Fermented Sweet Pepper Sauce

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Fermented sweet pepper sauce is exactly what it sounds like — sweet peppers, garlic and salt combined with the process of lacto-fermentation. These ingredients are mixed together with vinegar and placed in a mason jar to be allowed to ferment. That’s it!

This fermented sweet pepper sauce has a dash of vinegar that really makes it tasty for those who like certain kinds of sauce. It is made with bell peppers and packed full of health benefits. This is not just any other sweet pepper sauce but it’s the best one we have ever tried.

FERMENTED PEPPER SAUCE – YOUR FAVORITE NEW CONDIMENT

Fermented Pepper Sauce - Main Image

ABOUT THE RECIPE

Native to the Americas, Bell Pepper or Capsicum (as it is popularly known in other parts of the world) is a resourceful member of the pepper family that can be enjoyed raw or cooked, powdered or preserved. Mild and sweet, the bell pepper comes in a variety of enticing colors – red, green, yellow and orange – looking as wonderful as it tastes. Ever notice how cookery shows or movies with a cooking scene usually have peppers decorating the set in some form? Now imagine how appealing your kitchen will look with a shelf lined with jars of deliciously fragrant and colorful fermented pepper salsa (as demonstrated in the featured recipe.) As delicious as traditional tomato salsa is, this bell pepper version makes a pretty awesome alternative and is guaranteed not to disappoint!

HEALTH BENEFITS

Crunchy and fresh tasting, the beautiful bell pepper is an impressive source of antioxidants, dietary fiber and folate. It also happens to be low in calories so don’t be afraid to indulge and encourage children to do the same. The red onion included in this peppery mix are high in beneficial polyphenols which contribute to a healthy gut. And, research has shown that capsaicin found in jalapeno peppers help to ward of certain types of cancer. Just incase you needed anymore reasons to give this recipe a shot:

  • One cup of bell peppers provides your daily quota of Vitamin A and C.
  • Jalapeno and red peppers are an excellent source of Vitamin C, which helps boost the immune system.
  • Contains capsaicin which helps with migraine relief and nasal congestion.
  • Bell peppers also contain vitamin B6, which helps renew cells and maintain the nervous system.

This salsa is an easy way to increase you pepper intake and supplement your daily diet with vitamins and minerals. By adding jalapenos, onions and garlic to the mix, we magnify the overall nutritional value.  A tablespoon or two with your daily meal not only brings flavor but health promoting goodness.

LET’S GET STARTED

Red bell peppers (compared to the other colored varieties) concentrate the highest levels of Vitamin C. For best-tasting results choose firm peppers with fresh, glossy skin. Allowing peppers to ferment in a brine prevents them from losing their crunchy bite while they absorb the rich flavors of the other complimentary ingredients.

WHAT YOU NEED

  • 3 Pounds sweet red peppers, minced (adjust quantity for jar)
  • 1 Pound jalapenos, deseeded and minced
  • 2 Onions, minced
  • 4 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Jalapenos, sliced or chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. unrefined sea salt
  • Easy Fermenter Lids (not required)
  • Fermenting Weights (not required)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large bowl mix together all the ingredients. A food processor can be used if you want salsa consistency that is closer to a spread.
  2. Spoon mixture into a pre-sterilized, wide mouth mason glass jar.
  3. Cover the jar with the Easy Fermenter Lid and place the Fermentation Weights in the jar to ensure perfect fermentation results.
  4. Store in a cool, dark place (room temperature 60-70°F is preferred,) for 2 to 3 weeks.
  5. Once jar has been opened, move to cold storage. The flavor will continue to develop and intensify over time. Once ready, this ferment will keep in the fridge for up to 12 months in the fridge.

VISUAL GUIDE

Variations To The Ferment

Preserving came about from the necessity to store and prevent the spoilage of food. Today it has developed into a type of creative culinary art. With our hectic lifestyles it is often tempting to go down the easy route and buy pre-made food products often pumped with unnecessary additives, colorants and artificial preservatives. A real shame when fermenting food is easy, economical and healthy. Unlike our ancestors, we now can choose to preserve inexpensive yet wholesome food to enjoy everyday.

This delicious sweet pepper salsa recipe is a wonderful example of how the nutritious goodness of food can be conserved. Make a rainbow salsa with different colors of pepper; still got a heap of tomatoes in the fridge, great, throw those in too. This ferment recipe is totally flexible. Just make sure you don’t leave out the salt which is essential to get the ferment process going. The more you familiarize yourself with the fermentation process the more confident you’ll become in your experiments. Using up food this way, reduces waste and sets a good example for the future generations.

Easy Fermented Hot Sauce

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.

Ripe, red jalapeños, garlic and cherry bomb peppers fermenting in a glass jar for hot sauce

What is it?

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, the flavor will deepen, growing more complex and acidic as beneficial bacteria go to work.

Most of the world’s most beloved hot sauces – from Tobasco to Sriracha – begin in the fermentation crock, and that’s because fermentation gives the hot sauce a bright acidity and deep, complex flavor that develops slowly with time. And, fortunately, they’re simple to make. You just toss hot, ripe chili peppers in a jar with plenty of garlic and other spices as it suits you, then cover them with salt water, and wait.

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Fermentation is a magical and transformative culinary technique that not only helps to preserve foods that might otherwise spoil, but 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 good bacteria, just like yogurt, sauerkraut, or radish kimchi.

What’s in it?

At its most basic, you’ll only need three ingredients to make a fermented hot sauce: fresh peppers, salt, and water. These ingredients are the foundation of hot sauce. However, you can enhance the flavor and the complexity of your sauce by adding additional ingredients. Alliums, such as garlic and onions, as well as herbs, spices, and even fruit work well to enhance the flavor of homemade hot sauce.

  • Fresh chilies are the foundation of a good homemade hot sauce, fermented or not. Fully ripe chilies are best for making a fermented sauce, so look for yellow, orange, or red chilies rather than green ones. Fresno peppers, aji amarillo, and scotch bonnets work well for fermented hot sauce as do fully ripe jalapeños, Thai chilies, or serranos. Sweet peppers, such as bell peppers, can be added for a milder sauce.
  • Garlic can give your sauce its depth, and it provides a grounding note that tempers the fiery top notes of fresh chili pepper.
  • Fruit can be a delicious addition to homemade hot sauce, too. Its natural sweetness can bring balance to the heat of chilies. Citrus, such as tangarine, lime or orange, is particularly delicious; however, many home cooks have good luck adding blueberries or even pineapple to their sauce.
  • Spices and other aromatics can bring balance to your sauce. Ginger,turmeric, szechuan peppercorns, hibiscus flowers, and even allspice can work well depending on the full flavor profile you prefer.
  • Salt is a necessary ingredient for most fermented foods. It’s best to use a minimally processed salt with no additives for fermentation

What kind of equipment do you need?

At its heart, fermentation is simple. In order to make fermented hot sauce, as well as many other fermented foods, you’ll need a few key pieces of equipment including a vessel and a lid. In the case of hot sauce, you’ll want a high-speed blender, too.

  • A fermentation vessel can be as simple as a mason jar. You can also purchase crocks and jars specifically designed for fermentation.
  • An airlock or fermentation lid is helpful for allowing the carbon dioxide that naturally builds up during fermentation to escape, while preventing the free flow of oxygen which can contribute to mold formation.
  • Glass fermentation weights are helpful, but not essential, and they help to keep your chilies submerged during fermentation, preventing the formation of mold and keeping your hot-sauce-to-be safe.
  • A blender is necessary for puréeing the fermented chili peppers and turning them into homemade hot sauce. If you don’t have a blender, you can work in batches to purée the peppers and brine in a food processor instead.

How to make fermented hot sauce

Making this hot sauce recipe, as with most fermented foods, is easier than you think and fairly straightforward. There are requires two primary steps: fermenting the chili peppers, and then blending the sauce.

  • Prepare the ingredients. You’ll want to prep the chilies and any other ingredients you have in advance. You’ll rinse the chilies to remove any debris, and then cut away the stem end. Coarsely chopping the chilies can speed up fermentation, too.
  • Mix the brine. A typical brine for fermentation is about 2%; however, for both hot and sweet peppers a higher level of salt is optimal, and you’ll typically need to ferment these ingredients in a 3-3.5% brine. You can mix the salt and water together on the stove, and then allow it to cool to room temperature before adding it to the chilies.
  • Combine the chilies and brine. After about two weeks, your chilies will be done fermenting and ready to make into sauce. You’ll purée chilies and any other ingredients, as well as some of the brine together to form the sauce.
  • Strain the finished hot sauce. If you prefer a thinner sauce, you can strain it if you like.

Tips for making hot sauce

While making fermented hot sauce is simple, there are a few tricks you want to keep in mind so that it comes out right every time. Paying attention to the quality and variety of ingredients as well as proper fermentation techniques can make a big difference in the quality of your sauce.

  • Remove the seeds from the hot peppers if you prefer a milder hot sauce.
  • Use a variety of fresh peppers. Chilis vary in flavor. Accordingly, some have smoky notes, others bitter and others sweet. When using a variety of peppers, you’ll get the deepest and most complex flavor out of your sauce.
  • Use ripe chilis. Fermentation amplifies the bitter notes you taste in unripe, green hot chilis. Using ripe chilis eliminates that bitterness and can give a your hot sauce better flavor.
  • Use filtered or dechlorinated water. Chlorinated water may interfere with successful fermentation, so use a good water filter or dechlorinate your water by letting it sit overnight before you add it to your chilis.
  • Fill your jar with brine within 1 inch of its opening. Leaving too much headspace will increase the likelihood of mold formation.
  • Keep your chilis submerged under brine. Glass fermentation weights help keep your chilis and garlic submerged while they ferment, lowering the chance that your hot sauce will be contaminated with mold.
  • Use an airtight jar or fermentation seal. An airtight jar or a fermentation seal will prevent oxygen from getting into your chilis while they ferment which helps keep your hot sauce safe from mold contamination.
  • Pay attention to temperature. Foods ferment faster in warm temperature and more slowly in cool temperatures.
  • Pay attention to flavor and aroma. Your fermented hot peppers are ready when their flavor and aroma pleases you. Some people prefer younger ferments, while others prefer aged ferments.
  • Strain for a thin sauce, don’t strain for a thick sauce. After blending the peppers, garlic and brine together you can strain the purée which will give you a thin hot sauce and a thick pepper mash. Alternatively, if you avoid straining, you’ll have a thickened hot sauce about the consistency of sriracha.

How to store your sauce

Fermented hot sauce is a living food that’s rich in food enzymes and 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 long-term storage, but the high heat of canning will destroy the sauce’s beneficial bacteria.

Homemade Hot Sauce (Fermented or Quick Cook Recipe)

yield: ABOUT 2 QUARTS

prep time: 10 MINUTES

cook time: 5 MINUTES

additional time: 5 DAYS

total time: 5 DAYS 15 MINUTES

Homemade hot sauce makes a perfect gift! Make either traditional fermented hot sauce or a quick cook version, which is done in less than half an hour.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds peppers of your choosing (a mix of sweet peppers and hot peppers), tops/stems removed, halved
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum, optional (see notes)

Instructions

For the Fermented Version

  1. Place the peppers and garlic in a clean wide-mouth quart canning jar. Set aside.
  2. To make the brine, heat the filtered water and sea salt in a medium saucepan until the salt has dissolved completely. Let cool to room temperature. 
  3. Pour the brine over the peppers and garlic, completely submerging them. If you run out of brine, you can make more by mixing 1 cup of warm filtered water with 1 teaspoon of sea salt.
  4. Fit the jar with a fermentation lid or cheesecloth secured with a rubber band (see notes on weighing down the peppers if using cheesecloth). Place in a warm, dark spot for 5-7 days, or until the brine looks cloudy and small bubbles begin to appear when you tap the side of the jar. Make sure the peppers stay submerged under the brine during the entire fermentation process to prevent mold-growth.
  5. When the fermentation time is up, strain the brine, reserving it. Place the fermented peppers and garlic in a blender, and add in 1 cup of the brine, plus the apple cider vinegar, and honey or maple syrup, if using. Blend until completely smooth, adding in additional brine to reach the desired thickness. 
  6. While the blender is running, sprinkle in the xanthan gum, if using, and blend for an additional minute.
  7. Transfer to a bottle and store in the fridge for 3-6 months.

For the Quick Cooked Version

  1. Combine the peppers, garlic, 2 cups of water, 2 teaspoons of sea salt, apple cider vinegar, and honey or maple syrup, if using, in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the peppers and garlic have softened.
  2. Pour mixture into a blender (making sure to leave the cover vent open, but covered with a kitchen towel) and blend until very smooth.
  3. While the blender is running, sprinkle in the xanthan gum, if using, and blend for an additional minute.
  4. Transfer mixture to a squeeze bottle and store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.

Notes

  • If you choose to use cheesecloth during fermentation, you’ll need to use some sort of weight to keep the peppers submerged under the brine to prevent mold growth. You can purchase specialty weights to do this, or fill a zip-top sandwich bag with water and submerge it in the top of the jar.
  • In this recipe, xanthan gum works as an emulsifier, stablizer, and thickener. It is 100% optional. If you choose not to use it, your hot sauce will separate in the fridge. Just give it a good shake each time you go to use it. 
  • The hot sauce will thicken considerably in the fridge, so keep that in mind as you decide on the consistency while blending. 
  • Depending on the power of your blender, your hot sauce may be foamy when you’re finished blending. If so, let the hot sauce rest for 15-20 minutes, then scrape off any foam before bottling.

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