I make homemade cayenne pepper sauce every year. I do add some liquid pectin to slightly thicken it so it will stick to food rather than roll off. After a month or so on the shelf it seems to separate a bit. What can I add to this so that it won't or is there a method I can do to stop this. We are slowly working our way into marketing this product down the line and this won't work for that reason. We are using a water bath canning method, vinegar based, no sugar added.

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    You haven't given us the recipe. But presumably its ingredients of different densities separating back out, e.g., like how oil and water do.
    – derobert
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 22:24
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    Separate in a way that shaking doesn't remedy? I don't think most people have issues shaking something that has obviously separated... but if shaking doesn't fix the separation, that's more of an issue.
    – Catija
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 22:26
  • You have to shake most commercial sauces that liquidy (e.g. tabasco) rather than pasty (e.g. sriracha) anyway.
    – Batman
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 4:08
  • @Catija shaking does fix it for several days. Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 13:49
  • @Batman I've got a bottle of "Franks Red Hot" that sits in the fridge for over 2 years now and still hasn't separated. It can be done. Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 13:50

3 Answers 3


5 gram per gallon (0.0125 percent) Xanthan gum inhibits separation in my pepper sauce. You see that as an ingredient in lots of hot sauces. It's a bit of a pain to mix in thoroughly, but there are plenty of other emulsifiers available. Last couple years it seems there might be a bit of consumer backlash growing against some of them, so choose carefully. You wouldn't want the next "gluten" in your product.


It's normal for some separation to occur, especially based on the makeup/composition of the sauce is.

  1. If it's a regular long-cooked vinegar and water hot sauce, then there would be very little separation that would occur.
  2. If it's a vinegar and oil based hot sauce, then there would be quite a lot of separation.
  3. If it's a vinegar based hot sauce, but made with peppers that are very oily (habanero, hungarians, etc) and it was not made in a long-cook format, then there would be a slight separation if left unshaken for a few days.

Remember that most hot sauces are vinegar based, with either water, juice or oil as an accompaniment, so some separation is expected, and is typically not indicative of a hot sauce gone bad.

As an example, back when I was still producing hot sauces, I had two long-cooked hot sauces (each about 4 hour simmer). One was an apple-juice and vinegar based sauce with jalapenos and lots of spices (more of a flavorful sauce than an extremely spicy sauce). The other was a vinegar and olive oil based sauce with bhut jolokia and habanero peppers. The juice and vinegar sauce suffered from nearly no separation whatsoever, as the peppers and spices were extremely well incorporated into the liquids by the long simmer time AND all the solids being ground and liquified as much as possible. The vinegar+water and oil based sauce suffered from quite a lot of separation, as the ingredients were not only not liquified, but the base by their nature tended to separate.


That's just what happens with emulsions, like Italian dressing on the supermarket shelf. You can use stabilizers like xantham gum, which can help, but is shaking the bottle before use really that big of a deal?

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    I use 5 gram per gallon (0.0125 percent) Xanthan gum to thicken and keep my hot sauce from separating. You have to stir rapidly, as with a food processor or hand homogenizer while adding the stuff, or it gets all lumpy and awful. Commented Jun 28, 2018 at 0:09

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