2020 has been very trying to get through but it has brought back a lot of interest in making and preserving food at home. I’ve been busier than popcorn in a skillet this year trying to keep up with running restaurants in the middle of the pandemic, but I have carved out time to garden and preserve foods at the house. One of my favorite things to make so far has been fermented habanero ginger hot sauce. Fermenting is so easy to do, and really helps a hot sauce in my opinion. Instead of just heat, fermenting really gives a depth of flavor to the hot sauce that simply blending one won’t do.
Fermenting is really easy. It’s one of the oldest forms of food preservation. Basically, all you are doing is acidifying food so they will be preserved. You do this naturally by soaking vegetables in a brine solution. For any solution, you’ll want to use pickling salt or a finely ground Himalayan salt. Most recipes call for a 3% salt solution. This solution is basically 3 tablespoons of salt per quart of water. Some recipes call for differing amounts, but I’ve used this and been very happy with the results. Allow to ferment for at least 6-7 days, but I usually allow my hot sauces to go for 30 days. Most active fermenting will stop after 10-12 days, but I think you’ll still get better flavor going longer.
What equipment do I need?
For equipment to ferment peppers, you really don’t need much. You can get started with just some mason jars. Fermenting releases gases from the bacteria (good bacteria, not bad bacteria) while the food ferments, so a fermenting lid with an airlock will make things easier. However, you can easily just quickly open the jars once or twice a day to release the build-up of gas. Another nice thing to have is a fermentation weight, which will hold whatever you are fermenting below the level of the brine. If you don’t have one, just put a bit of brine in a small, resealable bag and place over the vegetables to keep them under.
For hot sauce, you’ll also want some form of bottle to place the hot sauce in. I purchased some “boozy” bottles from Amazon (your typical hot sauce bottle shape.) This makes it fun and easy to give as gifts.
Especially if you’re just starting out, there really is no need to buy a lot of equipment. Get started and see how you enjoy it. I will tell you I have thoroughly enjoyed preserving food, and especially hot sauce, this way.
Here’s the recipe, hope y’all enjoy!
- fermentation air locks recommended
- 1 lb yellow habanero peppers stemmed and chopped
- 1/2 pineapple cored and chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper stemmed and seeded
- 3" piece ginger peeled and chopped
- 8-10 cloves garlic lightly crushed
- 3 TBS pickling salt
- 1 quart filtered water
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- WEARING GLOVES, stem and chop habanero peppers. Place in 1-quart fermentation jar. Add pineapple, ginger, and garlic and press down to compact ingredients.
- Slice bell pepper in half, and place over the top of other ingredients. A fermentation weight placed on top of the bell pepper will be helpful. If you don't have one, place some of the brine in a small resealable plastic bag and place on top of the peppers.
- Mix 3 tablespoons pickling salt or finely ground Himalayan salt in the quart of water. Ensure it is fully dissolved. Pour salt water over the peppers. Leave minimum 1/2" headspace in the jar. Make sure all items are submerged. Place a lid with an airlock on the jar. If you don't have an airlock, just remember to slightly open the lid and "burp" the jar once or twice a day.
- Date the jar, and allow to ferment for at least 14 days. Over another pot (and wearing gloves,) remove the fermentation weight and strain out brine. Place the solids in a blender along with 1 cup of the brine (you can add more for a saltier sauce.) Puree. Add the cup of vinegar.
- Press through a fine-mesh sieve over a clean stockpot to separate the solids from the liquid. Bring hot sauce to a quick boil, then turn off the heat. Bottle and store in the refrigerator. The hot sauce will keep indefinitely refrigerated.