Brian Ruhlmann sources ghost peppers and habaneros from local growers for hot sauces he bottles under the name Craic Sauce (pronounced “crack,” it’s an Irish word that means fun or good times). The chilies, which you expect to come from Mexico or the southern United States, can grow surprisingly well in New England. Ruhlmann first started fiddling with creating the condiment a half-dozen years ago while living in Ireland. Now, he produces his small-batch line at a commercial kitchen in Lowell. With various levels of creeping heat, the flavors of Ruhlmann’s four sauces stand out foremost. One choice, 40 Grades Of Green Chili, a medley of green chilies, tomatillos, peaches, carrots, ginger, and citrus, delivers a mild tingle. The slightly stinging Mill City Red (named for Lowell) is scarlet from red chili peppers and fruity from local golden and Chioggia beets and brown sugar. A fermentation process gives it extra zing. The earthy Golden Pumpkin, a fusion of roasted pumpkin, citrus, and pineapple juice, is made with both habanero and ghost peppers — its sweet undertone is offset by a fiery heat that comes on slowly. A fourth, Brian Boru’s Curry (named for the Irish king), stands out with layers of flavors from Sungold tomatoes, lemongrass, and turmeric. Hungarian wax and scotch bonnet peppers give this one the most long, searing heat (each, about $8.50 for 5 ounces). “I don’t try to torture people,” says Ruhlmann referring to his hot sauces. “My ultimate focus is flavor to complement food.” Available to buy at The Black Rose, 160 State St., Boston, 857-465-4100; Cambridge Naturals, 23 White St., Cambridge, 617- 492-4452; Nan’s Rustic Kitchen+ Market, 271 Great Road, Stow; 978-616-4100; Debra’s Natural Gourmet, 98 Comm. Ave., West Concord, 978-371-7573, and others, or go to craicsauce.com.
ANN TRIEGER KURLAND
Ann Trieger Kurland can be reached at email@example.com.