I usually start to lose interest in the garden this time of year. Some crops have completed their lifecycle and have been harvested, and others have worn out their welcome and have become a bore. Yellow squash has run its course, and I quit harvesting beans weeks ago, letting them grow long and gnarly.
Since I will be putting very little effort into the garden for the rest of the hot season, I harvested many of the peppers to use in various ways.
There was enough red ripe jalapeños amongst the green ones to make up a quart of red salsa. I allowed the salsa to ferment at room temperature for 10 to twelve hours to give it probiotic qualities and a longer refrigerator life. The key to safe fermentation is the ratio of 2%* sea salt by weight to the weight of the vegetables. Lactobacillus bacteria occur naturally on the skins of fruits and vegetable, and these desirable bacteria thrive in a saline environment whereas harmful bacteria do not. I also added a small amount of whey poured off the top of yogurt which contained live bacteria cultures.
To allow the fermenting salsa to breathe without letting in undesirable bacteria I placed a folded paper towel under the lid and left the jar on the counter overnight.
We enjoyed some of this salsa on freeform taco salad the next day.
I hadn’t planned on making fermented hot sauce (as opposed to salsa) this year since there remain numerous bottles of hot sauce in my pantry and refrigerator from previous seasons. It is such a great way to use up an abundance of chili peppers without going to the painstaking effort of removing each and every seed from each and every pepper. The seeds will be removed later using a Chinoise, a much easier task.
The process of making fermented hot sauce is performed in stages. First the peppers are made into a coarse mash by pulsing them in a food processor.
To produce a nice green sauce I used only green jalapeños. I have learned that mixing green with red peppers results in a less pleasing shade of orangish brown.
Here again, I added sea salt at a rate of 2%* by weight. This was followed by a proper mashing to extract enough liquid to submerse the peppers. Keeping the mash covered with liquid is important to limit mold growth (which is harmless and is easily removed).
To aid in keeping the mash submersed I poured saline water into a Ziplock® baggie and placed the sealed baggie in the top of the fermentation vessel.
I will leave the pepper mash to ferment for approximately a month, or until my curiosity gets the better of me.
*Note that the 2% sea salt makes for a somewhat salty sauce. I have used 1 1/2% in the past with good results. I did not use yogurt whey in the hot sauce as I did in the salsa.