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Member Since 09 May 2017
Offline Last Active Jun 26 2017 09:49 AM

Posts I've Made

In Topic: Fermenting Peppers 101

19 May 2017 - 11:00 AM

Hey guys i'm looking to ferment my way through some of my stock pile from last season.

I can't seem to make sense of this forum because there are so many ways of doing it.


I'm looking to make a lower salt ferment. Not for blood pressure reasons, i'm just not big on salt. and i'm afraid to waste my small stockpile by using too much salt.


what i can't figure out is, are you mixing a certain % of salt by weight directly into the pepper mash AND then covering with a certain % brine? 

Or one of the 2?


I've read SmokenFires wild ferment thread and thats just pure salt mixed into the mash by weight. I get that. 


I'd just like to use a LAB capsule to get things started faster and it sounds like brining may allow me to use less salt?


any thoughts?



I can only speak to my one fermentation attempt so far, but I mixed 2% salt by weight directly in to the mash, and added a splash or two of distilled water (containing no salt) to cover the mash. I kept the jar open, but covered with a dish cloth for two days, and stirred once each day. After 2 days, fermentation started and I replaced the dish cloth with a lid with an air lock and basically just let it sit (no more shaking/stirring). I never experienced any yeast/mold throughout the 4 week fermentation.


From what I've read on this site, that seems to be close to the least amount of salt you can get away with. Based on many folks' reports of fermentations starting in less than 24 hours when using probiotic capsules, I'd agree that technique should make using less salt even safer.

In Topic: Fermenting Peppers 101

14 May 2017 - 11:31 AM

So I decided to process this sauce today after 28 days of fermentation, mainly because I wanted to see how it tastes (first time ever making a hot sauce, let alone fermenting anything) but also because I'm eager to try a second sauce with a few more ingredients and potentially a longer fermentation time and gauge the difference those tweaks make.


Thank you to everyone who has been posting on this site for the last few years! I just discovered this corner of the web recently, but have been slowly reading my way backwards through every thread related to fermenting hot sauce (currently back to early 2015 now) and the trials, the errors, the successes, the recipes, the science...it all has been fantastic!


For my first fermented hot sauce attempt, I went with:


Orange habaneros - 109g

Red bell - 395.8g

Red fresno - 176.2g

Sea salt - 13.6g

A small splash of distilled water


I finely chopped the habaneros, bells and fresnos in a food processor to create a mash then put the mash in a large bowl. I added the sea salt and stirred to incorporate. Then I moved the mash to a mason jar, placed towel over it and loosely tightened the ring to secure it and put it into a cupboard.


For two days, I opened and stirred it once a day to inhibit any mold/yeast growth. On the third day, fermentation had begun (bubbles, separation of the mash), so I replaced the cloth and ring with a plastic lid with an airlock. I never saw any yeast or mold. despite not weighing down the mash.


After fermenting for 28 days, I removed the airlock and opened the lid. I strained the sauce through a fine handheld strainer and used a rubber spatula to separate the pulp from the skins/seeds, scraping the pulp from underneath the strainer into the sauce. After processing the sauce, I re-strained/spatula'd the processed mash just to get any remaining pulp into the sauce.


It tastes pretty darn good, and I think I understand the general flavor of a fermented sauce a little better now. I'm not immune to capsaicin as some folks here are (yet!), so to me, it's pretty spicy. Not the type of thing I would drown a dish in, but not so hot that it sets my tongue on fire. There's a nice tang to it as well. I was prepared to potentially add more salt, honey or vinegar, but I think it might be fine as-is. I'm going to leave it in the fridge for a few days and then retaste.


Lessons learned/stuff for next time:

- Ambient temperature matters. It really seems to slow down fermentation when the temperature dips below 70 degrees.

- Don't open the jar until you're ready to process the sauce. I did this once due to an issue I was having with the airlock where it was pulling air (and then some distilled water from the airlock) in. Thankfully, there didn't seem to be any adverse consequences, but I won't be doing that again.

- Use a smaller jar or make more mash. My jar was only about half full (and even less than that when i started). A fuller jar would create an anaerobic environment quicker and maybe help with my reverse airlock issue (depending on the actual cause). This may not have caused any problems this time, but it's something I'll avoid in the future.

- Get a food mill. The strainer/spatula method seemed to work, but I bet I could have gotten even more pulp into the sauce with a mill, and with less effort.

- Get a ph meter. I have no idea what the ph is, so this sauce is staying in the fridge, but for safety/shelf stability/general curiosity, I'm investing in a ph meter for next time.

- Let the ferment go for even longer. Now that I have a sense of how the flavor develops, I'm interested to push that further. 3 months, 6 months or more.


Here are some pictures!


Last picture I took of the ferment still in the jar (this was at 21 days):



The sauce after being processed, and the leftover mash (going to dry and make pepper flakes/powder):



The sauce, back in the jar (going to put in a more appropriate bottle after tasting in a couple days):



Thank you all for this great resource!

In Topic: Fermenting Peppers 101

09 May 2017 - 09:17 AM

As far as your air lock is concerned it could be fluctuations in barometric pressure.


If you are still getting separation with the mash on top, there is still plenty of fermentation going on. I'd shake it up a bit to get it under or at least permeated with the water/juice till it completely sinks underneath it.


You may consider bringing it inside to keep the temperatures fairly constant.

Thanks for the reply!


I had considered the air lock thing could be related to barometric pressure. Just a little surprised that I've had to refill the barrel on the air lock daily for over a week now. I can certainly keep doing that until it sorts itself out though.


The entirety of the mash sunk to the bottom of the jar a little over a week ago and has stayed there, except for one really warm day, where it got up into the mid-70s in the house. That day, fermentation pushed a big chunk of the mash to the surface. The mash re-sunk the next day when temps in the house went back down to about 65. The mash has been completely submerged since.


And sorry, my previous post wasn't clear. The jar is inside and has been since I started the process. I keep it in a small cabinet in the kitchen. Temperatures have been fairly constant, but just cool. Unless it's hotter outside (and it hasn't been for about a week and a half), the ambient temperature in the house is about 65 give or take a couple degrees fluctuation throughout the day/night.


Think I should let sit for a few weeks more? Visually, everything appears to be in good shape.

In Topic: Fermenting Peppers 101

09 May 2017 - 08:50 AM

Hey folks,


Discovered this great forum a few days ago and have been thorougly enjoying reading through some of the pinned topics (especially Fermenting Peppers 101 and Making Hot Sauce 101). I started my first hot pepper mash fermentation experiment about 3 weeks ago (unfortunately before finding this site, but I don't seem to have made too many mistakes).


Essentially, the story up to this point is:

- Created a mash of 10 habaneros, 12 red jalapenos and 2 red bell peppers in the food processor (peppers stemmed but otherwise intact)

- Combined with 2% sea salt in a large bowl

- Put the salted mash in a 1/2 gallon mason jar and added a small splash of distilled water

- Put a dish cloth over the jar and screwed the ring from the jar lid on and placed in a kitchen cabinet

- Stirred mash once a day for 2 days

- After 2 days, I saw lots of bubbles and the mash/brine started to separate

- At this point, I replaced the dish cloth/ring with a plastic lid and air lock

- Fermentation took off and for about a week and change, the mash continued to separate with the bulk of the solids at the top and steady bubbling


A little over a week ago, however, the bubbles seemed to disappear and the mash has sunk to the bottom of the jar (presumably because there isn't enough CO2 being created to push it to the surface). Also, puzzlingly, my airlock has been going backward fairly regularly since then, meaning the water level has been rising under the floating piece and lowering in the barrel. It seems to eventually pull a little into the mash once it gets high enough as I've noticed the water level in the jar rise about a centimeter or so. I've been using distilled water in the airlock so I'm not overly concerned about the added water, aside from the undesirable effect of diluting my ferment.


I have a sneaking suspicion this is related to the ambient room temperature. When I began fermenation, temperatures were in the low 70s, but after a week or so like that, temperatures fell to the 50s/60s (meaning indoor room temperature around 65). We did have one day in the high 70s the other day (although it got cold again the next day), and all of a sudden fermentation picked up again. A big chunk of the mash started to float again and bubbles could be seen around the surface and in the mash. The mash has since settled to the bottom again (possibly due to the cold weather returning the following day).


My questions for anyone who can assist are twofold!


1. Is there anything I can do to warm the mash to spur resumption of fermentation (presuming temperature is the reason why it's stalled) or should I just let it sit and wait for weather to warm up again? I'm in no hurry at all, but it might be another 2-3 weeks before we get temperatures in the 70s again.

2. Any ideas on what is causing the airlock to flow backwards? As it stands, I have to refill it daily to keep it from breaking the seal.


And some other general information about my plans, in case it's relevant to answering my questions or anyone has any general advice:

- After the fermentation is done, I plan on cooking the mash, running it through a food mill, then adding vinegar (either rice or apple cider) to taste

- This sauce is purely for my own personal use (so no need to meet commercial standards so long as I'm not endangering my life)

- As I don't own a ph meter yet, I plan on keeping this sauce refrigerated after the steps in my first bullet above