There is a story behind how a handful of peppers became a small pepper garden growing some of the world's hottest peppers, the Carolina Reaper, Naga Viper, and Yellow Chaguanas. Plus some hot to mdoerate peppers such as Habanero, Cayenne, Yatsafusa, as well as Prik Chi Fa. And from that garden the Helena Pepper Co & Clark's Caribbean Seven Sauce was born.
In the fall of 2013 I was given a handful of Carolina Reaper peppers by a good friend. Extremely hot, it is a Guiness World Record holder, I knew I had to grow some.
Fast forward to spring of 2014. I ordered seed online as well as bought some Jalapeno and Habanero plants locally. I didn't see any peppers at all from my plants that I had started from seed until late fall. And then it wasn't very many. I had gotten a late start for the growing season, lesson learned. So as winter came I put up a greenhouse and moved the plants inside.
The spring of 2015 rolls around, and I now have a greenhouse that is busting at the seams. So I put the plants in the ground. The problem now is what to do with all of the peppers I'm going to harvest? Make sauce of course! And lots of it.
I got with my mom in late June that year and we tested an old Caribbean Chili Sauce recipe from the Chaguanas Borough of Trinidad and Tobago. She suggested the addition of some ingredients along with some adjustments to others, of which we did, and it changed the sauce completely. We would spend the next several weeks perfecting the recipe. The sauce making process itself would continue to evolve for months.
July 18th, 2015, I actually offered the sauce for sale in public for the first time at an outdoor market under my Alabama Dept of Agriculture Grower's permit. Who sells hot sauce on a weekend that saw a heat index of 109 degrees? This guy. When other vendors were not even covering their costs I actually left with a small profit. I knew then I had to be onto something. But I knew I wanted to do more than sell at Farmer's markets and I was in a very gray area of what I could and could not do under my grower's permit. The next step was production in a commercial kitchen, permitted by the local health dept, and registration with and eventual inspection by the FDA.
So by August, 2015, I was consulting with a commercial kitchen. And in September that year I was renting space and time in the same commercial kitchen, working with the health dept to get permitted, and collecting samples to send to Auburn University for testing. Since then the business has grown and by my 2nd yr business anniversary, July 2017, I offer 3 heat levels of the sauce and it's in retail locations all over the State of Alabama.
Clark's Caribbean Seven Sauce came about from using an old Caribbean Chili Sauce recipe from the Chaguanas Borough of Trinidad - Tobago.
It's been modified by adjusting the amounts of the ingredients used in it, adding a few ingredients to it, changing out what it used for heat, and actually toning the heat level down.
So why use some of the world's hottest peppers to make a sauce that is mild to my standards, medium to others? Because...
1) It takes very little to make the sauce, so your peppers go a long, long ways in providing the "heat" ingredient in whatever you're making
2) Because I love the flavor of some of the super hots out there and people ask me all the time, "What can you do with a pepper that is too hot to eat?" Well you can make a sauce with it for the masses that's not too hot to eat.
And using this mild version as the base, Clark's Caribbean Seven Sauce now comes in two hotter versions as well for those who want more, to a lot of heat with their meal.
The sauce doesn't fit in any particular category, even though it has heat, it's more than just a hot sauce. It works well on Chicken, Pork, and Beef, yet it's not a BBQ sauce. Oysters, Crab Claws, Calamari, Hushpuppies, not a problem, yet it's not a marinara sauce either. And forget the tartar sauce, this stuff is amazing on fish as well. It even mixes with other sauces and dips very well such as BBQ sauces, pasta dish sauces, and cheese dips.
The limit of it's uses are really left up only to your imagination and tastes.
The ingredients that make this sauce so amazing are as follows:
Distilled White Vinegar
Roasted Red Bell Pepper
And chili powder made from some of the world's hottest chili peppers (Carolina Reaper & Naga Vipers). But don't let that scare you. The heat is kept at a very tolerable level while the amazing taste leaves your taste buds screaming for more.
Why the name Clark's Caribbean Seven Sauce?
1st) The recipe itself is based on a Caribbean Chili sauce that has been changed to offer more of a sweet hot flavor versus a chili flavor while keeping its Caribbean roots. Caribbean super hots weren't called super hots but 7 pot peppers because they could heat up 7 pots of chili or stew. Even though I use a super hot that isn't from the Caribbean, it does have a fruity flavor that works well with the recipe and it is a descendant of the 7 pots and in the same scientific class of peppers as the 7 pots.
2nd) Label design - The rope that runs across the label started out as a piece of rope with a knot in it. When I had finished running it across the front of the label it ended up with 7 knots. The ship on the front of the label has 7 pieces of cloth in the form of 6 sails and a flag.
3rd) Label Design - The portion of the rear panel that contains the business name, kitchen address, permit number, and phone number, takes up 7 lines.
4th) Label design - The ingredients take up 7 lines.
5th) My first sale of the sauce to the local public at an event was in July, the 7th month of the year.
6th) My birthday is the 7th day of the 7 month. This sauce and the business is kind of a present to myself.
7th) The number seven is the number of completeness, or something that is finished. The base for the sauce itself is complete. Except for adding heat, the recipe will not change anymore. Yet the business itself is the beginning of something I hope evolves for years to come. Besides all of that there's seven days in a week, so that's at least seven opportunities to use this sauce. So there you have it, my name is Clark, my sauce is based on a Caribbean Recipe, and there's sevens all over it.
Helena Pepper Co:
Holds Business Licenses with the State of Alabama, Jefferson Co, & City of Hoover.
Permitted and inspected by the Jefferson Co Health Dept.
Registered with and inspected by the FDA.
Permitted by the Alabama Dept. of Agriculture.
Insured as a food processor & distributor.
Initial product testing and nutritional info value determination for Clark's Caribbean Seven Sauce was done at Auburn University.
Baked Beans, Black Eye Peas, Turnip Greens, etc...
Egg dishes such as Omelettes, even just plain scrambled.
Burritos, Tacos, Quesadillas, anything Mexican or Southwestern
Italian dishes & pasta
Steaks, Prime Rib, Beef Brisket, and Meatloaf
Casseroles and Vegetables
Mix it with your favorite Dips, Salad Dressings, and Bloody Mary Mixes
Baked, grilled, glazed, caramelized, fried, blackened, smoked, marinated, sauteed, steamed, just for dipping, as a side sauce, or topping off your favorite dish. Doesn't matter how you cook your food, there just isn't a wrong way to use this sauce.
Baked / Fried Rangoon
Food complimented or made with.......
Clark's Caribbean Seven Sauce
("Original" & "Extra Heat" versions)