In the late summer and early autumn, you’ll find baskets brimming with ripe hot peppers at your local farmers market. And, one of the best ways you can make use of all that fiery abundance is to toss the peppers in a jar with plenty of garlic and make Fermented Hot Sauce.
Most of the worlds most beloved hot sauces – from Tobasco to Sriracha – begin in the fermentation crock, and that’s because fermentation gives hot sauce a bright acidity and deep, complex flavor that develops slowly with time.
Fortunately, fermented hot sauces are super simple to make. All you need to do is toss hot, ripe chilis in a jar with plenty of garlic and other spices as it suits you, cover them with salt water and wait. Then blend, bottle and toss it in the fridge. It’s that simple.
What is fermented hot sauce?
Fermented hot sauce is a spicy, slightly acidic sauce made by fermenting hot chilis and other ingredients together in a jar or crock. Over time, flavor will deepen, growing more and more complex and more acidic as beneficial bacteria go to work. When it’s sour enough, and you like the flavor, you’ll blend the ingredients together with brine or vinegar. Some recipes call for straining which produces a thin sauce, while others do not and produce a thicker sauce.
Fermentation is a magical and transformative culinary technique that not only helps to preserve foods that might otherwise spoil, but it also gives foods a complex and rich depth of flavor. As a result, you’ll have a deeply flavor-forward sauce that’s full of beneficial bacteria, like yogurt or sauerkraut,
Fermented Hot Sauce Recipe
- 2 pounds fresh chilies
- 6 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons fine sea salt
- 4 cups warm water
- Remove the tops from the peppers, and split them in half lengthwise. Pack a quart-sized mason jar tightly with the peppers, leaving about 1-inch headspace. Drop in the cloves of garlic.
- Whisk the salt into the warm water until it dissolves. Pour the brine over the chiles and garlic.
- Place a weight over the chiles and garlic so they remain submerged beneath the brine. Seal the jar tightly with an airlocked lid, and allow the chiles to ferment at room temperature 2 to 3 weeks, or until they smell and taste pleasantly sour.
- Strain the brine and reserve it. Transfer the chiles to a high-speed blender. Add 1 cup of the reserved brine to the blender, and process until smooth. For a thin sauce, strain through a fine mesh sieve. For a thick sauce, simply spoon the purée into jars, thinning with additional brine as necessary.
- Use right away or store in the refrigerator up to 1 year.
How to Store Fermented Hot Sauce
Fermented hot sauce is a living food that’s rich in food enzymes and in beneficial bacteria. Once you purée the chilies and bottle your sauce, it will continue to ferment. So store your fermented hot sauce in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation process. You can also pour your sauce into jars and can it for longterm storage, but the high heat of canning will destroy the sauce’s beneficial bacteria.