Fermenting peppers


#1

I have some jalapeños and Tabasco‘s I was going to try fermenting. Couple of points I’m not clear on, maybe somebody knows.
One version they chop course, and submerge in salt and water.
The other they just add salt and smash it up.
I don’t have fancy airlock equipment, so I’m wondering if submerging in brine would be more reliable?
Also, how does it actually taste? One reason I’m interested in this is I’m eating too much acidic foods ( for example vinegar), so I was hoping for a different way to preserve or eat the peppers that will lower the heat level and still taste delicious.
I don’t want to spend three years on this, so I’m wondering if a short fermentation is going to be worth the hassle and worth something that the family are going to want to eat.


#2

Fermented peppers are great! All of the above methods will work. The most important points are to have some salt to slow down nasty bugs, and to make sure it all stays submerged, either in brine or its own salted juices. This creates an environment that slows down food pathogens and favors lactic acid bacteria. No need for airlocks, just add a weight (clean rock, plate, plastic bag full of brine) to keep things submerged. Some kind of loose cover is handy to keep flies, cats, etc out, but not strictly necessary. The initial ferment often takes just a few days to a few weeks, depending on how much salt, what temperature, how finely you chop, etc. After it’s soured to the point you want, stick it in jars in the fridge and it will keep for quite a while. I highly recommend getting The Art of Fermentation by Katz out of your library. Few recipes, but he explains the process so you can figure out your own.

A note on acidity: it’s still going to be acidic, you’re just using bacteria to acidify instead of vinegar.


#3

I would also recommend the book Fiery Ferments. Make sure you use sea salt or salt without caking agents and iodine in it. Also, red jalapenos are going to taste different fermented than the green ones because they have more sugar. You can also add onion and garlic to the ferment if you want. I’ve done both ways and they work fine. The finer they’re chopped the faster they ferment.


#4

I’ll have to check out that book. It sounds like my kind of fermenting! Regarding salt, I’ve never noticed a difference using salt with anti-caking agents or iodide vs sea salt or kosher salt. Microbes are more resilient than they get credit for.


#5

I don’t have many cookbooks, but that one is definitely worth getting IMO! As far as salt goes - I’ve sometimes noticed some weird flavors develop. I can’t say for sure it’s from the type of salt, but I usually just play it safe. Either way they ferment fine for me. I also prefer a lower salt percentage in my ferments.


#6

Weird. I find that interesting. Like I said, I’ve never noticed a difference, but I’m realizing I’ve never done a side-by-side comparison. Anyone up for a double-blind experiment?


#7

I did mine in a 5 gal bucket and added carrot and garlic. I sliced everything and smashed the garlic. I then covered the contents with water, enough that I could submerge everything with a plate, and then dumped the water out to get it’s weight. I then calculated 2.5% of the waters weight and that’s how much salt I added. I then poured that brine back over the mix, placed a piece of parchment paper over the mix and weighed the solids down with a plate. Mine went for 7-8 days before I blended it up for hot sauce.


#8

Yum! That’s some serious quantity right there. I bet the carrots make it extra tasty.


#9

Since my Jalapeno’s were all green I wanted the carrots for some sweetness, and it seems to have worked out well. I had to pick before I lost everything to frost.


#10

Hi Andy,
What’s your room temperature during the 7-8 day period?


#11

Thanks for the advice and those all look great guys.
Wouldn’t it be more efficient to just purée everything from the beginning with a stick blender? Or is the only reason not to do that because you can’t submerge it under brine?


#12

Anti Caking agents just leave the brine cloudy.


#13

That looks great! How’d it taste? I’ve had mixed results fermenting peppers. That’s how I do sauerkraut. A gallon pickle jar filled with water makes a great weight for your plate.


#14

Around 68-74F.


#15

The color is a bit off-putting, but taste is great. To get the right consistency I used about 1/3 of the brine when I blended them up.


#16

Good to know! I’ll have to give fermenting another shot next season. I’ve had very mixed results with fermenting. I think I’ve been leaving it too long. My pepper crop was terrible this year too so it’ll give me a chance to get through my stock pile.


#17

Can frozen peppers be fermented?
Does tap water chlorine affect fermentation (flavor)?
Are green or yellow Tabasco peppers worth using in sauce?


#18

I haven’t tried frozen, but they would probably be mushier, and might need some fresh items or juice from a previous ferment to jump start the bacterial population. Mushy wouldn’t be an issue for blending into sauce. Many people will tell you that chlorinated or chloraminated water will not allow fermentation, but I’ve never found this to be the case. Any residual chlorine flavor will be gone after 24 hrs (pro tip: if the only thing you don’t like about your water’s taste is chlorine, just put it in a pitcher in the fridge. The chlorine will evaporate out by the time you get around to drinking it.) As far as green or yellow Tabaso peppers, if you like the flavor of them raw/fresh, you’ll probably like them fermented, too.


#19

Ah thanks.
Regarding green Tabasco’s, I’m wondering if they are used at all, or people don’t eat them?


#20

YES, and really because there is not hassle. Mix a nice salty brine and throw in sliced peppers. Sweet or hot, with or without seeds, adding onion or garlic or what have you if you like. There are almost no rules other than keep the vegetative matter submerged below the brine somehow (one can buy special glass or clay discs, but a clean stone or a baggie filled with water or brine works) keep a loose cover over all, and give it at least a few days at room temp before calling it good and refrigerating. Or, if you are doing large quantities that won’t fit in the fridge, just put the whole bucket or vat in the root cellar. In very warm temp, more salt makes safer lacto ferment, so then I pour off and even rinse if needed before eating, though I usually want the salty taste, myself. I have done the “3-year” ferment on charred oak chips for special sauces, but really, a few days at warm temp makes a delightfully acidic yumminess, and creates lots of pro-biotic action.