Late yesterday afternoon I went out and picked a large bowlful of jalapeños.
I’ve already canned pickled jalapeños this year on top of the ones we still have from previous years. There is plenty of jalapeño jam in the pantry. A couple weeks ago I dehydrated jalapeños and ground them into powder. There is no shortage of fermented hot sauce in either the refrigerator or the pantry. So, what to do with a bowlful of jalapeños?
Of all the different hot pepper sauces I have made over the years green jalapeño is my favorite for flavor and level of heat, so I decided to use these peppers to start a new batch of fermented jalapeño hot sauce.
The fermentation process is simple but a bit involved, as any food preservation project is. The peppers are blended into a mash, the proper amount of salt is added and the mash is given time to ferment. The liquid is strained and squeezed from the fermented mash and then bottled, either to go in the refrigerator or canned by water bath to go in the pantry. Simple, eh?
Here are some photos to illustrate the first half of the process:
I roughly sliced the peppers so more would fit in the food processor, seeds and all. This is hot sauce, you know! Heat level can be adjusted later by how much is used at a time.
The amount of sea salt I’m using today is about 1.5% by weight. I used to do 2%, and the result is quite salty, which is not that big a deal since only a few drops/splashes are used at a time. Lactobacillus bacteria, which is naturally present on the skins of vegetables and fruit, thrive in a saline environment whereas harmful/undesirable bacteria are discouraged from growing.
I had to process the peppers in two batches so I used half the salt in each batch.
I spooned the mash into a clean canister (washed and rinsed with boiling water). A small amount of mash wouldn’t fit so I strained out as much liquid as I could and discarded the rest.
It is important that the mash solids be covered with the liquid. The salt draws out plenty of fluid from the peppers. A clean plate or any disc shaped object can be used to keep the solids submerged. I used this tin can strainer for that purpose. Sometimes just a plastic bag filled with salt water is used or a small clean weight can be placed on top of the disc.
There wasn’t space in the canister to add a weight so I place a sealed Ziploc® bag of saline water on top.
I covered the top of the canister with a clean cloth and spread kosher salt on top. This is to allow it to breathe and hopefully keep out harmful bacteria. I have found that three weeks to a month works well for a fermentation time. Meanwhile I will resist the temptation to check on the progress. Some people like to check frequently. I think it is a bad idea since it presents an opportunity for unwanted bacteria to be introduced. I wait.