Fermentation: Red Death Sauce

The last few weeks have been hectic, Fall traffic in my area is awful until after Halloween and then it calms down. My usual easy ten-minute commute has blossomed into a longer more stressful 20 minutes.

Despite life’s lengthy commute, the ferments continue. Bacteria chew through the sugars on their own time frame.

Case in point, my “Red Death Sauce” decided it was done this week. Although you can leave a ferment for longer, I’m in need of sauce. My peach cayenne sauce is nearly finished. Made with a bell pepper base, garlic, and some Thai hybrid and habanero chilis the initial mash tasted like fire upon the tongue. It was so hot when I put it into its fermentation chamber it had no flavor but heat. The ferment mellowed that out.

Unlike other sauces, I began around the same day this fermented fast. It started within days and the LAB churned through the sugars. The airlock bubbled constantly, then calmed down, and the mash reached a Ph of about 3.

The whole jar was dumped into the blender. Next time I would reserve some of the liquid at the bottom for inoculation of my next ferment. The final product is a tad bit watery. I think it would be better if I had a more powerful blender.

The final sauce is sweet, sour, mellow, and hot. It’s not quite as hot as it was when I first dumped everything into the fermentation chamber. I’d rate it as sriracha hot.

The recipe for this one is simple:

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 4 thai chilis, also called bird’s eye, these were very hot hybrids
  • 2 habaneros
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 c brine from another ferment to inoculate
  • 3% salt by weight of ingredients (minus vinegar and inoculant)

Deseed and chop the bell peppers. remove the white pith from inside. This tends to get bitter in the ferment. remove stem from chilis. I deseeded all but 2 of my chilis. The ribs tend to hold most of the heat. I only removed any that were white and not fully ripe. Peel and crush the garlic. Rough chop all of this, add to a blender.

Weigh the ingredients and figure out the salt amount. Multiply the weight by .03 to get a 3% brine.

Blitz until chunky. I used the inoculant as my liquid to get the blender to behave. The bell peppers were juicy enough once blitzed that I needed no more liquid.

Pour all of this into a clean sanitized fermentation chamber. Clean any stray puree from sides and lip of jar. I use a sanitized and salted cupcake liner pressed into the top of the mash to help prevent kahm’s yeast and mold. Thus far this seems to work very well. Clean the threads and rim of the jar and put on a lid with an airlock or one-way valve.

Be sure to label your ferment with content and date. You’ll want to let this go at least 2 weeks, and if your’s is slow maybe 4 or even 5 weeks. remember that with hot sauce, a longer ferment is okay. It continues to mellow and taste better as it ages.

Once the ferment is finished, you can use this as-is, but I like it blitzed until smooth-ish. Mine has a few chunks here and there. You want it to flow in and out of a jar with ease.

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