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.
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.
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.
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.
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;
- hot banana peppers
- Hungarian wax peppers
Ingredients you need
- a mixture of hot peppers
- Wash peppers. Remove stems. Place in food processor or blender container.
- Finely grind.
- Place in large bowl.
- Add salt. About 3 tablespoons per quart of peppers. Mix very well.
- Pack peppers and salt into a quart or a half gallon mason jar. Pushing down to remove air pockets.
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.
That is how easy it is to ferment your own peppers so that you can make your own hot sauce!
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I hope you enjoyed the recipe today!
Enjoy. And have fun cooking!
Fermenting Hot Peppers
- 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.
- 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.