My name is Jack and I have a problem. I am addicted to spicy food, hot peppers and hot sauce, but who isn’t right? With that being said you guessed it. This post will be a journey into the wonderful world of fermentation and using a hot pepper mash recipe in order to make my very own homemade hot sauce. Every fermented hot sauce uses a hot pepper mash recipe as a base to create their final product, and that’s what I’m going to do. This post will be part 1 of 2 posts as the hot pepper mash takes weeks to ferment. The fermentation is necessary as it helps preserve the peppers and the final product hot sauce by lowering the PH level (making it more acidic). The fermentation also enhances the flavor developed in the hot sauce.
What is hot pepper mash?
Hot pepper mash is exactly what it sounds like, mashed up hot peppers. It is salt cured aged peppers which lead to fermentation. The basic explanation of a typical hot pepper mash recipe is, combining fresh peppers which the stems are removed and mashing the peppers or pulsing them in a food processor with unrefined sea salt. The amount of salt should be 6-10% of the weight in peppers. You don’t want to pulse into a fine liquid as you want to be able to tell that there are peppers in the mixture. Put the mixture in a jar, cover loosely and let ferment. Once your fermentation slows down or your done waiting patiently you can use the hot pepper mash to make your own hot sauce.
What is fermentation?
Fermentation is the breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeast or other microorganisms. A bacteria called Lactobacillus which is present on pretty much every living thing, vegetables and fruit eat at the sugars and create a byproduct of CO2, alcohol and lactic acid. Lactobacilli is the bacteria responsible for lacto fermentation of food and thrives in conditions with low oxygen and a salty environment. This kind of fermentation helps preserve food and when consumed promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in your intestine. Don’t be intimidated and give fermenting foods a try. Look here for some of the top books on fermentation.
How to make hot sauce pepper mash
For a chunky mash texture, use your food processor with its steel blade. A Vita-Mix will create a much smoother puree – almost that of a smooth sauce, but be careful. Vita-Mix tend to run “hot”, which can kill off important enzymes and heat liable nutrients of your peppers, so don’t puree longer than 20-seconds.
- Weigh the final quantity of peppers freed of their stems. This is important because the amount of salt you’re going to use is determined by the total weight of her peppers.
- You need to add 6-10% of your pepper weight, of salt, to the peppers prior to pureeing or mashing. That may seem like a lot of salt (it is), but salt is crucial for keeping your pepper mash safe from mold development, enhancing flavors, reducing bitterness, and providing minerals to the lactic-acid bacteria.
- Puree the seeded peppers and salt. Be careful – don’t place your face over the container! When you take the lid off, pepper fumes can be intense, burning delicate eye and nose tissue!
- Scrape the pepper mash into a Pickl-It container.
- Latch Pickl-It lid into place.
- Fill airlock with 1½ T water.
- Place Pickl-It in a dark corner, at room temperature, and cover sides with a towel, to keep UV light out of the ferment.
- After 5-10 days (5-days if temperature is above 72F, and more if temperature is below 68F), refrigerate the mash, keeping the airlock in place. Change the airlock water on a weekly basis.
- If, after a few weeks, you see separation – solids rising to the top, and liquid on the bottom – simply stir the two together.
- If you see a light gray “fuzz” – normal yeast growth – developing on the top layer, simply scrape it free.
- You can add more pureed peppers and salt to the mash. The already-fermented portion will serve as a “starter” for the new peppers.
So what do i do now with my hot pepper mash?
Now I know my airlock container is pretty much empty however this attempt to do my own hot pepper mash was sort of a test run. My next attempt I will definitely go to the farmers market and grab myself some habanero’s in bulk. The goal is to let these ferment in my fridge for a total of 6 months. Once the 6 months of fermentation are up I will write my second post on hot pepper mash. With that post I will turn my hot pepper mash into a Louisiana style hot sauce, so stay tuned and see ya in 6 months.