Wild fermented hot sauce

Making your own wild fermented hot sauce or salsa is fairly simple. I use a few special things to make it a bit easier but they’re not strictly necessary. You can easily make this with equipment you likely have around the house. If you’ve fermented your own sauerkraut before then this process will look very familiar to you.

Basically choose what you think you’d like to have in your salsa/sauce. Understand that the lacto fermentation will add some sourness and possibly some fruity flavors to the final product. It will also reduce some of the heat of your peppers. The simplest recipe would just contain hot peppers and salt.

For my most recent creation I wanted to try incorporating pineapple into the ferment, hoping to retain a bit of it’s sweetness in the final product. I used:

  • 1lb jalapenos
  • 1 12oz can of chopped pineapple
  • a few cloves of garlic
  • half of a sweet onion
  • salt

I diced every thing up and added them to a self-burping fermentation jar. I weighed the jar first so that I could get a measurement of the weight of the ingredients after they’d been added to the jar. After weighing the ingredients (minus the salt) I added 2.5% of the ingredient weight in salt, sealed the jar and shook it up to distribute the salt and mix the ingredients. If you don’t have a scale to weigh out the ingredients you can just sorta guess with the salt, for a full quart jar of veggies to be fermented, use 1 tablespoon of salt. After shaking it all up I used a spatula to push any ingredients stuck to the sides of the jar back down and pressed everything down a little bit to make sure it was submerged slightly under a bit of brine that was being extracted out of the peppers, onion and pineapple (not to mention the syrup that came with the pineapple). Don’t worry too much about getting it submerged but you don’t want big chunks sticking out as they could grow mold.

I sealed the jar and left it in my office. Within a few days I could see that it was fermenting and had formed a bit of a pellicle on the surface. I let it go for a couple of weeks, the pellicle formed a few bubbles but there was no vigorous activity. This is what I was hoping for. I was slightly concerned that with the extra sugar from the pineapple that some yeast might take hold and ferment all of the sugar out completely. A vigorous ferment would indicate that this had happened. Lacto is generally a pretty low key fermentor, but it does generally form a thin pellicle so you can see that something is happening. Another nice thing about lacto is that it’s fairly lazy and it generally will not ferment all of the sugar available to it, or at least it will take its sweet time in doing so.

I left the jar to ferment for a few weeks. I mostly ignored it but every now and then the jar would burp itself and I’d get a whiff of fruity jalapeno heat as I was working. After I’d let it sit around for long enough (how long you let it go is really up to your discretion, some people only lactoferment veggies for a few days, some go for months) I took a taste and it was spicy with an underlying sweetness. I emptied the jar into a blender and ran it until everything was pretty well liquified. This turned it into a salsa of sorts, but without the chunks. If you want a hot sauce a la tobasco instead of blending you’ll want to press all of the liquid out and separate it from the solids. You could achieve this by wrapping it in a tea towel and squeezing it or hanging it somewhere to slowly drip into a container. I prefer to just blend mine, it’s easy and it tastes good.