Hot sauce, like Tabasco sauce, Sriracha sauce, and hot chili sauce get their heat from hot chili peppers and their flavors from the fruitiness of the peppers, from garlic, and from sugar. This fermented hot sauce recipe is basic without the added ingredients you’d find in a store-bought hot sauce.
If you’d like your hot sauce with more garlic, go ahead and add six peeled and halved, raw garlic cloves to the ferment. The fermentation adds a sweetness of its own. This can be augmented with brown or organic sugar to taste after the fermentation is complete.
How to Make Fermented Hot Sauce
(Makes 2 cups – 1 pint of fermented hot sauce)
- 2 lbs red jalapeño peppers, stem removed
- 2 cups of boiled and chilled water
- 1 tbsp. Himalayan salt
- 2 tbsp. fermentation starter from another batch (optional)
- 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and split (optional)
- 1 Fermentools kit
- 1 quart wide-mouth jar
- Blender with jar
- Metal ring for the wide mouth jar
Wash the jalapeño peppers. Note that if you can’t find red jalapeño peppers, green jalapeños will also work, but the heat will be less. Green jalapeños may turn red and ripen further if left at room temperature for a few days. This is more likely with jalapeños grown in your own garden or bought directly from the farm, than for jalapeños bought at the grocery store. Once they have been stored and chilled, they may stop the ripening process.
Wearing disposable gloves, slice jalapeño peppers into rings, retaining the membrane and seeds. Place in a sterilized wide-mouth quart jar. Fill the jar to the shoulders, shaking the jar to compact more pepper rings into the jar.
Mix salt and water in a glass measuring cup. Pour the prepared brine over the peppers to the shoulders of the jar, covering the peppers. Using a clean knife, dislodge any air bubbles in the jar.
Add two tablespoons of the fermentation starter from a successful batch of fermented vegetables. If you don’t have a successful batch of fermented vegetables yet, see this post for other ways to obtain a starter for your batch of fermented vegetables. Using a starter ensures that your batch of fermented vegetables begins with the correct beneficial bacteria. It also shortens the fermentation time by a day or two. However, using a starter is optional.
Clean the Fermentools kit components in hot soapy water. Rinse well. Sterilize all parts of the kit in hydrogen peroxide. Wipe dry with a clean cloth or tea towel. Do not use boiling water to sterilize the Fermentools kit. It will damage the fermentation lock.
Place the glass weight from the Fermentools kit into the neck of the glass jar.
Top up the jar with more brine if necessary to fill the jar to the neck. Leave one inch of headspace to allow for the jar contents to expand during fermentation. Place the gasket, lid, stopper and fermentation lock on top of the jar and secure with the metal ring from a wide-mouth canning jar.
Place the jar on a plate to catch any spills. Ferment at room temperature, away from direct sunlight.
After 24 to 30 hours you will notice fine bubbles forming inside the jar. Those bubbles will become coarser and more numerous over the next 48 hours. The pepper rings will rise in the jar and the chamber of the fermentation lock will fill with liquid.
The fermentation stops in the jar when the peppers sink to the bottom of the jar and you no longer see any bubbles rising in the jar.
Remove the fermentation lock, lid, gasket, and weight. At this point, you have pickled jalapeño peppers. You can serve them at this point or take it one more step to make hot sauce.
Turn pickled peppers into fermented hot sauce
Move the pickled jalapeño rings into the jar of a blender. Leave the liquid behind, only using enough of the pickling brine, in the blend, to get your preferred thickness of hot pepper sauce.
I prefer to use the closed jar of a Magic Bullet Blender rather than an open blender like the Vitamix. The fumes from blending the peppers can be very strong and will make you catch your breath. Any pets in the room, infants, or toddlers may also experience difficulty breathing. By blending in a closed jar, this is minimized.
Blend on medium speed until you no longer see any seeds in the mixture and the hot pepper sauce is of a uniform consistency. Add more brine from the ferment to make the batch more liquid, if you prefer. It will thicken as it is blended.
Taste your hot sauce recipe by the drop and see if it has the flavor you are looking for. At this point, you can make it sweeter by adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of organic sugar or brown sugar to the batch. Adding sugar is optional. Add it slowly a little at a time. You can’t take it away once you add it.
Store your hot sauce in a bottle which has a drop reducer in the lid. Often quality vegetable or nut oils are packaged in these kinds of bottles. You can upcycle one for your hot sauce recipe if you don’t have another bottle.
Use your hot sauce by the drop not by the tablespoon. Kept refrigerated, this hot sauce will last a year or more.
Turning up the heat
Hot peppers vary in the heat value of the peppers. Heat is measured subjectively using “heat units” on a scale of 0 to 10 with sweet bell peppers being a 0 to 1 on the scale and habanero peppers being a 10. Jalapeños are a 5 on this scale, right in the middle. If you want a spicier hot sauce, substitute a hotter pepper for three or four of the jalapeño peppers.