- watch how to make fermented hot sauce! | 30-second video
- Why I prefer fermenting over canning:
- How to make Fermented Hot Sauce:
- Salt Ratio for Fermentation:
- Why is the Brine Cloudy?
- A little Warning:
- But my hot sauce is way too hot!
- Types of chilies to use:
- Helpful tools:
- More Fermentation recipes you may like:
Learn how to make a fermented hot sauce – a simple way to enhance and preserve your abundance of garden chilies to use throughout the winter. Full of healthy probiotics, this easy recipe has many health benefits. Plus it just tastes good! Video!
Reading: how to age peppers for hot sauce
For many of you with gardens out there, this is the season of harvesting. Here’s a simple way to use all those chilies you’ve got growing out back and turn them into something that will bring you a little kiss of sunshine during the cold months – Fermented Hot Sauce! Now before you feel intimidated – know that this only takes 20 minutes of actual hands-on time and no special equipment. It’s ridiculously easy!
watch how to make fermented hot sauce! | 30-second video
Mother nature will literally do all the work for you! And after 5-7 days you will end up with the most delicious, alive hot sauce that will get better and better with age!
Why I prefer fermenting over canning:
Fermentation creates ALIVE food- but must be refrigerated (whereas canning is shelf-stable).
Fermented foods are incredibly rich in probiotics. These good bacteria are living creatures that work with our microbiome to improve digestion, boost immunity and help us maintain a healthy weight.
I prefer fermentation over “canning” because canning kills all the healthy bacteria and also halts the development of flavor. Fermentation keeps these healthy bacteria alive, and as a result, the fermented food actually tastes better and better with time!
Because fermented things are stored in the fridge (after making) they will remain healthy and active, continuing to ferment at a very slow rate.
Our bodies love foods packed with healthy probiotics—good bacteria—another way to boost our gut health.
How to make Fermented Hot Sauce:
Step one: Fill a 2-quart jar with any type of fresh hot chili, onions, garlic and thinly sliced carrot. You can use bell peppers to temper the hot chilis if you want a milder version. Just stick with the same color palette so your fermented hot sauce stays colorful and vibrant.
In this recipe, I used Padrone Peppers, a Spanish variety that had turned red, which I found at our farmer’s market. But feel free to use any kind you want or a blend. You’ll need about 1 pound in total. (You can easily halve this recipe)
Step two: Make a saltwater brine, using 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, per cup of warm water.
Salt Ratio for Fermentation:
Having the right proportion of salt to water is important. Not enough salt may allow unhealthy bacteria to grow. Too much salt will kill all the bacteria and the chilies won’t ferment. If you need to add more water to the jar, then add salt accordingly.
Use 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt per 1 cup of water.
Here I used 5 cups of water, so I added 1 1/4 teaspoon salt x 5 cups water = roughly 6 1/4 teaspoons of fine ground sea salt. Heating the water slightly helps the salt dissolve.
Step Three: Combine! Pour the saltwater brine over the chilies and push them down so they are completely submerged under the brine.
Step Four: Weigh down the chilies. You can use a fermentation weight, like this version that I really like, that will fit perfectly into a mason jar, to keep everything submerged.
Or in a pinch, a zip lock bag filled with water can be used as a weight, just place this over top.
The water in the bag will be work as the fermentation weight here.
Here you can see I’m working on a mild green hot sauce which is in the fermenting phase still.
Step Five: Place a lid on top-leaving it loose. You want the fermentation gasses to be able to escape while keeping creatures (bugs, flies) out. A couple of layers of cheesecloth also works here.
Step Six: Place the jar in a bowl or pan to catch any liquid that may spill over, and place it in a cool dark place, like a basement. If you don’t have a basement, or dark cool place, a lower cupboard in the kitchen is an option.
Check after 3-5 days. After a few days, the brine will turn slightly cloudy, and when you tap the jar, you should see little bubbles float to the surface, signs of life! Feel free to ferment longer. I usually go 7 days, long enough to soften those carrots!
Why is the Brine Cloudy?
A cloudy brine is a natural by-product of the fermentation process-a combination of lactic acid and yeast and is the reason why they call it Lacto-fermentation.
Various strains of bacteria are present on the surface of all plants, especially ones growing close to the ground. Lactobacillus bacteria convert sugar into lactic acid, preserving the peppers.
Lactic acid prevents the growth of harmful bacteria. Over time the cloudiness can settle out of the brine to the bottom of the jar. Some batches are naturally cloudier than others, but all are safe to consume.
Read more: how much pasta sauce to use | Family Cuisine
A cloudy brine is a sign that you have a safe, successful, and tasty ferment.
Step 7: Blend! Strain the brine, saving it. Add the strained chilies/carrots/garlic to the blender with one cup of brine and blend until smooth. At this point, you can add herbs,(oregano or cilantro is nice here) spices (cumin, coriander, chipotle). Add a little splash of Braggs apple cider vinegar if you like (this is optional, but also full of healthy bacteria) and more brine to desired consistency.
If you like the idea Sriracha, you could also make it sweet by adding sugar or honey, and perhaps ginger. You could also add herbs.
Step 8: Store! For everyday use store the fermented hot sauce in squeeze bottles- leaving the tip open in the fridge. The hot sauce will continue to ferment in the fridge, and the open tip will allow the gasses out. Before using, cover the tip with your finger and give it a shake.
A little Warning:
If you place the fermented hot sauce in tightly sealed bottles, unrefrigerated, they will EXPLODE! This is because the hot sauce is still fermenting and will continue to do so, creating bubbles. Remember it is alive and this is NOT canning.
*If giving as a gift, yes feel free to use a “cute bottle” but with instructions to refrigerate and loosen the lid.
But my hot sauce is way too hot!
Don’t be too alarmed if your hot sauce tastes overly hot when you first go to store it. A week or two in the fridge and the gradual slow fermenting will mellow out the heat substantially! It’s actually quite surprising. Many a time I’ve made a hot sauce and tried it thinking there is no way we would be able to eat it because of the heat level. But after a week or two it really does calm down the heat. Fermenting the hot sauce gives it another layer of flavor, adding more and more complexity. This will keep indefinitely in the fridge.
Types of chilies to use:
Use any fresh chili pepper you like or a blend of different peppers (in the same color palate). To temper, the heat, feel free to add a similarly colored bell pepper ( red, yellow or green bell pepper). For example- add a golden bell pepper to habaneros to temper the heat. Or a green bellpeper to serano chilies.
Keep in mind, you will be blending the sauce, so stick with the same color palate to make a vibrant colored sauce. For example, mixing red and green peppers will yeild a brown hot sauce- not the prettiest, but up to you. 😉
Also, keep in mind, fermentation will mellow out the heat of the peppers over time.
I am hearing that frozen peppers can be fermented ( please read the comments) , but have not personally tried this.
Currently experimenting with fermenting dried chilies- will report back soon!
- Fermentation Kit
- Fermentation weights
- 2 quart mason jar
- squeeze bottles
Making Fermented Hot sauce is a fun little project that only takes about 20 minutes of hands-on time. A lovely way to use up all the chilis in your garden (or a way to try out all the beautiful varieties at the farmers market) and a healthy way to bring more healthy probiotics into your life!
More Fermentation recipes you may like:
- How to Make Kimchi! A Quick Easy Authentic Kimchi Recipe
- Simple Cultured Cabbage (Sauerkraut)
- Beet and Cabbage Sauerkraut
- Curtido & Cultured Salvadoran Slaw
- How to make Fermented Pickles!