A simple delicious recipe for Fermented Hot Sauce using fresh summer chilies, with no special equipment and only 20 minutes of hands on time!
Saltwater Brine: ( 1 1/4 teaspoon salt per 1 cup of warm water)
- 5 cups filtered water, lukewarm (see notes)
- 6 1/4 teaspoons finely ground sea salt (or Pink Himalayan salt) – use 1 1/4 teaspoon salt, per 1 cup of water.
2 Quart Mason Jar Fillings:
- 1 pound chili peppers, sliced in half (about 6–7 cups) seeds removed, see notes
- 1 carrot, very thinly sliced (do not peel)
- 4–6 garlic cloves, cut into quarters
- 1–2 shallots, sliced (or ½ an onion)
After fermenting, add optional seasonings to taste. Keep in mind the “heat” will mellow with age.
- optional: herbs (oregano, cilantro, celery leaves) and spices (cumin, coriander, chipotle powder, smoked paprika)
- 1–3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, (optional- for extra tang and for more healthy probiotics)
- honey or sugar to taste (optional, good if making Sriracha style)
- If your hot sauce is not hot enough, you can always add cayenne or ground chipotle to taste. Free free to add spices ( 1/2- 1 teaspoon) cumin, coriander, chipotle, allspice, etc. Make this your own.
- Heat the water and stir the sea salt into the warm water until dissolved. Let cool to lukewarm.
- Wearing gloves, slice the small hot peppers in half, and remove stems and seeds if you like (for less heat). I left the seeds in mine. If adding bell peppers to temper the heat, cut into thin strips. Thinly slice the carrot (do not peel), slice the shallots, and slice the garlic.
- Layer all into a 2-quart mason jar. Pour the saltwater brine into the jar over the chilies, pressing them down under the liquid. If you need to add more brine, remember to use the ratio of 1 1/4 teaspoon salt per 1 cup of water.
- Weight the chilies down with fermentation weights (or use a small ziplock bag filled with water, to weigh the veggies down). You want the veggies completely submerged under the brine. Cover loosely with a lid ( or cheesecloth and rubber band) and place the jar in a pan or bowl to collect any liquid that may bubble over. The lid is loose here so gasses can escape easily, but no creatures can get in.)
- Place in a cool dark place, like the basement, (or the bottom cupboard in the kitchen) for 5-7 days or until signs of fermentation.
- On day 5: Check for fermentation: Tap the container and see if any tiny bubbles rise to the surface, check for a cloudy brine ( see notes) or check the bowl underneath, to see if there was any overflow. All signs of activity. If you see signs, you can blend the sauce at this point or let if go a little longer (a good idea if using very hot peppers) up to you. And you can always ferment longer for even more flavor! The longer the ferment, typically the tangier this will become, and the more mellow the heat. If no signs of fermentation, give it a couple more days- then check troubleshooting in notes.
- After 5-7 days and signs of fermentation, strain and SAVE the brine. Place the fermented peppers, onions, garlic, and carrots into a blender. Add 1 cup of the brine and blend until smooth as possible. this may take a couple of minutes. Add the vinegar if using, (and honey if you prefer a sweeter hot sauce like Sriracha), and more brine to desired thickness. At this point, you can blend in optional spices and herbs. ( 1/2-1 teaspoon spices, 1-2 tablespoons fresh herbs).
- Don’t be alarmed if it is overly spicy- the heat level will significantly mellow with time, as it continues to ferment in the fridge after 1-2 weeks. Place in a squeeze bottle and store in the fridge, leaving the tip open (or loose) for gasses to escape.
- Do not place in a sealed jar unrefrigerated– this will result in an explosion– and a great big mess- as the hot sauce is still alive and fermenting! BE WARNED! I have the best luck with using in squeeze bottles and leaving the cap off in the fridge.
- If transporting to a friend as a gift, it is ok to seal for short periods of time (a few hours) but make sure to tell them to refrigerate it and loosen the lid, very soon after receiving.
- The flavors will continue to develop and get more complex over time, the heat mellowing.
- To use, cover the tip of the opening with your finger and give a shake before using.
- This will keep up to 12 months in the fridge (probably even longer!).
WATER: Regular tap water may contain too much chlorine in it, inhibiting the fermentation process (although our tap water works fine). If fermentation is not happening, you may want to try filtered water.
Peppers: Use any chili pepper you like or a blend of different peppers (in the same color palate). To temper, the heat, feel free to add similar colored bell pepper -substitute sweet red, yellow, or green bell pepper. Keep in mind, you will be blending the sauce, so stick with the same color scheme to make a vibrant colored sauce. For example, mixing red and green peppers will result in a brown hot sauce- but up to you. 😉 Also, keep in mind, the fermentation will mellow the heat a little. Removing the seeds will help temper the heat.
RATIO: If you need more water to cover or fill the jar, use 1 1/4 teaspoon salt per cup of warm water.
You could easily halve this recipe or use two, quart-sized jars.
CLOUDY BRINE: 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. It is a sign of 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 and taste delicious. A cloudy brine is a sign that you have a safe and successful ferment.
Signs of fermentation: liquid overflowing into the bowl (check the bowl to see if the jar overflowed, a good sign! Tiny bubbles rising to the top when you tap the jar. Cloudy brine.
Troubleshooting: If no signs of fermentation, double-check you measured salt ratio correctly. This is typically the most common problem (adding too much salt will halt the process). Try filtered water. Do not over-wash the peppers/carrots (for example, don’t use any type of produce soap) as the wild bacteria from the pepper skin, carrot peeling is what is starting the fermentation. I have the best luck with farmers’ market chili peppers and carrots because they are not over-cleaned or treated with anything.
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