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Fermenting Peppers 101


Best Answer Chuck Wagon, 18 July 2013 - 12:24 PM

I considered buying the Perfect Pickler, but realized that it was simply an airlock, a plastic mason jar lid with a hole and rubber gasket in the center.

So I made my own.(actually I made 5)

Took about 2 minutes...total cost less than $3.00 ea.

I use a 2 or 3 oz plastic condiment cup as the "brine cup" (which isn't really necessary most the time)

Works like a charm every time.

 

$3.00 Vs $!9.50

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#161 RocketMan

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 09:45 AM

I drilled holes in the tops of the lids and put rubber collet(?) in it.


+1 Hot Stuff, just get a rubber gromet from your local homebrew shop or off of ebay, drill a hole and your set.

+1 to PIC 1 also, good call!

Okay, more clarity.. and thank you all! And I've read this thread a bunch of times. I'm just not very intelligent. And you'll probably think (after reading), "Doc 'sort of' gets it... but he's somewhat dense. He's close, but not really getting it".


Resolved: make a great pepper mash to use as a base for hot sauce


- I get my favorite peppers that I want to ferment (chef's choice)

- I cut off the stems, but leave the seeds and membrane intact (personal choice or is there some advantage to getting rid of "rind" or tough ends (?)
Just pop the stem off and remove any of the material surounding the stem and you good.

- I use a food processor to pulverize the peppers and add them do a mason jar (that's what I can easily buy)

- Okay, add maybe 5%-6% salt, not ionized (sp?), but kosher or, better, pickling. Thinking about that gourmet stuff, like pink Hawaiian "lava" salt... for another thread!
You can use less salt if your using a starter to get the fermentation going. I have high blood pressure and so only use 2 tablespoons of salt.

- Smash down, remove any air... stir up the salty slurry... establish a young "mash"
You'll need a little air space left in the top. As the fermentation starts the sir will be pushed out by the CO2 that is produced.

+ I bought a half-dozen air-locks, and they look really cool and well-designed... but they seem to be made for "bungs" (beer/wine). They are the size (diameter) of a.... dill pickle. Bad purchase? What the hell can I use them for?
What Hot Stuff said

- The alternative is a layer of cheese-cloth(s) and some sort of weight to assure submersion. Can I get a stone from my yard and boil it clean? A white stone... keeping the veggies under brine. I'm not clear on these "glass beads". Sounds kinky.
Go to Walmart or Target and look in the section with the fake flower stuff. They're used to make clear glass vases look nice. Also when your getting your rubber gromet pick up some hop sacks. They're perfect for putting the glass beads into.

- I will make these airlocks work, some how... so the pre-pubescent salty pepper mash will sit at room temp for... 4 days, with said "protection". Or is it 30+ days?? ROOM TEMP. Are the second through 4th-8th weeks refrigerated? Sealed?
Ideal fermentation takes place in the 80 to 90 degree F range. With an air lock on you'll close up the Mason Jar tightly and put he air lock on. I usually let mine go 45 to 90 days and if I'm letting it go longer I'll move it to the fridge.

- I'll probably also have peppercorns, allspice berries, maybe cardamom pods, lemon grass, etc. in the mash (can't see any harm there). I buy cooking spices in pod/seed form (and grind them down for cooking, NOT for this exercise).
if your using dried spices put them in when you make the final sauce as the fermentation wont reall affect them.

- I'm on-board with buying some nice Greek yogurt and using the whey... along with some distilled/Spring (non-tap) water and previously addressed "salt"... HOW would this addition coincide with the simple (Chile Pepper)/SALT starter? Is the whey starter geared to "pickled peppers" (and carrots and celery, etc)?
The starter will take care of any fresh ingredients you add. The Lactobacillius bacteris will eat all the sugars and prodece Lactic Acid in return.

- Am I mixing up pickling peppers with pepper mash?
Nope, your doing good. You can pickle peppers this way or by just soaking them in vinegar.

I also bought a PH tester... and I understand ambient temps are important... but that's too hard-core for me at this point. For another thread.
I grow some interesting heirloom peppers; I don't mind paying a little more $ to ensure their viability.
A lot of ph testers are able to adjust for the temperature within a set heat range. If your unsure about yours, test the ph when you dump the fermentation contents and then after the first blender run. put a little in a dish, let it cool for a bit and test it.

I know... over-thinking... it's a bane...


JMHO
Cheers,
RM

Edited by RocketMan, 23 February 2012 - 09:47 AM.

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#162 -Pablo-

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 09:52 AM

Yep, you're pretty much on the right track. I usually remove stems because who wants to taste those? Sometimes I'll remove seeds too depending on the pepper - some are much easier to seed than others. The seeds will get strained out later when I make hot sauce. As for refrigeration, don't do it until you want to store the mash semi-permanently. The colder temps will retard the fermentation and stall it out. I would let it sit at room temperature the entire duration of the ferment - typically 6-8 weeks but many people go a year or even two years. Remember the fermentation process will preserve the mash

I might also recommend making a couple mashes with cheap store-bought peppers to experiment with first so you know what to look out for before going to your more pricey heirloom peppers. You might even be surprised at the results! If you're going to make a mash of the heirlooms, you can always keep them in the freezer as you harvest until you're ready since they're just going to get mashed up anyway.

Okay, more clarity.. and thank you all! And I've read this thread a bunch of times. I'm just not very intelligent. And you'll probably think (after reading), "Doc 'sort of' gets it... but he's somewhat dense. He's close, but not really getting it".


Resolved: make a great pepper mash to use as a base for hot sauce


- I get my favorite peppers that I want to ferment (chef's choice)
- I cut off the stems, but leave the seeds and membrane intact (personal choice or is there some advantage to getting rid of "rind" or tough ends (?)
- I use a food processor to pulverize the peppers and add them do a mason jar (that's what I can easily buy)
- Okay, add maybe 5%-6% salt, not ionized (sp?), but kosher or, better, pickling. Thinking about that gourmet stuff, like pink Hawaiian "lava" salt... for another thread!
- Smash down, remove any air... stir up the salty slurry... establish a young "mash"
+ I bought a half-dozen air-locks, and they look really cool and well-designed... but they seem to be made for "bungs" (beer/wine). They are the size (diameter) of a.... dill pickle. Bad purchase? What the hell can I use them for?
- The alternative is a layer of cheese-cloth(s) and some sort of weight to assure submersion. Can I get a stone from my yard and boil it clean? A white stone... keeping the veggies under brine. I'm not clear on these "glass beads". Sounds kinky.
- I will make these airlocks work, some how... so the pre-pubescent salty pepper mash will sit at room temp for... 4 days, with said "protection". Or is it 30+ days?? ROOM TEMP. Are the second through 4th-8th weeks refrigerated? Sealed?
- I'll probably also have peppercorns, allspice berries, maybe cardamom pods, lemon grass, etc. in the mash (can't see any harm there). I buy cooking spices in pod/seed form (and grind them down for cooking, NOT for this exercise).
- I'm on-board with buying some nice Greek yogurt and using the whey... along with some distilled/Spring (non-tap) water and previously addressed "salt"... HOW would this addition coincide with the simple (Chile Pepper)/SALT starter? Is the whey starter geared to "pickled peppers" (and carrots and celery, etc)?
- Am I mixing up pickling peppers with pepper mash?
I also bought a PH tester... and I understand ambient temps are important... but that's too hard-core for me at this point. For another thread.
I grow some interesting heirloom peppers; I don't mind paying a little more $ to ensure their viability.

I know... over-thinking... it's a bane...



#163 Stemwinder

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 10:16 AM

You don't need to "pulverize" your peppers before you ferment them. As you can see in the picture above, I just rough-chopped mine. I suppose if you have a lot of ingredients that you're trying to cram in there, pulverizing is the way to go. :)
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#164 Dr Pacheco

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 06:52 PM

Thanks everyone. I sincerely appreciate it.

#165 Salamander

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 03:37 PM

A little confusion on my part here about the brine. I am reading about a salt to water ratio and also a salt to vegetable weight ratio. If I pack a jar with diced peppers and vegetables and leave say one inch of space there is not much room for a brine solution as opposed to leaving say three inches of head space. One inch would result in a much lower salt content than three inches. Now salt by weight of contents would give a significantly higher salt level and require less water in these scenarios. Is there an advantage to one over the other or more a matter of preference?

#166 -Pablo-

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 03:45 PM

The basic idea is to keep your vegetables submerged under the brine solution, and however you choose to get there is up to you. The brine solution people are talking about is usually the water that comes out of the vegetables and salt mash from the salt drawing out the moisture. Some people add water if they're dealing with particularly thin-skinned pods like cayennes. Fermenting things like cabbage for sauerkraut would obviously not need extra water added due to the already high moisture content of the cabbage.

#167 Dr Pacheco

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 09:07 PM

How do I incorporate these airlocks I bought (not expensive)? Someone said "drill holes in Mason jar lid". The diameter is about an inch. That solution seems sort of "trickeration". I'm not a handyman... I'm a gardener.

#168 hot stuff

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 09:22 PM

An inch? Really? Go to the hardware store with your airlock. Hand it to the person behind the counter and say I need a rubber grommet this will fit in. Record the outer diameter of the gromet. Drill a hole that size, insert the gromet and insert the airlock.
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#169 Mild Fire

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 11:19 PM

For those confuzzled (somewhere between confused and puzzled ;)) about possible yeast contamination from sourdough starter, that's the main purpose of the brine. Yeast beasties can't tolerate high salt concentrations, neither can the bad lactic acid producing bacteria ( like some streptococcus strains). Without the salt, they can thrive together for a while. In beer making, the goal is to let the yeast make alcohol before the lactobacillus uses all the sugar to make lactic acid, if you're making something that is soured a bit. In wine making and other beers, the goal is to sterilize everything to keep bacteria out and only add the yeast. In fermentation of vegetables, you're doing the opposite, getting the bacteria going to make lactic acid and keeping the yeast at bay with salt so it doesn't turn your mix into alcohol. There is some evidence that S. cerevisiae can survive in low numbers in saline, but the salt stress changes their metabolism, so they get busy using a different sugar and converting it into glucose, but that sugar isn't present in vegetables, so should have minimal relevance to your hot sauces. And, once the pH drops below 6ish, that also adds to the inhospitable environment for all but a few lactobacillus strains that can tolerate acid and salt.

I can't think of any reason yeast alone would lower pH, and more likely, does nothing in a brine solution, but wild lactobacillus is everywhere and would start the old-fashioned way. Sour is a characteristic of acid. Perhaps some CO<sub>2</sub> dissolved in the solution lowered the pH some.

I've never made hot sauce, but my family has made sauerkraut. A trick I learned from my grandmother was to line the buckets she made it in with a triple layer of plastic bags, then twist tie the bags down to the level of the brine/cabbage. You could weight those, but the bags themselves kept everything submerged, and using twist ties instead of knots let gases escape. That might help some of those having issues with weights keeping everything submerged.

#170 frosty

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 02:38 PM

quick Q:
Let's say I had the peppers pushed below the liquid and the stuff had been vigourously bubbling for a few days. Then let's say I remove the weights. The bubbling eventually brings the peppers up and the fluid down. Have I screwed up?

#171 -Pablo-

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 02:51 PM

If it's a short time period, no, you just want to make sure nothing nasty is growing on the top from the air exposure. Keep it submerged where possible.

#172 RocketMan

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 11:22 PM

Also once you have good action going on try not to open the jar unless you really have to. As the frrmentation progresses the air will be pushed out by the CO2 being produced and the CO2 will help to prevent any nasties getting in.

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#173 DiggingDogFarm

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 11:33 PM

Yeast beasties can't tolerate high salt concentrations


Not so, kahm yeast infestation is the white stuff common in lacto fermentation that so many confuse with mold.
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#174 salsalady

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 02:58 AM

Hi Y'all, I just read (most) of the thread...(skipped some of the technical chemestry stuff... :crazy:)

Just a couple quick things to post and then it's back to reading....
Hot Stuff and Dr Pacheco- I think the Dr has an airlock with a large bung-type rubber stopper on it. I have one like it. If I'm correct, DrP can remove the large rubber stopper and take the plastic airlock which should have a diameter more like 3/8th" to the hardware store and get a smaller 1/2" or so rubber grommet like HS described. If you have a really good hardware store (a mom-n-pop-type) you could probably take the lid you want to use in with the airlock, and they would maybe even drill the hole for you and fit it with the proper size grommet.

We have stores like that around here, but then again...we live in the middle of no-where ;)



For clarification-
RM- you mentioned putting things in the dishwasher for sterilization. Maybe I didn't read it right, but do you put the bottle, reducer, and cap in the DW? Usually when doing hot packing only the bottle needs to be sanitized as the rest is taken care of by inversion. I may not have understood the post correctly.


Large pot- it isn't spelled out, but to help the noobies...it should be a NON-REACTIVE pot. Stainless steel, glass, enamel (if there are NO CHIPS), do not use aluminum, cast iron, copper...

Bleach water- RM, the original post says to fill the pot with HOT water and bleach. Every health food class or course I've seen says to use luke-warm or cold water as hot water actually reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of bleach. Each health district is different, so I'm just sharing what WA state regs are. I had thought that all states had similar regs for bleach. Please let me know if your health codes are different. Just trying to keep accurate information for when people ask questions. Thanks.

Thanks for the great tutorial and...lively....discussions. :lol:

I have a gallon+ batch just started using some different ingredients than I've seen here. Will let you know how it turns out.

Thanks again~

Edited by salsalady, 18 March 2012 - 03:00 AM.

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#175 RocketMan

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 05:54 AM

SL you are correct about the bottles, only the bottle needs sanitization. Since I'm not a professional and for the sake of cost I buy my bottles at the store for 69 cents and no shipping then empty and wash and strip labels. Shipping costs may be worth it just so no label striping is necessary :) So I run everything through just for an extra measure of safety.

Now where were you when I needed you? I hadn't heard that about hot water and bleach but, the water I use is more warm than hot and only sink hot not boiling. That was just how I learned it from my grandparents. Good stuff to know. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Looking forward to hearing about how your experiments go. Tasty at least I'm sure.

Cheers
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#176 salsalady

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 04:05 PM

Ah, OK, rocketman, I understand about the bottles. Probably a good thing to run everything through the DW. As long as the lids don't have the plastic liners, that procedure should work fine.


One more quick note on bleach- some people think that putting bleach in their soapy wash water is sanitizing the dishes while they was. This is incorrect. The soap, like HOT water, neutralizes the effectiveness of the bleach. Standard washing procedure for commercial kitchens is a 3-step process- Wash, Rinse, Sanitize
Wash- in hot soapy water
Rinse- hot fresh water, preferably running water as opposed to a sink full of fresh water. The sink-full of fresh water gets full of soap after a few dishes and then you're not rinsing all of the soap off
Sanitize- 1 teaspoon (or capful for easy measurement) per gallon (4L) fresh luke-warm to cool water

Air Dry the dishes, do not use a towel to dry the dishes.


Hope this helps. Pics of my first try coming soon.
SL

edit- I just realized I started a big jar of green mash on St Patrick's Day! WOOT! It's destined to be a success! :fingerscrossed:

The usual assortment of jalapeno, onion, garlic, and for the seal, a plastic bag (new bread bag, not a ziploc) with salt brine in it. I used the salt water in case it leaks a little, then it won't dilute the brine. Day 2, I think there's some action starting.
Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image

Edited by salsalady, 18 March 2012 - 04:14 PM.

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PepperPeopleRock!


#177 wmx4e

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 08:46 AM

All the water seems to have settled at the bottom of the jar. How would I keep all the peppers submerged. Nothing is foaming on the top, so should I even bother.


#178 salsalady

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 09:02 AM

Hi wmx4e, welcome!

How long have the chiles been "working"? Do you have an airlock or lid of some kind?

from what other's have said- if it's already in a jar and working, swirl the jar around a couple times a day to mix up the chiles and brine, and I think in a few more days the pulp will settle to the bottom.

If it hasn't been working or is just starting, put some kind of weight on the pulp to hold it down. A small glass dish,plate,bowl, some clean glass marbles or pebbles wrapped in clean cheesecloth or even a clean scrap of cotton and tied would do the trick or a plastic bag filled with salt ,which would also work as a airlock in some cases.

I'm only quoting what I've read as I'm only working on my first mash ever right now.

Edited by salsalady, 19 March 2012 - 09:04 AM.

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PepperPeopleRock!


#179 wmx4e

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 09:21 AM

I do have am airlock and I do see bubbles in the airlock. It has been working since wen. I will shake when I get home. What is a good way to see if ferm is working. Thanks

#180 RocketMan

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 01:13 PM

wmx4e,
If the mash all seems to be floating to the top then it's working as the trapped bubbles are causing the mash to float up. Hence the swirl / shake to get the trapped bubbles released. If all of the mash was at the bottom of the jar and no weight was holding them down I'd be worried that it wasn't working. After it's been working and the CO2 is at a level in the jar that it's releasing you not a nice peppery smell in the air.

SL,
very nice looking mash there, love it.

Now how long are y'all planning on letting them run?

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