Southerners know something as simple as a sauce can transform a meal. Of course, store shelves have an abundance of sauces available, but nothing beats homemade. Sauces can be made ahead of time and kept refrigerated for extended periods, so they’re always available when needed.

For Tim and Stacey Nestor of Montgomery County, one incredibly simple sauce brings back countless memories of family time on the farm, in the kitchen and around the table.

“It all started with my dad’s little family garden,” Tim said. “One year, he had a little extra space, and I asked if he would plant me some peppers because I wanted to try and make my own pepper sauce.”

Tim’s dad planted a few varieties of peppers — tabasco, jalapeno and cayenne. 

Tim involved the couple’s young daughters, Emily and Melissa, now 25 and 21, in the pepper sauce project.

“I’d pick the peppers, of course, but they were right there with me, and we’d talk about it and make the sauce together every year,” Tim said. “After it became a tradition, the girls were always looking for interesting or unusual bottles to put our pepper sauce in. They loved putting Dad’s pepper sauce on everything.”

The Nestors help run Stacey’s family’s cattle and hay farm and are Montgomery County Farmers Federation board members. They don’t have time to cook complicated, gourmet meals, but Stacey says homemade sauces like their pepper sauce take simple, straightforward cooking to the next level. 

“We stay very busy,” Stacey said. “So when we cook, we don’t ever make anything difficult. That’s what’s so great about this pepper sauce — it is so easy and simple, but it’s so good.”

Other popular sauces are favorites for barbecue lovers.

Whether it’s chicken or pork, white barbecue sauce made by Juanita Haynes in Cullman County adds extra flavor that’s a favorite.

Jeremy Brown of Montgomery County perfected a more traditional barbecue sauce when he began cooking for crowds at fundraisers near the Ramer community. It’s hard to say which is the most popular -— the sauce he makes or the Boston butts that cook for hours.

Either way, sauces are a sure way to spice up any meal and, in some cases, conjure up delicious family memories.