Fermented Hot Sauce

Welcome to our new blog! We will share recipes for different ferments here, as well as recipes for cooking with fermented foods. 

Fermented hot sauce is addictive -- spicy, salty and sour in all the right amounts, and much more complex than commercial, vinegar-based hot sauces. It's also super easy to make. The hardest part is being patient. We've tried fermentation periods as short as two weeks and as long as six weeks. Two weeks was definitely too little time, producing subpar flavors with little of the complexity we got from longer ferments. Anything over a month has produced good sauce, in our experience. We keep intending to try a 2-month-plus ferment. And we keep failing due to lack of patience. So this time, I'm starting two batches at once, with two different types of New Mexican peppers -- chile pequin and Dixon heirlooms -- and I will let one go longer.   

 Heirloom peppers from Dixon, N.M., in foreground. Chile pequin and a Mudslide crock in background.

Heirloom peppers from Dixon, N.M., in foreground. Chile pequin and a Mudslide crock in background.

We make our hot sauce similar to a Chinese garlic-chili sauce, pureeing it in the food processor but leaving it fairly thick. We use it in Asian dishes, soups and stews, roasts, and on tacos, nachos and all other things Latin. You can also prepare it more like a Tabasco, straining it after processing and perhaps adding vinegar to taste, so it's thin and easy to splash on food.

Special holiday tip: We've given pint-sized Mason jars of hot sauce away as Christmas presents in the past. Start soon, and you'll have delicious sauce by the end of next month! 

Ingredients

1 lb organic hot peppers (The internet and our experience agree that conventional peppers have a tendency to not ferment.)

1 head garlic

1/2 red onion

2.5 TB salt, dissolved in 4 cups room temperature water

1. Wash and destem peppers. Toss in crock. 

2. Crush garlic cloves with a knife, peel, toss in crock. 

3. Slice onion. Toss in crock. 

4. Pour brine over veggies and use your hand to compact them so they become fully submerged in the brine. Cover with ceramic weights. 

5. Fill the moat of your crock with water, about half way. Cover with lid. Check the moat every couple of days, and refill with water as it evaporates. 

6. After 4 to 8 weeks, strain brine into a bowl. Process veggies in a food processor with brine to desired taste and consistency. We typically do not add vinegar, but we have had fermented hot sauces finished with vinegar that are delicious. Add to taste, if you like.

Note: With time, the brine will become cloudy with yeast. This is part of the fermentation process and is nothing to worry about! 

 The crocks currently on our counter, holding fermenting giardiniera, hot sauce, and flour, which we hope is not fermenting.

The crocks currently on our counter, holding fermenting giardiniera, hot sauce, and flour, which we hope is not fermenting.