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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!


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!).
Tony's picture

Sorry one more question.. why do we add vinegar at the end?
meg's picture

No worries, Tony. The vinegar serves to balance the flavor and make a Louisiana-style hot sauce (think Tabasco, which is pretty vinegary--we think this hot sauce turns out to be better than Tabasco, fyi). It also adds another level of insurance if you want to bottle this sauce and store it at room temperature. The reason we don't add it earlier in the process is that it can hamper fermentation, and we want all the complex flavors that fermentation adds. However, you should feel free to do your own thing. If you love the flavor after fermentation and don't think it needs any vinegar, then don't add any. If you think it needs a little sugar, add some sugar. There's no ultimate hot sauce recipe--it all depends on what flavor you want in the final product.
Greg 's picture

I'm about to embark on my first run of home-made sauce. I've always bought a good base and Amped it up from there. Going for a nice serrano / habanero sauce. Then use that as my base sauce for other blends. Wish me luck :)
meg's picture

Good luck, Greg! Let us know how it turns out.
Drew's picture

Hi, I have followed the instructions to a T however have a lot of mould growing. If I stir it every other day almost the entire surface is white. The ferment Is only 1 week old. Should I bin this batch and try again? What do you suggest I do differently ?
meg's picture

Hi Drew. Odd as it may sound, white mold is perfectly normal. It is not dangerous or unpalatable. Simply scrape the mold off the top, and keep stirring every day. If you can find a way to keep the chiles completely submerged under the brine, that would help a bit, but the white mold is simply something that happens during the fermentation process. Sometimes the mold is more prolific than others, but as long as it is white (if you have black mold growing, toss the batch) you're fine. Have you noticed any bubbling? Can you tell if it has begun to ferment?
Drew's picture

Hi Meg, good news! Yes it definitely has started to bubble. Some recipes recommend sealing (covered with cloth as recommended) the bottles once fermentation starts as the co2 build up retards mold growth? It's now about 10 days old and I tasted it and it seems a little bitter? How do I know I know if it's gone bad?
meg's picture

What kind of peppers did you use? That might have something to do with the bitterness. It's also possible, though, that this bitterness will mellow over time. Your ferment is relatively young, so I would let it continue to ferment. Since you've got active fermentation going, it's unlikely that the mixture has gone bad. If it were totally stagnant and growing blackish mold, I would say to toss it. You can also tell by the smell if it's gone bad or not--if it smells like rotting vegetables, you'll want to throw it out. However, once fermentation starts, the acidity of the mixture increases, making the growth of other, harmful bacteria unlikely. It sounds like your ferment is going, so you're probably in the clear. I would just be patient and wait. Let us know if you have any more questions.
Tony's picture

Hi, I have just started experimenting with these. I'm wondering if anyone has come up with a tried and true recipe yet. i am just experimenting but here is my experience: I have tried one with a bunch of hot thai peppers and red anaheim peppers (and some red jalapeños). Let them ferment for about 6 weeks. mid fermentation i tasted it and it was amazing. zesty and delicious. after it stopped fermenting i kept it going (wasn't sure what i was doing). then stopped and added the vinegar recommended. i feel like the vinegar ruined it. way too much (with all due respect). wished i had stopped and bottled earlier, and added way less vinegar. that's just in terms of my taste. 2nd experience: did an all habanero one (probably crazy i know) with roasted garlic added. this one i stopped earlier - near the end of the fermentation when there were very few bubbles and it seemed to be slowing way down (i'd say 4 weeks). added very little vinegar. sauce seems much better but the only thing - and i guess this is a no brainer - is it's REALLY F'ING HOT. even for me. i'm a hot sauce crazy person. i want to keep experimenting and i'm thinking i'll do a blend of some hot (but not too hot) red peppers and maybe some regular peppers (sweet bell or whatever) and some garlic (think that added a nice dimension). anyway, just sharing my experiences. curious if anyone has a set recipe they use that they've found to be perfect cheers
john's picture

Sorry the vinegar ratio wasn't to your liking Tony. It's a lot of time to put into something you're not happy with! Jim, the chile fanatic we visited, was aiming for one style of sauce in particular: the salt and vinegar-heavy Louisiana stuff made by Tabasco, Crystal, etc. He would vary the peppers used quite a bit--everything from Bhut Jolokias, Scorpions, and Habaneros to Aji Amarillos and "fruitier" types. Some of them were incredibly hot, especially with the amplifying effect of all that vinegar... not for every palate. If you want to make a thicker, less punchy sauce, I can highly recommend the Sriracha recipe we tested (, which has tons of garlic, calls for red fresnos (a milder chile), and sticks to a more conventional recipe format. Good luck!
Tony's picture

Thanks John. Cheers
Brad's picture

I had a bit of a fuzzy mold starting on top after about 5 days... barely noticeable but still there... I removed the mold and added some whey. Should I toss it or continue?
meg's picture

Hi Brad, A little white mold is not a problem and is perfectly normal. Just scrape it off, give the pepper mixture a good stir, and keep going.
Ramon's picture

Hi John!! After following the whole process of fermentation and adding vinegar to the extracted sauce, what is the shelf life of the hot sauce in room temp??.... thanks a lot
john's picture

We recommend storing the hot sauce in the refrigerator simply for food safety reasons. In the fridge, it will keep indefinitely. The acidity should make it safe to store at room temperature, but because everyone's batch is bound to be different and we can't verify the acidity of your batch, we recommend refrigeration.
alex's picture

Do i have to cover the jar with a cloth with mason jar lid. If so, what kind of cloth do i need
john's picture

Alex, you want the ferment to be able to "breathe," so to speak, so covering it with cloth is a great and inexpensive way to do that. You can use any clean cloth--we use a piece of flour sack towel. It's fairly thin, but not as thin or porous as cheesecloth. So, you could use a scrap of thin fabric or towel and secure it with the jar ring. You could also use a rubber band to hold the cloth in place--you just want to be sure that the carbon dioxide created by the fermentation process can escape, but that nothing (i.e. fruit flies) can get into the jar.
Dennis's picture

Hi all : Have been making lactic fermented kimchee, various surplus garden vegetables, for a few years. Use kitchen food processor, 2% salt, press down into large mouth jar, add water, only if necessary. use 2 new plastic bags, 1 inside the other, with water inside, to provide a flexible seal, to protect lactic fermentation, NO MOULD, or waste. Keeps, raw, in sterilized jars, 1 year in fridge. Plan to use same procedure on some lemon drop aji chillies, tomorrow, deseeded, to make a hot fermented sauce. Cheers, Dennis, Kaiwaka, New Zealand.
Celine's picture

I started some green pepper mash about 3 weeks ago. The first day I saw no bubbles, so I added some whey that had separated from my yogurt. It still didn't start, so i put some cabbage leaves on top, whole, this was for two reasons 1. My sauerkraut has always started, 2. I thought that if mold grew on the leaves of the cabbage, i could simply remove them and my hot sauce would be protected (this technique works great with sauerkraut) but the ferment still didn't start. So, 3 weeks later i have no bubbles and no mold growth, even on the top cabbage leaves. The smell is slightly sour... I have a pH meter, but didn't measure the initial pH so would measuring it now be useful? If so, what pH should reassure me at this point (i read that you wrote that green chilies ferment slower than red) and what should convince me to throw in the towel? If i throw this mash away, can i put it in my compost heap or will that screw it all up? Thanks for all of this great info!
meg's picture

Just for future reference--you're unlikely to see active fermentation the first day anyway. Sometimes it takes a little while to get going, especially during certain seasons and climates. You want the pH to be below 4.6. The farmer and hot saucier we featured in this story sometimes saw the pH of his chiles get down to 3.5, but really you're just aiming for below 4.6. Remember also that you do add some vinegar to this sauce, which will make it even more acidic. Try a little taste and see what it's like. It sounds like, if the pH is indeed at 4.6 or lower, maybe your batch has fermented, just not as visibly. I would only throw in the towel if you don't like the taste. Even if your batch isn't at 4.6, add vinegar and season as you like (maybe a little sugar) and store refrigerated. If you don't like the way it tastes, you can definitely throw it on the compost heap. It shouldn't be so acidic that it will kill your compost. Good luck!
Celine's picture

First off thank you so much for your previous reply, unfortunately I ended up tossing the green pepper mash. I think I started it when it was still too cold out, I may try again later in the season. I started some red pepper mash 9 days ago, and it looks like fermentation is already stopping...That seems really fast though, is it just slowing down? The mash has been rising up out of the liquid up until this morning, and I noticed on one of my jars that it looks like there is a whitish film on top. I thought that it was a little mold, but looking at it again this afternoon, I wonder if it is yeast? Would yeast interrupt fermentation prematurely? Would I be able to smell it? You mentioned that Jim adds salt in the case of yeast, so I am wondering if I should add salt, let it keep going or accept that I had a strong and fast fermentation that is over? Thanks again for answering everyone's questions, this is great!!
meg's picture

It is certainly possible that your batch of pepper sauce is done fermenting after 9 days. We experienced some very fast fermentation when we were making pepper sauce regularly. Fermentation cycles can vary tremendously. The white film is probably mold--you'd be able to smell yeast. When yeasts convert sugars into energy, alcohol is the byproduct. When bacteria convert sugars to energy, lactic acid is the byproduct. Your ferment should smell sharp and acidic, but not like alcohol. White mold is harmless. Simply scrape it off and proceed. I think you're ready to move to the next step of making hot sauce! Good luck!
Thomas Henshaw's picture

So I followed the recipe to the letter, although I may have added 3% salt rather than 2% by mistake. Fermentation started, it bubbled away quite politely in the corner. After 10 days, no bubbles. This seems a little too quick. Is it done or is it dead? Should I try to start a second ferment in the jar with whey or flowers or should I just bottle and enjoy?
meg's picture

Hi Thomas. It sounds like the fermentation is done. Sometimes it happens faster than others. I would just bottle it and enjoy!
thomas's picture

Will G's picture

I sure am glad I found this blog. Now I have someone to discuss my new hobby with. I am fairly new to this. My 1st mash was just 1 lb or red habaneros. I did it for 5 weeks using 3.3% salt and I just stirred the white suff back in (as per another web site).. This batch released very little liquid. The finished product turned out quite well and as stated above the white mold is harmless. I did seed the peppers but left the placentas in place thereby retaining most of the heat. No need to run it through a mill as I like the pulp. I could have run it through a blender to break it down even more. My 2nd batch was about 4lb of Fresno pepper. Same ratio of salt, I fermented for 3 weeks and did not seed them but put it through a strainer afterwards. This batch released way more liquid but I kept less solids since I strained it. On my 3rd batch using 4lb of red habaneros down to 2.5 lb after seeding. For some reason the hab's don't release much liquid at all.
meg's picture

Hi Will! We're happy you found us! We're not fermentation gurus by any means, but we've had quite a bit of luck with it and really enjoy the process. It is certainly true that the thinner-fleshed peppers like habaneros tend not to release much liquid when compared to fleshier ones like jalapenos or serranos. But even the season, rainfall, etc. can effect how much liquid vegetables give off. Sometimes, when I make sauerkraut, the cabbage gives off enough water to submerge itself, and other times I have to add brine to cover it depending on how dry the cabbage is. It sounds like your pepper sauce experiments have been going very well. It might be interesting for you to try to source some of the more unusual peppers. If you have the space, you might even try growing them. Peppers grow fairly abundantly, especially in warmer climates. Let us know how your experiments go!
Will's picture

Thanks for the reply. As a matter of fact I have a new crop of Red Bhut Jolokia (Ghost), Dorset Naga, Red Fatalii and some Thai Hot's going right now. I have several of each. Probably about a month old. Although these peppers are the superhots and way too hot for most folks I think that fermenting them and diluting the mash with vinegar and other flavors would make them perfectly fine for some very tasty (and spicy) sauces.
Tyrrell's picture

Thanks for all the information! I have a gallon of red bubbling away right now...can't wait to try it! I wanted to add a little tip...for those of you that don't have access to an airlock, you can just run a clean tube ( like the one used for fish tanks) from a hole in the lid to a jar of water. Just make sure the end is submerged and the water doesn't evaporate completely.
Thomas Henshaw's picture

I recently transfered what I thought was a dead ferment into a new fermenting bottle with an airlock. Hey presto! Its going crazy now. Been fermenting for about a month now. No sign of stopping yet! When it does stop does anyone have any tips on bottling? Not sure what im going to use yet. Its a very thin sauce so I was thinking of using 100ml dropper bottles. Either that or reusing old hot sauce bottles. Any ideas, experience or othetwise? Also any thoughts on sterilization for dropper bottles etc... is it necessary with all that vinegar?
meg's picture

Hi Thomas! Dropper bottles are great. The last time we made a big batch of sauce for gifts, we bought bottles through Sunburst Bottle online--they have good prices and a nice selection. We also like to reuse old hot sauce bottles with regulator caps. That way, you won't accidentally soak your food in really hot sauce. Sterilizing the bottles is probably overkill, but we recommend doing it anyway just to be safe. Simply clean the bottles with soap and hot water. Rinse them well. Then boil them in a water bath just like you would for canning projects. Let them air dry completely, the fill with sauce.
thomas henshaw's picture

Thanks Meg!
Will's picture

I finally broke down and ordered a couple of dozen woozy bottles with caps and the orifice reducers. What was stopping me was the shipping cost which gets lower the more you order. With one dozen it is too expensive but with two dozen the total came out to be $26.22 or $1.09 per bottle. That's because I dont live close any major distributor. In case any one want to know I ordered from Fillmore container out of Lancaster PA.
meg's picture

Thanks for the tip, Will. You can always use other types of bottles for your pepper sauce, but those nice woozy bottles are just perfect. Especially if you're planning to give hot sauce as gifts.
Vicfitti's picture

15 years ago but I have made ​​my sauce "Tabasco type" at home here in Brazil. See the recipe facílima: Caught after taking peppers and green stalks put them in a blender, if they are dry I put a little water. I put a tablespoon of salt ('ll end up with poor aerobic bacteria) and two tablespoons of sugar (will feed the good bacteria Anaerobic). I put the juice from the peppers inside a PET soda bottle that was previously sterilized with ozone water. Squeeze this PET gararafa kneaded it to come out as much oxygen in it and with it so kneaded put your original cover. After some time (days) will embarking upon fermentation (which is perceived by the balls rise to the surface of the sauce) and PET bottle will start to inflate its original form and then, with the lid up, you should unscrew it slightly relieving pressure. When bubbles cease to appear is because the sauce is ready. Take the bottle the sauce and put white vinegar to taste wine (it will make for fermentation if it is still continuing). See photos in # p397308 IS VERY GOOD, try ... :)
meg's picture

Thank you so much for sharing! Sounds like a great technique!
Vicfitti's picture

Hi Meg, thank you for your attention. The method is so simple, nice, clean and efficient than a microbiologist at the Universidade Estadual de Minas Gerais (MG Brazil) to meet him, adopted to replace their academic method.
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
meg's picture

Jody, you should be just fine with the airlock setup. In spite of your studious sanitizing (which is a good thing--you don't want any bad bacteria in there), lactic acid bacteria will still flourish. These bacteria are anaerobic. They can survive in the presence of oxygen, but they are technically anaerobic. These bacteria (and some yeasts) are everywhere, including on your peppers. I would be very surprised if your peppers don't start to ferment. Let me know how things progress. Sometimes the ferment takes longer to get started, and sometimes it begins almost immediately.
Jody McFarland's picture

Meg, Thank you so much for your confirmation on this. I feel much better using the sanitation solution because of past home-brew mistakes and I really didn't want to waste all these wonderful peppers from our garden. If the interest is out there, I had been using a solution of bleach and water to sanitize with, but you have to make sure you rinse everything really, really good or the bleach just kills the yeast/bacteria. The new stuff is non-rinse (Star San) and very easy to use. 1 oz. mixed with 5gal of water, submerge your equipment and let sit for 1 minute (or more won't hurt) while prepping other ingredients, Pull it out and let it drip dry. Once dry, pour in your mixture. I bought all this stuff at my local Just Brew It Store, but not all cities have one of those. You can buy it all online, however, I try to buy local when possible to support our growing city. For those with no choice here are a few links to what I am using.; I already had this container and used it because the gasket is removable so you can wash and sanitize it. You can buy a smaller bottle if needed, but this one and the larger have a squeeze-to-measure side. So you just squeeze the bottle until the reservoir fills to the 1/4 oz or 1/2 oz line and pour. No mess. Thank you again for this article/recipe/how to and to your commitment to staying active with all the posts. Jody
meg's picture

No problem, Jody! Fermentation is interesting in that it's not an A--->B--->C process, but rather a bit more flexible and varied. I know that when I first started doing fermentation projects several years ago I had tons of questions, and every ferment is different. Thanks for sharing the information on your process! I love to hear about how other people handle their fermentation projects.
Duke's_Fiery_Foods's picture

I've spoken to Jim, in person and contributed to his cause. I live about 3 hours from Knoxville. I plan to visit him at the Market in mid-August. After assimilating the above tips and tricks, I've developed a great pepper sauce. I start with Chocolate Scorpion peppers from Baker's Peppers. After seeding and chopping those, I add a 1lb. bag of "Sweet Peppers" from my Kroger produce dept. The bag contains yellow, orange, and red peppers which are slightly hotter than Bell peppers... but they have a lot of carbs. One pound of Scorpions to one pound of "sweets." Wal*Mart has some great 1 Gal. and 2.5 Gal. Glass Crock Jars to work with. Moscato is THE sweetest white wine so that's what I use. Once I have the mash ready to go, I add the wine, salt, and a tube of Lactobacillus culture from my neighborhood brewer supply store, and I'm set. Set the glass lid on edge and in 3 days the stuff starts working. I stir it three or four times a day. Wal•Mart also has a great Oneida strainer for skimming the mold. (Use a pair of pliers to break off the top flap so you can get down with it.) After 25-30 days, I ladle the fermented mash into my food mill and strain out the solids to create a great, thick, suspension of fermented pepper concentrate. I set aside the mill and boil the concentrate after adding Mirin, Honey, Sweet Vermouth, and Amber Agavé Syrup. I also add garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt, and Brucken's Seasoning. One more pass thru a medium-fine strainer, boil for 30 min. and I have my sauce. Mmmmm. I've always wondered why the folks at Sriracha also offer a semi-solid relish to complement their signature sauce. BI-PRODUCTS! After setting aside the food-milled-solids I realized that there was a use for the seeds and skins of the milled peppers. I scraped out the solids into a sauce pan. I added honey, dark balsamic vinegar, sweet vermouth, liquid smoke, garlic powder, and pectin. Boiled it low for 45 min., used my immersible blender, and ended up with a great, hot, pepper marmalade. Keep an eye out for
meg's picture

That sounds absolutely delicious! We love the chili garlic paste that Huy Fong does--I think we even like it better than the actual sriracha. It's a great use for all those pepper bits that get strained out. Thanks so much for sharing your process--it sounds awesome!
Lee's picture

Wow! Just love all your info! Wish I could have found a way to pin it to my Pinterest account. I'll be looking for your site, Thank you!
LP's picture

I enjoyed your traditional pepper fermenting recipes. I would like to add, in order to keep rinsing of white mold from the tops, it takes a lot of time. What I do is the easier way, to only ferment for about 3-4 days depending on temp and mold formation. keep an eye on it, if it looks non cloudy keep it going until you suspect mold will form soon, then refrigerate for another week or 2 to finish fermentation. That way there is no need to worry about mold.
mary mahaney's picture

Isn't fermentation an anaerobic process? why do you cover with a cloth instead of an air-tight cover?
meg's picture

Technically, yes. However, anything below the surface of the ferment is in an anaerobic environment regardless of what kind of cover you use. Also, this kind of fermentation is anaerobic, but the presence of oxygen doesn't hamper it. At the time of writing this post, we used a cloth covering to allow CO2 to escape while keeping flies and dust out. We recently acquired some nifty airlock mason jar lids, so if we were to do this post over again, we would use those instead. Either way, though, your peppers will ferment splendidly. Thanks for the great question!
Hiding's picture

Yes, that's essentially what I am doing, but without the rubber seal on - so it should allow gas out. As long as gas is being produced, airflow should be one way. If you completely seal it, the CO2 will eventually stay in solution, carbonating it and increasing the acidity of the sauce. From what I read here, that may eventually kill the bacteria. Worse, if the jar is completely sealed, it might explode when the pressure becomes too great.


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Bake until tender:
   Four 8-ounce baking potatoes
Let cool completely. Cut each potato lengthwise into quarters. With a teaspoon, scoop out most of the pulp,...