Ever since I was a young, I’ve had a love for spicy food. I was always that odd kid who’d reach for the jalapeno chips, load my hot dogs with banana peppers, and add hot sauce to most dishes.
I remember at one point, around grade four, my gums stared to recede and pieces of flesh in my mouth would actually turn white and fall off from all of the spicy food that I ate (sorry for the visual but I really wanted to put things into perspective for you haha!). It was probably due the fact that I ate cream cheese and banana peppers on toast almost every morning for breakfast… what I’m trying to get at here is that, a. I was a weird kid, and b. I’m a spicy food connoisseur! I know a good hot sauce when I see one, and this fermented garlic hot sauce that I’m about to present to you damn good!
This fermented garlic hot sauce reminds me of the consistency and flavor of Sriracha, which I’m quite sure you’re familiar with – it’s pretty much what all of the cool kids are eating these days. I even saw on my Facebook feed the other day that Sriracha is now sold in key-chain form… that’s almost as weird as my gums falling off from eating too much spicy food as a kid (not).
My go-to pepper for hot sauce is fresh, cayenne. It rates about a 5/10 on the hotness scale (with a red pepper being 0 and a habanero being 10). It has a nice flavor, mildly sweet, and isn’t burn-your-face-off hot. Last summer, I made a habanero hot sauce that is unbearably hot – even for me. The whole bottle is still sitting in the door of my fridge, almost untouched. Once in a while I build up the courage to add a dash or two to a Caesar or Bloody Mary, but that’s about it. I think it will be in there for a while.
But why ferment hot sauce?
Please, don’t let the fact that this hot sauce is fermented turn you off of making it – fermentation is EASY, and this recipe in particular in SUPER EASY! Paired with handy fermentation tools from FermenTools it’s fool proof. (What the heck is fermentation? Learn the basics HERE!)
If you follow my blog, then you already now that I love to ferment my condiments (and everything), because not only will doing so help preserve them, but it will enhance your foods nutritional value! And if my condiments are fermented, then I have a better chance of consuming fermented food throughout the day, which is ideal for optimal gut and digestive health (and a million other things…read more about the benefits for fermenting food HERE!)
Furthermore, fermenting this garlic hot sauce enhances the flavor 10 fold. I made a version earlier this year that I didn’t ferment, and the flavor just doesn’t compare. Fermenting really brought out the garlic flavor.
How to Make Fermented Hot Sauce
What you’ll need:
- 1 1/2 tbsp. Himalayan pink salt (or other non-iodized salt)
- 2 cups water, room temperature (filtered or spring – just make sure it’s chlorine free, as chlorine could prevent fermentation)
- 8-10 fresh cayenne peppers
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 white onion, small
- Wide mouth mason jar
- FermenTools Starter Kit (if you want to make you life easier – if not, you’ll need to use a plastic baggy filled with water as weight to keep the peppers, garlic and onion below the surface of the water.)
The first thing you always want to do before fermenting food is to make sure your cooking area and tools are very clean. Use hot, soapy water to wash everything, and leave to tools are jar to air dry. Bad bacteria will spoil your ferment.
Roughly chop up your onion, garlic and cayenne pepper into similar sized pieces and put enough in the jar to fill it about 3/4 full. USE GLOVES!
Make a Basic Brine using the Himalayan salt and filtered water. Stir until the salt has dissolved.
Pour the brine over the peppers, onions and garlic until they are covered.
In order for the fermentation process to take place, you’ll need to remove oxygen from the environment. In more scientific terms, fermentation in an anaerobic process, and must occur in the absence of oxygen in order for beneficial microorganisms to thrive. To do this, use a weight to submerge the veggies below the surface of the water.
Use a glass weight to hold the veggies below the surface, and assemble the lid and airlock from the FermenTools kit. If you don’t have a FermenTools kit, you can use a plastic baggy filled with water to hold down the peppers, and a regular mason jar lid to seal the jar, however, I definitely recommend using glass instead of plastic.
Leave to ferment for 1-3 weeks, out of direct sunlight.
After it’s finished fermenting, strain the liquid out into a measuring glass and set it aside. Transfer the fermented peppers, onions and garlic into a food processor or blender. Add 1/2 cup of the liquid into the blender or food processor, and blend the ingredients for about 30 seconds (or longer for a smoother consistency). Add more liquid until you get the consistency that you desire.
You can choose to strain the hot sauce through a cheese cloth if you like (be sure to use gloves), but I prefer it chunky.
Transfer to an air tight jar, and store in the fridge. The hot sauce will keep for many months.
More About FermenTools!
FermenTools, as it’s name suggests, sells quality tools for fermenting, which now that I have, I don’t know what I did without.
Like I mentioned before, and in my Fermentation 101 post, fermentation takes place in a specific environment – warm, clean, and free form oxygen. And although the “warm and clean” part is up to you, FermenTools can provide you with the equipment you need to keep your fermenting food and beverages in the absence of oxygen.
FermenTools uses airlocks to keep the outside air away from the submerged food and beverages, thus producing carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Carbon dioxide is heavier than air and will be trapped in the container. The more carbon dioxide that is produced, the more air that is pushed out and kept out of the container via the airlock.
Aside from airlocks, FermenTools also offers glass weights which submerge food beneath the brine, providing and anaerobic environment for fermentation to occur. They also supply fine ground, pink Himalayan salt which, with over 80 trace minerals, is ideal for basic brines.