For time eternal, humans have depended on figuring out ways to find and preserve food. Drying and preserving has been a standard practice. Fermentation is another.
Although original fermenters may not have understood the “science” behind their practices, the end products, such as cheese, yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi and kombucha, have benefits well beyond just filling the tummy. The probiotics found in fermented foods have often been associated with improvements in digestions, weight loss and immunity (PubMed Central, The Lancet.)
Fermentation is a process where yeast, bacteria, molds or fungi break down carbs such as starch or sugar into acids, gasses or alcohol. Examples are alcohol being produced using yeast; vinegar from acetic-acid producing bacteria and soybeans being fermented from mold into tempeh.
Lacto-fermentation uses lactic acid producing bacteria as well as some yeasts and include fermented milks, yogurt, meats, sourdough bread, olive, sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickled vegetables.
One of the simplest methods of lacto-fermentation is to submerge a food that naturally contains lactic acid into a saltwater brine. One of the secrets of successful fermentation is keeping out oxygen, thus allowing bacteria to break down sugar and to produce more lactic acid and carbon dioxide which prevents the growth of other micro-organisms. Fermentation can take from a few days to a few months. Storing in a cool place after the desired fermentation is achieved then slows further fermentation and prevents spoilage.
Fermented Hot Sauce!
The fermented hot sauce project today requires very few ingredients. Just:
- clean, wide lid pint mason jar with a lid
- about ¼ pound of your preferred hot peppers (can be a combination of very hot to mild, red or green fresh peppers)
- 1-2 cloves of garlic
- 2 cups clean, unchlorinated water
- ½ teaspoon of supplied fine sea salt
- glass weight to keep your peppers “underwater” (Available on Amazon)
- a “pickle pipe airlock lid” (plus the metal ring that comes with the mason jar) Also available on Amazon
- optional splash of organic apple cider vinegar at the end of the process
The “How To” of Fermentation
Always work with clean, preferably sterilized tools and clean, fresh, blemish free produce. Slice your clean peppers and garlic. Fill your jar about 2/3-3/4 of the way full.
Heat your water and salt and stir until dissolved, creating your brine. Pour the brine over the veggies, covering by at least 1” – push in glass weight. Fill with brine to about 1” from the top of the jar. Place your “pickle pipe” lid and secure with glass ring. Place on a plate in case any brine bubbles up and out of the container. Set in a warm space for 5-7 days.
The Final Step
After fermentation is complete, remove the lid and weight. Strain off the brine and retain. Place peppers into a blender or food processor. Add enough brine to puree. You can leave your sauce as is or press off and discard solids. Add back in brine until you reach a consistency you like. Adding a splash of apple cider vinegar which gives a bigger boost and adds a bright, tangy taste. Store your new fermented sauce in the refrigerator to slow the fermentation process. It is good for months. Enjoy!