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Chiles at Rushy Springs Farm

One of the most iconically-American (and especially Southern) condiments is salt-brine-fermented hot pepper sauce. Usually made from tobascos (the pepper variety, not the brand), this kitchen staple and table condiment is a snap to make, especially if you have a glut of chiles on hand. Here in East Tennessee, chile season is still in full swing, and many varieties thrive here. Despite, or rather because of this easy abundance (chiles were our most dependable crop this summer and last, outperforming our tomatoes by leaps and bounds), many chile growers do not know how to keep on top of utilizing their crop before it disappears.

Pickling, drying, and smoking are all very good options for preserving your garden's chile harvest, but each has special (and often prohibitive) requirements: shelf space, a dehydrating apparatus, and a smoker, respectively. Salt-brine-fermenting needs none of these, requiring only a tiny bit of counter space for a fermenting crock or jar, some salt, a stir every now and then, and some patience. As for the chiles, tabascos are great, but there are so many varieties out there. As long as they are yellow, orange, or red, ripe, and appropriately spicy for your palate, use whatever you have or can get your hands on.

Luckily, in addition to our harvest of red jalapeños and yellow aji limos, we have had the good fortune to become acquainted with Jim Smith, a local chile farmer and producer of fermented hot sauces. Jim inspired us to try our hand at this simple and rewarding process after many chats under his tent at the Market Square Farmer's Market in downtown Konxville. At any time, Jim has up to 14 different varieties of chiles for sale, ranging from the mild and unusual to the punishingly hot (Ghost and Scorpion chiles are his best sellers). He also offers a completely unique hybrid cultivar, the Tennessee Cherry Chile (a much more complexly-flavored cousin to the Yucatania and Tabasco varieties). In addition to having all of these available fresh from his farm every week, Jim keeps even busier with his growing salt-brine-fermented hot sauce business. If that wasn't enough, he also dehydrates a portion of his harvest, turning it into highly aromatic chile powder (including one made out of Boldog Paprika peppers).

Jim was kind enough to let us tour his operation in Talbott and give us some insight into how he ferments his sauces. One of the immediately unique standouts to his procedure: after stemming the chiles, they get brined in a mixture of unrefined salt and Reisling wine. The wine, of course, increases the amount of sugar available for fermentation. As for the unrefined salt, Jim claims fermentation is much more vigorous and complete when he uses it (which, he thinks, is due to the high mineral content). As for fermentation time, Jim has a very personal relationship with each batch. He tends them daily (sometimes hourly in their most active stages). If peppers rise to the surface, they get mashed back down. If any yeast starts to develop, he adds salt. As the chiles soften and disintegrate, he adds more chiles and more salt, continuing the fermentation until he feels it is complete. This can take four to six weeks, but each batch is different.

Since Jim and his delicious sauces and chiles have inspired this blog (as well as many a fine meal), we want to return his kindness and generosity by calling upon you, our readers, to help support Jim as he continues to sustainably grow chiles and turn a profit while complying with Tennessee's requirements regarding domestic food production. Acording to state inspectors, Jim needs to have a certified kitchen and meet many of the same requirements much larger, corporate-owned food producers are held to. In order to continue selling his sauce, Jim will have to spend money he does not have to abide by these regulations. All of this despite the fact that his sauces, by their very nature (highly acidic, capsaicin-rich) are antimicrobial and safe, and Jim himself oversees the entire process, from planting the chiles to bottling the sauce. The overhead required to convert a home kitchen into an approved domestic kitchen is prohibitive for small producers like Jim.

The beauty of Jim's Kickstarter campaign is that, if we all contribute a small amount, he can meet his goal in no time. For those of you unfamiliar with Kickstarter, it's an site where entrepreneurs can raise money with the help of their community, and contributors to the project receive a gift in proportion to the amount they pledge to the project. Think of it as venture capital 2.0. The entrepreneur picks the goal he wants to reach, and if he doesn't meet that goal, he gets none of the money pledged. If, however, he does meet the goal, the money that has been pledged becomes available for use by the entrepreneur for their project.

If you are in the Knoxville area, we emplore you to visit Jim's Kickstarter page, read about his plans to expand his business, and contribute to the campaign (even a dollar makes a difference!) and visit him at Market Square on a coming Saturday. For those of you who do not hail from East Tennessee, we hope you can identify with the plight of Jim's business, his dedication to quality, and his tireless search for the perfect capsacin rush. Please take a moment to make a difference in the life of a small farmer, and therefore, in his community.

Other articles you might enjoy: Brine-Fermented Sauerkraut, Fermented Half-Sour Pickles, Worcestershire Sauce

Fermented "Louisiana-style" Hot Sauce
varies according to amount of chiles

As our pepper fermentation expert says above, a lot of this is best done "by feel," and since the quantity of peppers a garden yields will vary widely (not to mention the width of fermentation vessels) we have decided to write this recipe using a simple weight ratio and a few instructive photos. As for the type of chiles to use, any kind will work as long as they are fairly hot and not green.

So, first you should cut off the stem and a little bit of the base of each chile and roughly chop them. We do this with gloves and a pair of kitchen shears, since it means minimal contact with the peppers and no surfaces to clean. Some of you might want to seed the chilies to get more flavor and less heat from them. Jim includes seeds in his method, we did not for our first go around. Either way is fine, just keep in mind seeding will expose you to more capsacin, which you should try as hard as you can not to get on your hands, eyes, or anywhere on your skin.

So snip off the stem-ends in the trash or compost, seed if you want, and then weigh the chilies in a bowl on a digital scale (I suppose you can just use the starting weight of the chiles if you do not choose to seed them). Remember this number and snip the chilies a slice at a time into your jar or crock. Now, take the weight of your chilies and weigh out 2% of that amount in salt, preferably sea salt (thanks Jim!). Add this to the jar/crock, along with enough white wine (prefereably a high-sugar Reisling or Gewürstraminer that is free of sulfites) to cover by a half inch or so. Mix and mash thoroughly with a pestle or wooden spoon (be sure to wash thoroughly).

Cover the crock or jar tightly with a cloth (I screwed on the ring of the mason jar I was using) and set out on the counter where you will see it. Now, when you're making coffee in the morning, check for white mold (this is where glass jars are clearly superior) and remove with a spoon, stir the chile mixture, and cover again with cloth. Do this every other day. You will eventually see bubbles forming either on the surface or in the pepper mash. This means it's working.

Jim and others ferment this mixture for as long as it takes for the fermentation to stop, up to 4 or 6 weeks. Our very successful batch of hot sauce took only 15 days to mature into a fruity, well-balanced sauce. I suppose you should play it be ear, but for those who are too impatient for the longer fermenting times, if you have noticed fermentation bubbles, you can and should take a risk somewhere around or after the two-week mark.

Now that the pepper mash is fermented to your liking, patience-level, or whim, all you need to do is run it through a food mill. Place the food mill over a bowl, pour the pepper mash and brine into the mill, and work the flesh and seeds, rotating the handle in both directions to push as much juice from the mash as possible (discard whatever is left). Measure the volume of the brine liquid and add half that amount of vinegar. Jim uses brown rice vinegar for its neutral flavor profile, but feel free to experiment here with a little addition of something more flavorful, like sherry or apple cider vinegar. You shouldn't really need to add salt at this point, but do so if it tastes a little one-dimensional. Bottle and refrigerate, adding to anything that needs a nice fruity shot of heat or salt. Enjoy!

Comments

meg's picture

It all depends--it may only take a few days, or it may take a week or more. Usually, fermentation occurs faster during the summer months. I would give it at least a week--if nothing is happening, consider adding some yogurt or active sauerkraut brine to jumpstart fermentation.
Anonymous's picture

If you really trust bloggers for food safety information then go for it, but all fermentation requirements can be found in Section 21 of the CFR. It's not complicated, just google search for crying out loud. These conversations are as entertaining as they are accurate.
john's picture

Yes, everything is knowable instantly if you're a smart ass.
Michelle's picture

HI Meg, First of all, thanks for the very descriptive comments. I've been reading them with great interest! My question is going back to the pasturization technique. Most blogs and the FDA site suggests 185F for 10 - 15 minutes. Would 165F still be okay? I've noticed that the color fades after boiling at 185F. Also, I had a question about the bottling process. Some suggest that you can flip the bottle to sanitize the cap " hold fill". Do you recommend this procedure or the boiling water bath after the sauce have been added and capped. Because holding the temperature to 180F, a gentle simmer, is causing the sauce to reduce and again, lose it's color... I hope I'm making much sense. But I look forward to hearing from you.
john's picture

The USDA has recently approved low-temperature pasteurization for pickled foods. The time and temperature they recognize as safe is 170-180F for 30 minutes. We have had great success with this, especially for keeping pickles crispy. If we recommend filling, capping, and then processing in hot water.
Michelle's picture

Hi John, Many thanks for your prompt response. In regards to sauces, I understand that ( in the case of Tabasco) they don't cook the sauces. Instead, they ferment them in oak barrels for 3-5years and bottled as is, without boiling them. How is this considered safe? Could high quantities of vinegar play a role here? Thanks again for your advice.
john's picture

Yes Michelle! Adding tons of vinegar stops fermentation and makes their product safe. Overall, there is very little risk with this type of sauce. It's quite salty and acidic. We recommend refrigeration, but, like Tabasco, it will probably keep just fine at room temperature after the vinegar has been added. Processing at the 170-180F temp for 30 minutes will ensure this, and we recommend doing it for prolonged storage, but it's a pretty inhospitable environment for bacteria to begin with, as the McIlhenny family has taught us for the last 150 years :-)
vic winkler's picture

It could well be that your peppers came from a source that irradiated them.
Brian Challender's picture

If my mash is risnig to the top of my gallon jar and I'm mixing the mash which does has bubbles 2-3 times a day, is this what the normal process of fermentation? As you can tell with my questions, I am new to fermentation.
meg's picture

Yes! That's perfectly normal. What's happening is the carbon dioxide bubbled being produced are forcing the mash to the top of the jar. Just keep pushing the peppers down. Eventually, when fermentation slows, this won't happen anymore. Congrats, though! Your pepper mash is fermenting like gangbusters!
Brian C's picture

That's great to hear!!!! Thank you for replying so promptly
Tom's picture

Hi Fred, I'm working on my first attempt, had a similar problem. I blended red peppers and scotch bonnet peppers up fairly fine with seeds, mash weight 1 lb 10 Ounces, used 2% by weight sea salt, and a bottle of Riesling wine. After 4 days no action. I stirred in 1 tsp fresh Greek yogurt and a tsp of the whey. On day 5, still no action, and I was impatient, so I stirred in 1-2 TBSP liquid of a fast bubbling batch of Kim Chi I had going. BOOM. In 12 hours it looked like a soft drink -- It was bubbling so much that it floated the pulp to the top of the semi-clear wine. The floating pulp had so much gas in it, it looked like the side of a kitchen sponge. I've been stirring it up every 6 hours or so and it will separate to a sponge again and is still bubbling on day 10. I tested the pH and it's lower than the 4.5 my pH strips will go. I tried 2-3 drops on a spoon and it made my cheek bones sweat. Can't wait to see what happens! Good luck, I hope you get yours working. Tom
carrie's picture

Does the wine have to be white? Could you use a cabernet sauvignon, one that is sweet-ish? I have an abundance of Czechoslovakian black peppers that I would like to try this with, but no white wine in the house...
john's picture

Why not? The wine is there for the sugar and flavor (you can do the ferment with water alone). If you think the cab and black peppers will go well together, by all means try it and tell us how it goes. Never had Czechoslovakian black peppers... jealous!
Cohen's picture

Red wines generally contain very little to no fermentable sugars at bottling. However, commercially produced wines have hydrogen sulfide [often referred to as a "sulfites"]. While useful for controlling microbiologic critters and keeping your corks from blowing out and making a mess, it *could* slow down or prevent your ferment from taking off if you were too generous with it. Sweeter whites and desert wines might be a better choice, but I would wonder if\when the alcohol content could become an issue? Don't foget that sulfites at the right dilution will limit the lactobaccilicus while having no effect on other, perhaps less desirable, neighbors from moving in... My advise would be to consider skipping the red wine until the ferment is over. Then simmer the mix for a good long while to kill any residual microbiological growth before refrigerating or (pressure) canning the sauce. Unless you're testing the ph, you won't know if your recipe is suitable for shelf storage anyway, and that is not something you want to find out the hard way. (Plus, let's be honest: you've almost certainly got plenty of probiotics crawling about and doing unmentionable things in your intestines already anyway...) Please feel free to take my thoughts and toss them out th window. My only qualification is that I ferment lots of stuff, I even culture my own yeast strains for brewing and wne making, and they haven't gotten me yet! Cheers!
ryan's picture

What are your thoughts on keeping the fermentation in the dark or in a light filled area? Preference, and why either is chosen would be helpful. Ive started one recently and have left it on the kitchen counter. A friend has also started one and is keeping his in a dark space except to check up on it. Both seem to be doing well but are only a week old.
john's picture

Cool and dark is preferable, but I never forget to check the ferment if it's on the countertop.
Cara's picture

A question about the fermenting stage: Once the bubbles start to form I should wait another couple of weeks before bottling? I made an error in the first two weeks of the "mashing" stage. I put the wine, salt, and peppers into a glass jar with a thin cloth over the mouth and then sealed it! It sat like this for 2 weeks until I realized my mistake. I popped the top, stirred in a teaspoon of yogurt, and 1 week later I'm seeing bubbles. By now (since I'm at the 3 week point) the pepper flesh has melted away from the skins and it smells wonderful (tastes mighty good, too!) Do you suggest that I let it ferment for another week or can I already bottle? Thank you!
john's picture

You can wait for the mash to stop bubbling, but if it tastes good now, feel free to bottle it. The vinegar and extra salt will arrest fermentation, so no need to worry about fizzy hot sauce. Good luck!
Cara's picture

All bottled up! It's beautiful and balanced. I'm wondering though (since I have hot peppers galore) how I can make my next batch a bit thicker. Is it just wishful thinking? Also: Does anyone have experience adding xanthan gum?
dawn oftel's picture

Please, keep all the information coming my way.
Andrew's picture

Like Cara, I added a tiny bit of yogurt to jump start fermentation. Nothing was happening after 2 weeks, but I have a batch of red and a batch of green bubbling away now. Both are starting to show some white mold too (non-fuzzy, looks sort of like flour sprinkled over the surface). Question: I can't get all of the mold off. Is it okay if a little bit gets stirred back in and is it still safe to eat? I'm hoping to give small bottles of this stuff to relatives at the holidays, and I don't want upset stomachs.
john's picture

You are in good company Andrew. The thin film of white freaked me out the first time too (it's not actually mold, but a type of yeast). Just scrape it off as best you can, stir, and keep an eye out for anything puffy, fuzzy, or colorful.
Sean's picture

My mash has been brewing for almost 2 weeks. I have some white stuff that I spoon off every 2 days or so then I stir.The mash is higher than the liquid. Theres a space between the bottom of the mash and the liquid so the top of the mash isn't covered by the wine. It's still bubbling so I guess things are happening. It smells sour but not offensive. It tastes ok, I think the vinegar will help. Does it sound like I'm doing it right?
john's picture

Sounds good to me! As long as the white stuff isn't fuzzy or chunky (which means mold, not harmless yeast). The chiles/mash wants to float... you can weight it down I suppose, but skimming off yeast and stirring works like a charm. Tell us how it turns out!
GNJK's picture

I have not had the issue of mould, I use an airlock for all my ferments and it works a treat. The escaping CO2 stops any mould in the space between the airlock and the contents. Airlocks are cheap. Also I put ferments into a food grade plastic tub, I cut a hole to fit the bung using a dril but a knife would just about do it. Kimchi (delicious) pickles its all good. I especially like fermented daikon with garlic and onions. I am currently makingabtach of mixed colour chilli.
john's picture

Jealous! We have yet to acquire an airlock, or one of those awesome crocks with the water seal around the rim... Hopefully, when we have a little more space, we'll be able to have more ferments going. A batch of daikon kimchi sounds wonderful right now! White or red?
Mike Broderick's picture

Airlocks are easy to find. Any home-brew beer supply house (Rebel Brewer, etc) has cheap plastic ones for a few bucks. For fermenting, I use large (one and two gallon) mason jars and I use large glass marbles slightly smaller then the neck of the jars to weigh down the mash. Google is your friend :)
john's picture

Jealous! We have yet to acquire an airlock, or one of those awesome crocks with the water seal around the rim... Hopefully, when we have a little more space, we'll be able to have more ferments going. A batch of daikon kimchi sounds wonderful right now! White or red?
GNJK's picture

Airlock are cheap. Get yourself an airlock. Amazon, at least in the Uk sell these for so little. A tub is free, forget the crock unless you like the look of them. I have had more reliable results with an airlock. I also bought several 5 litres foodgrade tubs from amazon with lids for a few pounds. Best buy ever. As to space, move out things to make space. I have batches of garlic as well, OMG fermented Garlic - now we are talking. :)
john's picture

Easier said than done! We recently moved two fully-equipped kitchens and a mammoth cookbook collection into a "two-bedroom" apartment (actually one, but the living room has a door on it). Don't worry though: the siren-song of fermenting garlic, kimchee, sauerkraut, pepper sauce, half-sour dills, etc. will be heeded... at some point. Hey, think you could share a link to the airlocks you've had so much luck with? Never hurts to daydream about our future, smelly fermentation lair!
Jody McFarland's picture

Airlock question - I am familiar with brewing beer in a carboy, so I immediately loved the idea of using an airlock for this project. That beings said, I'm sitting here after making my pepper mash and realize I followed "bottling type instructions" for my container with airlock and used "Star San" sanitizer on all pieces. I'm wondering if this was a mistake? Where is the bacteria (that feeds on the sugar in the wine) going to come from for the fermentation? In the OP an airlock is not used and I assume the bacteria in that method comes from the air even though a cloth is over the jar. However, since I am locking out all outside air and killed all the natural bacteria in the container (via sanitizer) am I going to get fermentation at all? Or is the bacteria going to be produce from the pepper itself? Thank you for the help and for this page. I'm having fun with it regardless and using Pardon peppers from our garden. Jody
GNJK's picture

No issue for the bacteria, it is in the peppers. You could adda tablespoon of whey but its not needed. You want to keep out the undesirable bacteria that pass by over time and most important keep out the oxegen. Once it ferments the CO2 will push out the O2 keeping you ferment happy and clean. regards
Laurence's picture

If I wanted to add garlic to make a Franks Red Hot style sauce, when in the process would be best? Ferment it along with the chillies or add some puree at the end?
john's picture

Sorry about the delay Laurence... we have done both and I really don't think it makes too much of a difference. You might have a bit more control over the flavors by waiting until the end. For good measure, I would make sure the garlic is well-pureed and at least briefly cooked.
Rob's picture

I just finished making my first batch of fermented hot sauce. Used red seranos and habaneros. Came out very good and very hot. I will try the wine and salt this time and see how it tastes. Thanks for the good measurement advice too!!!!
Colin Remas Brown's picture

This page is really helpful! I'm currently fermenting two lbs of whole habaneros in a large ceramic crock for six weeks. My final goal is to create a few bottles of fiery habanero hot sauce using only three ingredients: habaneros, maldon sea salt, and Braggs apple cider vinegar. My questions is if I run the two lbs of habaneros through a food mill will these thin waxy peppers create any juice? I'd prefer a habanero hot sauce that's free of seeds. I will find out quickly whether fermented habaneros create juice (maybe the fermenting process will make them juicier?) but if not I want a back up plan... Something like just blend the whole habaneros in a food processor pour into bottles... but then I get seeds. I just don't want to end up heating/cooking the peppers as most recipes call for as the whole point was to ferment them and I feel like cooking them after all that would be just weird. Any ideas of what to expect? The bottling date is 12/22/14. Thanks!
john's picture

Exciting! Honestly Colin, I've never done habaneros... as you can see from the pictures, we prefer using fleshier chiles. That being said, Jim (our hot sauce guru) does habaneros, scotch bonnets, scorpions, and bhut jolokia ferments all the time with great success. Of course, he adds sweet white wine to kickstart his ferments, which provides most of the "juice"/brine for the hot sauce. Wine is definitely optional, but you're going to want to add some water or some other non-acidic liquid for the ferment to work properly. About backup plans, since the seeds are already in the ferment, it's going to be hard to get them out without some food mill magic. I would just stick with the plan... About heating the sauce up: I've done it before and its not the end of the world, but it won't cause the habaneros to gush juices. Does that help? Let us know how things turn out!
Greg's picture

Hi again,John! Unfortunately I couldn't find any Xanthan Gum and I really need something to thicken my sauce.What do you think of using potato or corn starch instead of xanthan?
john's picture

Hey Greg. I hate to say this, but simmering and reducing the sauce is probably going to be a better option than thickening with potato or corn starch. You can always try it on a small portion of your sauce, but remember: you have to whisk them into a slurry first and both require heat to begin thickening. They will definitely make the sauce cloudier and might add an unwanted flavor to it as well. One thing you could try: pour a 1/4 or more of the sauce into a saucepan, slowly reduce the crap out of it, and add it back in. This will thicken it while preserving more flavor. Warning: this will fumigate your kitchen with noxious pepper-spray-like fumes. If you can, do it on a hot plate or gas burner outside. Barring that, make sure your kitchen is extremely well-ventilated. Better yet, overnight some xanthan gum from amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bobs-Red-Mill-Xanthan-8-Ounce/dp/B0013JJZWG You could still get it before Christmas!
Juan Carlos Francisco IV's picture

Enjoyed reading this quite a bit. I've been growing peppers and making sauces for the past 5 years or so, but never tried fermenting them. Wish I had tried earlier this season as we have had TONS of peppers. In any case, I have one going now that I just started. Look forward to the results. Curious, for people who add garlic and other ingredients, do you add it at the fermentation stage? or afterwards? Also, as for when it's finished, do you boil it or just straight into a jar? Thanks in advance, JCF IV
Lindsay's picture

I made this with bell peppers and ghost chilies. It has been sitting for over a month and I have never seen any bubbles...Have you ever had this problem? Not sure what happened. Any suggestions are welcome, thanks!
john's picture

Sorry for the delayed response Lindsay... If you haven't noticed any activity, I would throw it out. Sad, but better safe than sorry. Your ferment might have failed for a variety of reasons... I take it you followed the directions above?
Preston's picture

I have been growning peppers for about 2 or 3 years now and recently have decided I want to experiment with some sauces. I started fermenting some peppers but really don't know that much about it. I have started the process in jars and over the last couple of days the peppers have risen to the top. I have read a little about the process and my concern is about Botulimun Toxin. What steps are to be taken to eliminate this possiblity? What causes it so I can avoid that?
john's picture

Hello Preston. Botulism --and the paralysis-causing toxin it produces-- is always a serious concern for home canners, and I can understand why a little internet research would make you nervous. Clostridium Botulinum thrives in low-acid, anaerobic (oxygen-deprived) environments that are not very salty and relatively free of other competing organisms. The fermentation taking place in the pepper mash is the result of another, much friendlier organism (lactobacillus) metabolizing the sugars in the peppers, thereby producing lactic acid. This is what gives fermented foods their delicious, tangy flavor. As these bacteria metabolize more and more sugar, they lower the pH of the mash, thereby making the environment inhospitable for other, less-friendly organisms like C. botulinum. Of course, adding all of the vinegar after the ferment is over makes the sauce even more inhospitable to C. botulinum. So, to recap, if your ferment looks active and healthy the pH will be low enough to prevent botulism spores from growing. Adding vinegar--though done for tartness and flavor--provides an extra level of insurance. That being said, the botulism threat is real for unfermented, improperly-processed canned goods, mostly due to its resistance to heat. C. botulinum can survive at boiling-water temperatures for upwards of 11 hours (!), at which point all of its competitors have been wiped out. If you are just canning peppers (without fermenting first), be sure to follow safe canning procedures... we have scientifically-based, up-to-date guidelines for safe canning in the "Canning, Salting, Smoking, and Drying" chapter of the JOY. If you don't have a copy yet, the National Center for Home Food Preservation maintains an excellent website (http://nchfp.uga.edu/). For more information on botulism, please visit the Center for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/botulism/ and http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/files/botulism.PDF) or this excellent page hosted by Colorado State's Extension program (http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09305.html). Also, for a little perspective on the common fears associated with botulism and fermenting, you might feel better after reading this post on Sandor Katz's website (http://www.wildfermentation.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=3654). Speaking of Sandor Katz, his book "The Art of Fermentation" is a wonderful resource on the subject. Hope all of this helps! Best, John.
tony's picture

Hi, I initially added enough wine to cover the peppers. Now the peppers are floating and there is about an inch and 1/2 to 2 inches of just wine at the bottom. should I pour some out? did i add too much? or will it evaporate a bit? it took a while but things are bubbling nicely now thanks in advance TONY
tony's picture

hi, i have a hot sauce fermenting. when i initially put the wine in if filled it to cover the peppers. but now they have floated up and there is about 2 inches of wine at the bottom . should i pour some out?
meg's picture

Hi Tony, this is actually just fine. You don't need to pour any of the wine off. As the peppers ferment and break down, their volume decreases a bit and they give off liquid. No worries.
Tony's picture

Thanks Meg. I guess my question is more about the color. with too much wine (theoretically) will my hot sauce not be as red as I hope it will? i tasted some and i know it's going to taste great, but was hoping for a more robust color. will it possibly get more red when i food mill it? thanks again
meg's picture

It should be quite red when you run it through the food mill. I'm assuming you're using all red peppers? I mean, if you really want, you could pour off some of the wine--it won't hurt to do that. Another option would be to continue fermenting, and when you run it through the food mill if it isn't red to your liking, you could add some paprika or smoked paprika to add color without interfering too much with the flavor (and I can only imagine that smoked paprika would be delicious in a hot sauce!).

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Add to a pint-sized Mason jar:
           3/4 cup of your favorite, flavorful extra-virgin olive oil
            1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice...