Fermentation basics: How to make fermented hot sauce

John Kopischke
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Basic fermented hot sauce recipe

Note: If you are worried about using not-pH-balanced salt water to ferment hot sauce, you are free to add vinegar to the mix. You should add it after you take the brine from the hot sauce container.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use the Korean, or wansungchagi method of fermentation to make hot sauce.

Start with about 2 cups of chilies that are slightly firm. You can use any kind (e.g. jalapeno, serrano, Thai, etc.) but remember that the spiciness of the sauce depends on the spiciness of the chilies.

This is what your brine looks like before you hurt anyone…

Get a large bowl and add about 5 cups of salt. Coat the chilies by adding them to the salt. Mix together and leave around 12 hours. This is what happens after the 12 hours.

Now, you want to put this brine mixture into a non-reactive pot. You can use either silver or stainless steel. Some people say that plastic can leach harmful chemicals into your ferment. Others say that the scale on silver and stainless can create an unpleasant texture in your hot sauce. If you have any concerns at all, stick with glass or ceramic.

Now, fill the pot up with water, leaving about 1/4 of headspace, and add about 1 tbsp of salt.

Basic fermented hot sauce ingredients

This fermented hot sauce recipe makes approximately 2 cups (1 pint) of sauce.

Here’s what you will need:

  • 2 cups of fresh hot peppers (preferably 5-7 medium sized red chili peppers)
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 cup of chopped onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns

Here’s what you will need to do:

Wash the hot peppers and dry them.

Remove the seeds, veins, and stems from the peppers. Wear goggles or eye protection when chopping the peppers, as they may escape from the cutting board.

Chop the onions and sprinkle them with 4 teaspoons of sea salt while mixing to make a salt-onion mixture.

Pack the peppers into a ceramic bowl or glass jar with a thick bottom.

This is where you will need a starter culture.

Add sea salt, vinegar, and water to the hot peppers.

Add the salt-onion mix on top of the peppers.

Add garlic and peppercorns to the mix.

Add enough water to fully submerge the peppers.

Mix the ingredients well and add a rubber band to the mouth of the bowl or jar to secure the contents and close them off from outside air.

Fruit ferments are very popular for a number of reasons. They are easy to do and because they don’t need to be cooked, they are generally healthy to eat. Fruit is rich in vitamins and most of the work in fermenting fruit is done by the lactic acid bacilli fermentation process.

Fruit ferments have many types of potential uses:

Uses in the kitchen:

  • Use as a side dish
  • Use in a salad
  • Make a fruit or vegetable salsa
  • Add to smoothies
  • Contribute to a marinade

Uses as a Preservative

  • Adding a bit of fermented food to a recipe can help preserve the food by increasing acidity and adding flavor
  • Souring does not always mean a bad taste, it can also refer to the souring of milk which is used to make yogurt and cheese.
  • In Korea, kimchi is used to treat ulcers and in Germany, sauerkraut is used to treat stomach ulcers.

Uses as Part of a Weight Loss Program

Soured fruits help lower the pH and increase the indigestible fiber which helps your body feel full.

Fermented hot sauce directions:

Start with clean glass jars. Wash them well and scald them by heating them up on your stove.

Now your jars are hot, have them ready, and take the cayenne peppers off the stem. Add your hot peppers to the jars, packing them tightly, and put the lids on.

Leave for a day at a time, tasting and replacing the lids and letting the peppers sit again.

Keep doing this and make sure the cayenne peppers are totally covered by liquid at all times.

Make sure there is space between the liquid and the lid.

Leave the water bath and place the jars where the temperature is not greater than 86„F; if it is warmer, then some of the water will evaporate, and the ferment is ruined.

Now you can put some strain onto the peppers by pressing them down, then weight them down below the liquid. This will keep the liquefied peppers submerged in the liquid during the fermentation process.

The time for fermenting is up to you. Some common varieties of pepper take about one week. Some of the hottest pepper varieties take longer. Once the fermentation process is over, you can still decide to keep the hot sauce in its current state or else dry it out.

You can dry it out by packing the prepared hot sauce into containers and placing them in a dehydrator.

Fruit ferments are very popular for a number of reasons. They are easy to do and because they don’t need to be cooked, they are generally healthy to eat. Fruit is rich in vitamins and most of the work in fermenting fruit is done by the lactic acid bacilli fermentation process.

Fruit ferments have many types of potential uses:

Uses in the kitchen:

  • Use as a side dish
  • Use in a salad
  • Make a fruit or vegetable salsa
  • Add to smoothies
  • Contribute to a marinade

Uses as a Preservative

  • Adding a bit of fermented food to a recipe can help preserve the food by increasing acidity and adding flavor
  • Souring does not always mean a bad taste, it can also refer to the souring of milk which is used to make yogurt and cheese.
  • In Korea, kimchi is used to treat ulcers and in Germany, sauerkraut is used to treat stomach ulcers.

Uses as Part of a Weight Loss Program

Soured fruits help lower the pH and increase the indigestible fiber which helps your body feel full.

Fermented habanero cilantro sauce recipe

Remove the stems from the habaneros and cut the peppers into quarters.

Discard the seeds. Using a blender and the food processor can be tricky with hot peppers, but you can do it with one of these methods. Take out the seeds first and run the blender for a few seconds at medium heat without adding any of the seeds or the skin into the mix. Blend everything you do add, and remove the seeds and skin from the mix. Run the food processor for a few seconds to heat them up and they will blow out of the food processor. Add the chopped peppers and the remaining ingredients, with the exception of the coconut milk. You should keep 3 tablespoons of the coconut milk or water in the refrigerator. Add the 3 tablespoons of coconut milk or water when the mixture seems dry.

Mix everything together well. If you think you’re above the 3 tablespoons of the coconut milk or water, add it to the mixture.

Use a piece of cheese cloth, place it on a bowl, and press the mixture into it. Squeeze gently to get everything out of the mixture.

Habanero cilantro sauce ingredients:

(Makes 1 cup. Increase recipe proportionally to yield any other amount of sauce.)

3 large habanero peppers, stems and seeds removed.

1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed, roughly chopped.

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped.

2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped.

Fruit ferments are very popular for a number of reasons. They are easy to do and because they don’t need to be cooked, they are generally healthy to eat. Fruit is rich in vitamins and most of the work in fermenting fruit is done by the lactic acid bacilli fermentation process.

Fruit ferments have many types of potential uses:

Uses in the kitchen:

  • Use as a side dish
  • Use in a salad
  • Make a fruit or vegetable salsa
  • Add to smoothies
  • Contribute to a marinade

Uses as a Preservative

  • Adding a bit of fermented food to a recipe can help preserve the food by increasing acidity and adding flavor
  • Souring does not always mean a bad taste, it can also refer to the souring of milk which is used to make yogurt and cheese.
  • In Korea, kimchi is used to treat ulcers and in Germany, sauerkraut is used to treat stomach ulcers.

Uses as Part of a Weight Loss Program

Soured fruits help lower the pH and increase the indigestible fiber which helps your body feel full.

Habanero cilantro sauce directions:

Below are the instructions for the basic recipe using the waterbath crockpot technique. Pouches for sous vide crockpots might also be used, although it is not yet an exact science. Please do NOT use the stovetop method below.

Fruit ferments are very popular for a number of reasons. They are easy to do and because they don’t need to be cooked, they are generally healthy to eat. Fruit is rich in vitamins and most of the work in fermenting fruit is done by the lactic acid bacilli fermentation process.

Fruit ferments have many types of potential uses:

Uses in the kitchen:

  • Use as a side dish
  • Use in a salad
  • Make a fruit or vegetable salsa
  • Add to smoothies
  • Contribute to a marinade

Uses as a Preservative

  • Adding a bit of fermented food to a recipe can help preserve the food by increasing acidity and adding flavor
  • Souring does not always mean a bad taste, it can also refer to the souring of milk which is used to make yogurt and cheese.
  • In Korea, kimchi is used to treat ulcers and in Germany, sauerkraut is used to treat stomach ulcers.

Uses as Part of a Weight Loss Program

Soured fruits help lower the pH and increase the indigestible fiber which helps your body feel full.

Fermented ghost pepper chipotle sauce recipe

Ingredients:

  • 80 grams jalapeno
  • 6 grams garlic
  • 40 grams red chili peppers
  • 10 grams salt
  • 40 grams sugar
  • 16 grams cilantro
  • 12 grams cumin
  • (You can scale these amounts up or down accordingly if you have larger or smaller volume jars)

Equipment needed:

  • 1 medium sized mixing bowl
  • cheesecloth or coffee filter
  • 2 small glass jars
  • Fermentation Chamber

Directions:

Step 1. Add all of the ingredients into the mixing bowl. Toss everything together until it is evenly mixed.

Step 2. Fill the jars halfway full with the mixed ingredients. Use a cheesecloth or coffee filter to cover the mouth the jar. (leave plenty of extra room at the top of the jar for carbon dioxide release during fermentation)

Step 3. Fill the jars the rest of the way up with your brine solution. Use about 5-6 tablespoons of salt for every 1 quart you are fermenting. ( if your brine solution is not salty enough the food can spoil, if it is too salty it can inhibit microbial growth)

Step 4. Taste the sauce every few days. Once the sour flavor disappears and it reaches the level of spiciness you desire, it’s done.

Fermented ghost pepper chipotle sauce ingredients:

After gutting the peppers or chilies, sanitize a large airtight plastic container.

Put the chilies or peppers, garlic cloves, onions, a bay leaf, and water and salt into the watertight container.

The ratio of chilies or peppers to water to water and salt is dependent on the quantity of chilies or peppers that you are fermenting. Keep it at roughly a 3:1 ratio. So, if you are fermenting 3 lbs of peppers, then use 1 lb of water.

Leave room at the top for natural fermentation expansion.

Close the container and allow to ferment for about 1 day.

After 1 day, taste the peppers. If they’re at a desired level of spiciness and heat, then remove the peppers from the fermentation container.

If you want more spiciness and heat to be attained during the fermentation process, leave the peppers longer in the container.

For a milder flavor, remove the peppers from the container at about 24 hours and refrigerate.

Always use clean hands to remove the hot peppers. Use the same watertight container for the brining process after the pH levels have been reduced.

After the peppers have been removed from the fermentation container, for fermenting or refrigeration, discard the used bay leaf.

Add the fresh distilled water, as well as the pickling salt and sugar and salt.

Fermented ghost pepper chipotle sauce directions:

The first thing you should know is that fermented hot sauces work best with fresh ingredients. Here you can use fresh habanero chilies or an ordinary jalapeno. Whatever you use, you will need to purge the chilies by soaking them in water with a tablespoon of salt added. Two or three tablespoons of coarse salt to a quart of water work best.

After you have purged the peppers of some of their seeds and membranes, take them out of the brine solution and pat them dry with a paper towel. You can add some brine solution to the blender for making and blending the sauce.

Next, you will add hot sauce flavors. Now you have the choice of either adding fermented hot sauce or ingredients to the recipe. I like using fermented hot sauce, as it gives it a nice kick but without making it too spicy. Add cooled sweet peppers which can be obtained commercially or you can freeze green bell peppers and let them thaw at room temperature.

Also add garlic or fermented garlic and opt for a pinch or two of cumin. Add the peppers in as you normally would if making a fresh hot sauce.

Now that you have the proper ingredients added, you need to blend them. However, you should do this in small batches. I like using my regular blender. However, I have also used a food processor to make hot sauce.

Fermented Thai chili lemongrass sauce recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 head fresh lemongrass
  • 15-20 Thai chilies
  • 2 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp desiccated unsulfured organic coconut
  • 2 tbsp chopped organic limes

Method:

Remove the outer layers of the lemongrass and discard.

Wash the inner core and chop into small pieces.

Add several Thai chilies and amount of ginger and lime to your liking.

Fill a one quart mason jar with the ingredients and 1.5 cups of warm filtered water.

The next day, add half a cup of organic unbleached white flour. Use a non-reactive cloth to cover the jar and let it sit at room temperature.

Check daily for the white to clear, usually within a few days to a week.

Strain the solid ingredients.

If using, add organic unrefined sugar to taste.

Fermented Thai chili lemon sauce ingredients:

12 medium-sized Thai chili peppers, chopped into bite-sized pieces.

10 lemons, zest of half, strips of flesh of rest of fruit.

Fermented Thai chili lemon sauce directions:

Step 1: Supplies

  • 1 large pot large enough to nearly submerge the washed and cut fruits. 1 large pot is 15" wide and at least 2 gallons. It should have a heavy bottom.
  • 1 large storage container for the finished sauce, enough to contain at least 8 cups of liquid and top with at least 1-2" of headspace. Wide-mouth containers are easiest to work with. Any finish you like should be OK.
  • A 3-4 cup food-safe container with a tight-fitting lid to hold the Chili pepper pieces; these can be reused.
  • A cutting board and knife or food processor
  • Water, enough to just cover the cut fruit
  • Salt, 1 tsp per pint of fruit
  • Optional: Ground chili pepper. This is used in the early stages to increase acidity during the fruit fermentation stage. Start with a tsp per pint of fruit; adjust to your heat preference.
  • Optional: Add 1 Tbs of a natural preservative, like ascorbic acid, citric acid, or full-strength lemon juice per gallon of finished puree.
  • Optional: A fermentation weight (aka Pickle-Pusher); heavy plastic lid from a Tupperware or Rubbermaid container works nicely and can be re-used.

Step 2: What to ferment