Just to add a few more terms for clarification-
fermented/fermentation- a process of preserving food by using GoodBugs like lactobacillus to preserve foods and prevent BadBugs/Nasties like botulism. The GoodBugs eat the natural sugars in the vegetable matter, like what happens when making beer, kimchee, saurerkraut or wine. The fermentation process lowers the pH of the product, getting it into the safe zone, and once properly fermented, no additional vinegar or acids are necessary.
Often, people will add vinegar to fermented sauces for the flavor, but if the sauce has been properly fermented and the sauces is in a safe pH zone, no additional vinegar/acids are needed for food safety. The sauce still needs to be dealt with properly for food safety. More below~
Traditional kimchee and sauerkraut recipes call for using salt (and a bit of water if needed) and keeping the produce in an oxygen free environment. The use of crocks with a recessed lid lip and a well of water in the ring provided the one-way airlock required to keep the fermenting produce safe and not allowing oxygen into the environment. Now-a-days, we have things like Bubblers, wine airlocs, traditional crocks, and nifty containers like these to help with the oxygen-free environment.
Beer and wine use an oxygen-free environment using bubblers and the use of yeast starters to get the fermentation process started. Most chile ferments don't use yeast to kick start the fermentation process. There's tons of great detailed information in the Fermenting 101 thread.
Open Fermentation- sometimes people try to use a cheese cloth or other porous material to cover a fermenting process. While I know that that process is sometime used in some applications, I do not know anything about that process, and most of our ResidentExperts here on THP do not suggest using an open fermentation process. The most highly suggested process is using a closed environment. Whether with an airlock bubbler or just burping the jars on a daily basis, do not do a ferment that is open to the environment unless you really know what the heck you are doing!
Aging/Aged- is just what it says....letting something rest in a cool dark environment for whatever amount of time the maker desires. Aging is not a preservation method.
Aging may change the flavor of whatever over time. Sausage, cheese, steak, wine and hhwhiskeys are aged. The idea is that the food tastes better after sitting in a cellar for (whatever) years. Fermented sauces can be aged, vinegar based sauces can be aged. As long as the pH is low and in the safe zone, anything can be aged for weeks or months. But again, for sauces....aging is not preserving and if the pH isn't right to start with, then the sauce will go bad.
Sometimes, there is an overlap of processes. Sometimes the fermentation and aging occurs simultaneously. Eventually the fermentation process slows down to where it is basically done and the only process is the aging/mellowing of flavors. With things like alcohol, the aging process is further influenced by things like aging in oak barrels, but that is for a whole other forum!
Beef Steaks can be aged- in a low temp refrigerator and relatively low moisture environment for 20-40 days. Again, it is the combination of refrigeration and lower moisture content that makes the aging process safe. A steak on the counter top, open to air, and at room temp? yea...bad in a matter of hours....
Mash- Mash is a common term in beer and 'shine making and in that arena, the mash refers to the mix of grains, hops and stuff that is left in the barrel to ferment, and then it is distilled.
Technically, a "mash" is anything that is ground up, it refers to texture and consistency. A "mash" does not automatically mean the ground up stuff is fermented! Mashed potatoes....mashed cauliflower....
Lots of chiles are sold commercially as "Mash" and there are any number of combinations of ground up chiles- some with salt, some without salt, some with vinegar, some without vinegar, some fermented, some not fermented.....
It's an ongoing process to make people aware that "mash" does not mean "fermented". A lot of people assume mash=fermented, but that is not correct. A mash CAN be fermented, but do not automatically assume that when a person says 'mash', it is fermented.
Puree- usually references a smooth, sometimes concentrated, product. Puree's usually have minimal ingredients, like AJ's Chile Puree. Lots of ingredients are available in puree form which is great for making sauces and other foods. AJ's recipe shows how to make a chile puree and process it in small canning jars. Thousands of other ingredients are available in frozen form. People can make their own finely ground peppers, and maybe ran through a food sieve for a reaaally smooth sauce, and then resulting mess can be frozen in flat pint ziploc bags for ease of use.
Safe handling of fermented/preserved sauces- Hot Pack it or Fridge It-
The process of fermentation is a combination of lowering the pH of the product with the GoodBugs and keeping it in an oxygen-free environment. As long as those 2 parameters are maintained, the sauce can pretty much hang out indefinitely as is. AS SOON AS THE AIR-LOCK IS BROKEN, then it must be dealt with like any fresh product.
It's all a combination of pH, storage temperature, and oxygen.
Bottled orange juice has a naturally low pH and as long as it is in the sealed bottle, it can be in the pantry for years.
No oxygen, moderate temp, low pH = no Nasties
As soon as the juice is opened, the 1/2 glass of juice on the kitchen counter will get moldy even though the pH is still low.
+oxygen, +temperature, low pH= +Nasties
If the open juice is put in the fridge...it will stay good for a long time.
+oxygen, -temperature, low pH= Nasties deflected for a while
Once the air-lock is broken, Nasties will get into the fermented sauce. If the sauce is left out at room temp, it will spoil fairly quickly, just like kimchee or orange juice will spoil when left on the kitchen counter. If the sauce is put in the refrigerator, like how traditional kimchee crocks were buried in the ground to keep them cool, then the nasties can't grow (as fast) and the sauce is safe for a long time.
The other way to make a fermented sauce safe for the pantry is to cook the sauce (which will stop the fermentation process) and bottle it using the HotFillHold method or a boiling water bath processing. Again, as long as the pH is nice and low, there is no need for additional vinegars or acids and the fermented sauce can be cooked and bottled as is. Other ingredients can be added to taste~]
Sauces containing oils- (not flavor infused oils...see below)
in most situations, sauces and condiments (like salad dressings, pesto, chimichurri) containing oil should only be made and kept refrigerated, frozen or processed using a full pressure canning process. Making a safe shelf stable product that contains oil/butter is highly regulated and extremely risky if you don't know how to do it safely!
Herb and chile infused oils can be done safely with dried herbs and peppers. Use of fresh peppers and herbs is not recommended, the moisture content of the fresh ingredients can introduce nasties/botulism into the oil. Only use dried chiles and herbs when making flavored oils.
Pressure cooker -vs- pressure canner-
Recent new developments in the home appliance market has brought out some home pressure cookers, which are NOT the same as a pressure CANNER. Do research, if you need a pressure canner, make sure to purchase the right kettle.
Hope this helps with some topics that have come up recently. I'll probably edit a few times, so please chime in with suggestions and corrections.
Edited by salsalady, 13 May 2018 - 12:47 AM.