One of the big advantages of fermentation is having an arsenal of ready-to-go, healthy, locally grown convenience foods.
This salsa is not too spicy—perfect for a family meal as there is only a hint of heat to add some excitement to the finished dish but not so much that children or non-heat eaters will feel a sting. (For more heat feel free to increase the jalapeños and reduce the green chiles and ancho peppers.)
Since fermentation is a traditional preservation technique you will be able to use this ferment well beyond the pepper harvest season.
This Green Chile Salsa is Rich in Vitamins and Capsaicin
This Fermented Green Chile Salsa uses the three most common peppers in Southwestern cooking—green chiles (also called Hatch, or Anaheim peppers), poblanos, and jalapeños. All of the peppers are harvested before they are fully ripe; these peppers are high in vitamin A (as a half cup is 30% of the daily recommended amount).
Ounce for ounce green chile peppers have more vitamin C than citrus, and the process of fermentation increases the amount and bioavailability of that C. The list of nutrients is long but the real reason to include green chiles in your diet is the compound capsaicin. This is what makes peppers spicy and as it turns out capsaicin is pretty good for us by increasing our metabolism and perhaps even preventing cancer.
Use the Right Equipment
When making fermented foods, it’s best to create an anaerobic environment, that is one in which oxygen can’t get into your fermentation vessel. An oxygen-deprived environment helps to prevent contamination of the ferment by stray microbes and mold.
Stoneware crocks like these make great fermentation vessels, and are worth the investment, but a less expensive option that’s good for beginners is mason jars coupled with an airlock like this which keeps oxygen from getting in while allowing the carbon dioxide that builds up during fermentation to release.
Fermented Green Chile Salsa
- 8 green chile peppers stems and seeds removed
- 8 jalapeños stems and seeds removed
- 8 Ancho peppers stems and seeds removed
- 8 large cloves garlic
- 2 large onions
- 2 tablespoons whole cumin seed roasted and crushed
- 2 tablespoons whole coriander seed roasted and crushed
- 2 tablespoons finely ground sea salt
- Process the peppers, the other vegetables, and the spices in a food processor. Sprinkle in the salt. The chopped pepper will become juicy immediately.
- Place the mash inside two quart-sized jars, leaving about an inch of airspace. Weight down with fermentation weights (like these), then seal with an airlock (like this) Set aside, somewhere nearby and out of direct sunlight for 10 - 14 days, or as long as 3 months - or until it achieves a flavor and sourness you enjoy.
- Check daily for the first few days that the mash is submerged. The mash pulp will tend to float leaving the brine below. Open the jar, stir with a clean utensil and reseal.
- Test the ferment on day ten. It's ready when the flavors have mingled and there is an acidic vinegar-like quality to the flavor. However, this pepper-based mash will develop more acidity and complex flavors with a longer ferment. The color of the green peppers will turn a muted olive green as the ferment ripens. Store in the fridge, where it will keep up to a year.
Pro Tip: Use this Salsa as a Base for Easy Dinners and Dips
This Green Chile Salsa acts like a base; not only is it a delicious green salsa as is, but it’s more—you will have ready-made flavor to keep on hand to add to many dishes.
Try a few tablespoons in sour cream for a dip, with mashed avocado for a guacamole, or dump the already-prepared chiles, veggies and spices into the pot like a seasoning packet (with ingredients you can pronounce).