Did you ever make a magic potion as a kid? Put some vinegar and baking soda together? Maybe some herbs from the pantry? Birthday Party concoctions with food coloring and glitter?
Or how about a stink bomb? Hanging out in the woods with your friends or up in your tree house or secret fort? First add some grass, then a little dirt, a couple of those nasty pincher bugs, a slug, and some weeds? Shake all that in a jar with some muddy water and a rotten egg, some hair from your neighbor’s dog, some burnt matches, and Mr Clean’s ammonia cleaner? We did that once, opened it up, leaned it against the front door of a neighbors house, then ding dong ditched (rang the doorbell and ran). What a bunch a asshole kids we were.
As a kid, your imagination is running wild, you do not want to just make lemonade. You want to make something unique and special. Making your own hot sauce has that same magic to it, but now you are grown up and ‘fertig’ with the funny stuff. You want to make some bad ass hot sauce right? Well it is easy to do and to top it off, by fermentation, you are doing it the good old fashion natural way. How cool to pick your own selection of peppers and then make a magic potion!
What is Fermentation?
Fermentation is one our oldest methods of food preservation. People have preserved foods this way for generations, from wine to cheese to many, many vegetables, including peppers. People also learned how to make beer! Louis Pasteur and many of his amis were fascinated by the fermentation process and whether actual organisms were involved or not. Louis was the dude who proved it.
Fermentation is the decomposition of foods by micro-organisms (Lactic Acid Bacteria) or enzymes. We create an anaerobic (no oxygen) environment for the peppers so that good, beneficial bacteria can survive, and bad bacteria cannot survive. The good bacteria is natural Lactic acid bacteria, which consumes carbohydrates in the peppers and converts them to acid. After fermenting, the carbohydrates have been predigested, leaving them with more vitamins and flavor than fresh peppers.
Bad bacteria, such as rotting molds, cannot survive in this oxygen-free environment. We create such an environment with salt and brine, which protect the peppers while the good bacteria do their work. The salt is not actually the preservative. It is the acid produced by the fermentation process that does the preserving.
There are many benefits to fermented foods, including foods that are more digestible and have more developed flavor. When fermenting peppers, the flavors mellow, and peppers change color a bit, and develop a pleasant smell.
Homemade Hot Sauce – Fermented
How to make fermented Hot Sauce
Papa's Magic Potion
Wash the peppers and remove the stems. Depending on how hot you want it, you have to decide if you want to split the peppers and remove the seeds. This also depends on what type of peppers you selected. I like a not so spicy mixture with just enough heat to give you a burst of fire in every bite but only a small little burst. A little bit of sweetness goes great too! I tend to use a mixture of Jalapenos, Pepperoncini, and sweet peppers. I only remove the seeds from the Jalapenos to avoid it getting too spicy.
Once you have got your peppers ready, place them in a large jar. Certainly one that seals tight.
Chop the garlics in halve and add them to the jar.
Whisk the salt into the warm water until it dissolves. Pour the brine over the chili peppers and garlic.
It is important that the peppers remain submerged. They tend to rise so you will need to put some sort of weight on them. I use a plastic weight that comes with the jars I use. But I have been told a good method is to use a plastic bag full of water. Make sure it is clean! You do not want anything to negatively impact the fermentation process.
Let them ferment for at least 2 weeks preferably a bit longer. I ferment for one month. The temperature of the room should be between 13 and 22 degrees Celsius. The most fermentation takes place in the first two weeks. You will see the brine getting cloudy. You should monitor it by opening it up once a week to let out some of the gas. Does it have the sweet acid smell? If it smells good, tastes acidic with a slight sour taste, your fermentation is working perfectly! Mmm or if there is mold or a stinky smell, then you screwed up. Your fermentation environment wasn't oxygen free and/or some of the peppers were floating above the brine. If there is some mold in the brine, that is bad. If there is mold above the brine, then it is probably ok to just remove in my opinion, but not all agree with that. It may also be a yeast called kahm yeast. Find out more here. But if it stinks, you screwed up, and its done with.
Now it is time to make the sauce. First strain the brine and reserve it. Transfer the fermented chilis to a food processor or blender. Add one cup of the brine and let it whirl until smooth. Check the consistency and add more brine to make the sauce the consistency you are looking for.
Place in Jars. They will keep in a refrigerator for a year. If you do it this way, the fermentation process actually continues a bit and you also keep the good bacteria in your sauce. The sauce is rich in enzymes and beneficial bacteria,
If on the other hand you want to store non refrigerated, you have to heat it up and stop the fermentation process completely. You should also add vinegar to help preserve.