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Hot Sauce on the Horizon

This is turning out to be a good season for hot chiles in our garden. We have a few plants, different varieties and they’ve been ripening faster than we can eat them. I thought this year I’d have a go at making some fermented hot sauce. I’ve done lacto-fermentation before – a couple years ago I made some fab fermented dill pickles and it was really easy.

I roughly chopped up some chiles from the garden and dropped them into a sterilized mason jar. I also added several cloves of garlic. The brine formula I used was 1.25 teaspoons of fine sea salt for each cup of warm water. Warming the water helps dissolve the salt. Folks who do this all the time often have fancy glass weights to keep their chiles submerged. I improvised using a piece of tin foil and a pestle, and I think that will work just fine.

I expect that the brine will start getting cloudy after a few days. This is a good thing. After about a week, the chiles will have fermented enough. After that, I’ll blend them up with some of the brine and a splash of cider vinegar. At this stage, I can also add some sugar or honey or any herbs I want to include.

Fermented hot sauce does not get “canned”. That means it has to be stored in the fridge. I’m going to see if I can get a few squeeze bottles at the $$ store for this purpose. Fermentation will continue very slowly in the fridge, and that’s ok. The flavours will deepen and become a little more acidic over time.

The goal in doing this process is to create an environment that promotes lactic acid bacteria. Harmful bacteria won’t be able to survive in the salty, acidic environment. All veggies have lactic acid bacteria on them. The brine needs to have enough saltiness to kill nasty bacteria but not so salty that the good bacteria we’re trying to promote dies.

By the time this batch is ready, I’ll likely be overwhelmend with loads more fresh chiles in the garden. Maybe I’ll make a second batch at that time and make friends.

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