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Fermenting Peppers

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Fermenting peppers is not a difficult process! It is quite easy, but patience is required! Fermenting peppers is an essential step in making hot sauce.

Two jars of fermented peppers on tree slab.Pin
Fermented Peppers

Can you make hot sauce with fresh peppers? Yes, technically, you can! Is the hot sauce sooo much better when you ferment the peppers? Absolutely, it is! The fermentation process gives the hot sauce a more complex flavor. Check out my article for Fermented Hot Sauce.

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How Can You Use Fermented Peppers?

The best use for Fermented Peppers is making your own hot sauce at home! You won’t have to buy the stuff at the grocery store! Hot sauces were traditionally made with only three ingredients, pepper mash, salt and distilled vinegar. Other flavors can be used when making hot sauces though, garlic, onion, herbs, cilantro, cumin, and others can be used to the hot sauces different flavor profiles.

Jars of fermented peppers on wooden slab.Pin

Many of our favorite hot sauces, in the United States are still made with fermented peppers, including Sriracha and Tabasco. Fermenting the peppers gives the hot sauce a greater dimension of flavors!

History of Lacto-Fermenting

Fermenting peppers with a salt brine allows the peppers to ferment in their own juices. This intensifies the flavor of your finished product! This method has been employed, by humans for thousands of years!

Lacto fermentation was used to preserve vegetables that would otherwise spoil. These vegetables sustained families through barren months out the year.

Fermentation was traditionally done in large crocks, so that larger quantities of fresh produce could be preserved. This technique was used for kimchis, pickles and sauerkraut.

Jars of peppers that has become moldy.Pin

I include the above photo, so that you know, if the top has mold growing on on it, throw out that batch. It is not safe to eat! This one was contaminated because I over filled it with peppers and when I went to burp it the first week, they started to overflow, so, I had to scoop some of them out.

This mold is not the same as kahm yeast, which can form on the top when all of the natural sugars in the peppers have been used up. Kahm yeast is a thin, usually stringy layer which is white or cream colored and usually grows in a very thin layer. Molds can be black, pink, white or brown. They usually start in small spots and can grow quite thick.

I did not sterilize the spoon first. Learn from my mistakes!

What types of chilis to use

A pepper mash is made with a mixture different chilis. Many chili peppers will work well for fermenting, including;

  • jalapeno
  • serrano
  • hot banana peppers
  • Hungarian wax peppers
  • habanero

Ingredients you need

  • a mixture of hot peppers
  • salt

Fermenting Peppers

  1. Wash peppers. Remove stems. Place in food processor or blender container.
  2. Finely grind.
  3. Place in large bowl.
  4. Add salt. About 3 tablespoons per quart of peppers. Mix very well.
  5. Pack peppers and salt into a quart or a half gallon mason jar. Pushing down to remove air pockets.
Step by step photos of the process for fermenting peppers. See details in recipe below.Pin

The fermentation process takes at least one month. I left mine for 4 months. Technically, the peppers can ferment for years, in large vats, as Tabasco does. The longer the peppers ferment, the more intense the taste is and the more acidic it becomes, due to the effect of the good bacteria that are breaking them down.

Close up of peppers in jars.Pin

That is how easy it is to ferment your own peppers so that you can make your own hot sauce!

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Fermenting peppers in quart canning jars.Pin

Fermenting Hot Peppers

Fermenting peppers is not a difficult process! It is quite easy, but patience is required! Fermenting peppers is an essential step in making hot sauce.
See Step by Step Photos Above!Most of our recipes have step by step photos and videos! Also helpful tips so that you can make it perfectly the first time and every time! Scroll up to see them!
5 from 13 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: sauce
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 3 quarts
Calories: 10kcal
Author: Beth Neels
Cost: $2


  • hot peppers, any variety will work See post for more information
  • 3 Tbsp salt, per quart of peppers.


  • Remove stem from peppers.
  • Grind in food processor.
  • Mix 3 tablespoons salt per quart of peppers. Mix well. The salt will draw water out of the peppers and they will ferment in their own juices. Alternately, you can mix 1 quart of unchlorinated water with 3 tablespoons of sea salt, per quart.
  • Sterilize jars. Pack in jars with peppers, pushing down contents to remove air. Leave 2 inches headspace.
  • If using the brine method, cover peppers in jars with the water and salt mixture to cover. It is important the the peppers stay below the surface of the brine.
  • Ferment in cool place for 1 to 4 months, up to years. For the first 2-3 weeks, burp jars daily, thereafter burp once per week.
  • Use fermented peppers for making hot sauce.
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Make sure jars are sterilized before adding peppers!
For the first two weeks after adding peppers to jars, make sure that you release air daily!
Store peppers in a cool, dark place, like a basement.
How to know if peppers have gone bad?
  • Trust your nose. If they smell rotten or sour, the batch is bad. Discard.
  • If a pink or white fungus appears on top, the ferment has gone bad. Discard.


Calories: 10kcal | Sodium: 6976mg | Calcium: 4mg
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    1. I haven’t honestly used frozen. You could use habaneros but I’m not sure about freezing them first.

  1. Have you tried fermenting in fido jars? It eliminates the worry over mold because the environment inside the jar is anarobic.

  2. I tried this. Ended up with 11/2 jars after one month. serannos. One jar has fungus with cottony mycellia, the other jar has what I think is yeast.–not cottony. Questions
    1. If I boil the peppers awhhile are they safe to eat?
    2. What does burp mean?
    3. How does one release air?
    4. How can I prevent fungus?
    Many thanks,
    Martindale, Texas

    1. Hey Malcolm! The cottony jar, should be discarded. They are not safe to eat. Burp means releasing the air. To release the air, loosen the cap and lid, the air will release. Try to be careful not to contaminate the contents. Preventing the fungus is a matter of sterilizing jars and tools well. It could also be from the peppers themselves. Make sure to process only fresh peppers, with no visible signs of decay. I had a batch go bad this year too. It’s always good to make several jars, if you have enough peppers, so that you will end up with some good jars at the end. Sometimes it can’t be avoided. Good luck!

  3. 5 stars
    Easy and tastes great. I was wondering how you could tell it was mold and not the Kahm yeast that sometimes occurs if you don’t have enough head space? (you had mentioned you overfilled it) Thanks for the great info and making it easy to get into fermenting!

    1. It was actually growing like mold, so I knew it wasn’t Kahm yeast. Thanks for the comment, Valerie! I’m so glad you liked them! Are you going to make hot sauce with them?

  4. 5 stars
    I’ve pinned this and can’t wait until summer pepper growing season. I plan to ferment peppers using this recipe and then making your amazing looking hot pepper sauce! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks so much for the comment, Susan! I appreciate it! Shoot a few pics and share them with me, please?

  5. 5 stars
    I have never thought to ferment my peppers but what a great way to make a hot sauce! I’ll be planting Italian red chili peppers in my garden soon. I usually just dry them but def want to try fermenting some of them!

  6. 5 stars
    These look great, and both a great way to preserve some peppers as well as use as a base for sauce, as you suggest.

  7. 5 stars
    I so need to try this. I wish I had a garden, though I can just go to the store! This looks so delicious. I’m going to have to make this when I can get good peppers!! Great instructions Beth, I feel I could make it!

    1. Thank you Elaine! You could certainly buy organic peppers in the summer and make it! Then you could make your own hot sauce!

  8. 5 stars
    This is such a popular method in Hungary and is used all of the time, the best restaurants all serve fermented vegetables and I love them!

    1. I think it is just gaining a bit of popularity here in the US, of course decades ago, it was a very common practice! Thank you Brian!

  9. 5 stars
    I love that you included your batch gone wrong and pinpointed exactly how and where the mold came from. As someone who is still getting into fermenting, I really appreciate the lesson!

  10. 5 stars
    This is fascinating! I’ve never tried fermenting anything but hubby and I love hot sauces so I’m thinking I need to start with peppers!

  11. 5 stars
    Such an interesting post Beth, I never thought of fermenting peppers and had no idea about it, I just used to mak small batches of hot sauce for immediate consumption. On my way to the market to buy me some peppers, will try your recipe as soon as I get back home, YUM!

    1. The hot sauce is so much tastier with fermented peppers! Thanks so much for your comment Patty! Let me know how you make out!

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