Fermented Hot Sauce

If you like spicy foods and have never tried fermented hot sauce, it’s time to make a batch. It simple and produces such amazing flavors. I took a bottle into work and several co-workers asked how to make it. I planned to do it at work, but kept getting distracted with… well work. So, this is to show them, and anyone else interested, how to make it.

Grab 1-3 pounds of peppers. For this batch, I used all the peppers we grew in our garden this year, plus some smoked hatch chiles that were hotter than my co-worker had expected (thank Della). Cut off the stems and cut the larger one into smaller chunks (not really needed, but in my mind, it helps). Then throw them in a mason jar.

After you have a good layer on the bottom, throw in a few cloves of garlic. I lightly crush it, but you don’t have to do much. Keep adding peppers and garlic until you run out of peppers. The exact ratio isn’t too important, but I usually aim for about 10:1 peppers to garlic by weight.

Once all the peppers and garlic are ready, you need to get the total weight. I tare the scale with an identical mason jar then weight the full mason jar. Next you need to add 2% of the total of the peppers and garlic. This is the only critical step where you need to be exact. The wrong amount of salt can encourage the “wrong” microbes to grow which could mess with the flavor or make it unsafe to eat so double check.

Pour the salt into the mason jar with the peppers and garlic, then gently mash the mixture to release juices. Keep mashing until the liquid covers the peppers. If you can’t get enough liquid to cover the peppers, you can add a little water with 3% salt by weight mixed in (3g of salt mixed into 100g water, until it’s dissolved). These peppers had plenty of liquid so I didn’t need to add any brine. I added just over 14g of salt to 721g peppers/garlic.

This mixture needs to ferment for 1-3 weeks. During that time, you want to keep the peppers below the surface. You could fill a zip-lock bag with brine to weigh them down, but there is a much better option. These lids and springs make fermenting much easier.

The spring keeps everything below the surface and the vent on the lid allows CO2 to escape without building up pressure.

After a week, you can check it. It should smell spicy with sour notes, like kimchi. There shouldn’t be any fuzzy growth, but you might see small, matte white areas. As long as it’s not fuzzy, it’s probably kahm yeast which can be removed but doesn’t ruin the hot sauce. Once it’s sour enough (I usually ferment mine for about 10 days), it’s time to blend the peppers and all their liquid. You can strain it or leave it a little chunky. Either way, it’s ready to add to your dish. Enjoy!

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