One of our favorite ways to preserve hot peppers is to turn them into a lacto-fermented hot sauce. This condiment graces our table every night, and while I’m not the type to add hot sauce to my pasta and meatballs like my husband Brian, I appreciate a bit of spicy tang on my pork tacos and egg burritos! This year we decided to shake up our usual homemade hot sauce recipe and fire-roast the jalapeños before fermenting for a bit of smoky flavor. The results: Ah-mazing! Here is our fermented hot sauce recipe to make and to share!
Lacto-Fermented Fire-Roasted Jalapeño Hot Sauce
Making fermented hot sauce is quite easy – it’s a great beginner’s ferment because it’s really hard to get it wrong.
1) The first step is to source really fresh and delicious hot peppers. We have found that ripe, red jalapeños work better than cayenne (the seed to flesh ratio of cayennes is too high and you end up with a hot sauce that is slightly bitter because of the seeds), but another hot pepper of your choice will work!
Next, prepare a fire for roasting. We used our outdoor pizza oven and a live fire to roast the peppers, but you could also do this on a grill or over an open fire. Roast the peppers until blackened and peeling.
2) Remove the stems of the peppers, and if desired, chop into 2-3 pieces. At this point, you could also remove some of the seeds to reduce spiciness (and a bit of bitter flavor), but it’s not necessary.
3) Prepare a salt brine for the fermentation process. The lacto-fermentation process uses a salt brine to encourage the development of desired bacteria (Lactobacillus, predominantly) that convert lactose and other sugars into lactic-acid, a natural food preservative.
The salt brine is the same one used to make naturally fermented pickles or radishes. Because we use our salt brine frequently, I like to batch a gallon batch and keep it at the ready. To make one gallon of brine, simply dissolve 3/4 cup of salt in one gallon of water.
4) Place your fire-roasted jalapeños in a wide-mouthed mason jar (we used a quart sized jar) and cover the peppers completely with your salt brine. At this point, some home fermenters choose to use a glass weight like this one to keep the peppers under the level of the salt brine. You could also use a clean rock.
We also chose to add some whole garlic cloves to the ferment at this point, just for a bit of extra flavor.
5) Place your mason jar on a kitchen counter where you can keep an eye on your ferment. Every day or so, check to make sure your peppers are still under the level of the salt brine to prevent mold growth. If they are not, you may need to push them back under the brine, or adjust your weight.
6) Allow your fire-roasted jalapeños to ferment for a week or two. You will begin to see small bubbles forming – this is a good thing!. You can also taste a pepper and see if it has developed a nice tangy flavor. We have kept this batch of lacto-fermented hot sauce fermenting on our kitchen counter for several weeks.
7) At this point, you can either move the entire jar into cold storage (a root cellar, basement, or fridge works well), or you can blend your peppers into a liquid hot sauce. We tend to make a LOT of lacto-fermented hot sauce, so we move the jar of fermented peppers into cold storage in our root cellar, blending new batches of sauce as we need them.
Once you have blended your fire-roasted fermented hot sauce, you can keep a small jar on the table for easy use, and store the rest in your refrigerator.
8) I guarantee that your friends and family are going to want this recipe, so go ahead and bookmark this page now, for easy reference! Your homemade fire-roasted hot sauce will also make a fabulous holiday gift, so you may want to source some small glass jars for sharing!
For more on the basics of fermentation and some tips on long-term storage:
Did you make this fermented hot sauce recipe? How did you like the flavor?
I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below!
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