Serrano medium sauce pairs with a wide range of meals, including Southeast Asian and Mexican dishes. For those who love a more high-intensity sauce, the Purple Thai Bird hot sauce is ready to accompany any meal.
“The idea was to make it approachable for everyone,” says Jafferian. “And so, we have everything from like mild to wild. When I say wild, I mean super-hot. Coming from somebody who loves hot sauce, that says a lot. And then we do a salsa matcha. It’s an oil-based sauce and it’s not fermented, but it uses a couple different types of dried peppers and garlic and peanuts. And then we also have pepper flakes, which come from the hot sauce. And then, if there’s leftover brine, we have chili pepper brine, too.”
As Splat Hot Sauce continues to grow as a business, Jafferian hopes to produce sauces that are both pleasing to the palate and kind to the planet. Currently in development is a new line of products for Splat Hot Sauce, including a fermented bloody mary mix and pepper mustard. In addition, Jafferian plans to host fermentation classes, so that interested community members can learn more about the fermentation process.
Aiming to be a zero-waste company, Splat Hot Sauce sources ingredients that are both organic and grown by local farmers. In the future, Jafferian intends Splat Hot Sauce to become officially certified as organic, and as a Certified B Corporation, valuing the environment, employees and customers in addition to profit.
To learn more about Splat Hot Sauce, the products available and retail locations, visit the Splat Hot Sauce website.