Eat, Drink And Be indie: Tasty Recipes, Inspiring Maker Stories & Exclusives

Love Hard

Some people love hot sauce and some people love hot sauce hard.

Jolene (Jojo) Collins used to put sriracha on everything. Then around 2010, when she started paying closer attention to what she put in her body, she realized how much sugar and how many preservatives came with each squirt of the classic Thai condiment. It was a deal breaker – time for the red rooster to fly the coop. Unwilling to live a bland, Sriracha-less life, the then 26-year-old knew what she had to do. She would make her own refined sugar- and preservative-free version.

Turned out that living in Denver, Colorado, where amazing chiles grow on trees (well, plants), was just the place to be. Jojo began picking pecks of peppers (we couldn’t resist), grinding them whole and then fermenting for several days with judicious amounts of garlic, sea salt and coconut palm sugar. This is where the magic happened. Even after adding vinegar to the fermentations and then puréeing and heating the mixture, Jojo discovered that each batch brought its own thing to the party. Now each hand-poured, hand-labeled jar gets stamped with its unique batch number and no two jars taste exactly alike. Nor do all jars of Jojo’s Sriracha look alike. The prevalence of the area’s amazing green chiles inspired a sauce of a different color and now the sugary red stuff is green with envy.

When the heat is on, Jojo’s small but mighty team of two (sometimes three) wear bandanas over their faces, bandito-style. It’s fittingly fiery work for someone as passionate as Jojo whose company motto (edited for a family-friendly website) is, “Love hard and give a f*#$.”

This girl is on fire.