fermenting Advice on fermented sauce.

So while I'm not new to hot sauce making, I've never made a fermented sauce yet. I was wondering if anyone can give advice? Off the top of my head, I have a few questions;
1. Does fermenting make a significant difference in flavor over a regular vinegar hot sauce?
2. What is the sweet spotting time wise for fermenting peppers?
3. Do the stems need to be removed and the peppers cut? I have loads of tabasco peppers coming in, so wondering how to treat them.
4. Best way to do a large ferment or equipment needed? I have loads of cayenne and tabasco and dont want to ferment in a bunch of jars.
5. Best way to keep them submerged in brine?

Im sure all this has been covered before, but any feedback would be great.
Btw...I will read all fermenting stickies when I get a chance.
 
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Solution
1. Yes, it definitely makes a difference. Lactic acid is something my palette was not used to when I started, it is sour but different than acetic acid from a vinegar fermentation. It's not something easily detected in a lot of fermented commercial sauces because they're mostly watered down with tons of vinegar. There are also many hundreds or perhaps thousands of other different flavor molecules a fermentation can produce.

2. At least 2 months for me. I'd say 10-14 days bare minimum though depending on temperature.

3. That's generally how it's done, but I've seen it done all ways and heard all sorts or purported pros and cons. Some leave some of the stem on because it adds earthy notes and evidently has a lot of the good bugs on...

Kramer

Extreme Member
1. Yes, it definitely makes a difference. Lactic acid is something my palette was not used to when I started, it is sour but different than acetic acid from a vinegar fermentation. It's not something easily detected in a lot of fermented commercial sauces because they're mostly watered down with tons of vinegar. There are also many hundreds or perhaps thousands of other different flavor molecules a fermentation can produce.

2. At least 2 months for me. I'd say 10-14 days bare minimum though depending on temperature.

3. That's generally how it's done, but I've seen it done all ways and heard all sorts or purported pros and cons. Some leave some of the stem on because it adds earthy notes and evidently has a lot of the good bugs on it. I've also heard most of the spoilage carrying bacteria are there. Who knows.. Try both. Personally I just snap the stems off and if some stays on, no big deal.

Although you can ferment them whole, I would recommend at least cutting in half. You ever seen a pepper look perfect and feel firm on the outside, just to cut it open and see it full of black mold? Had a few of these (out of thousands of pods) this year. Yeah, don't want that in your fermenting brine or mash.

4. Get a food grade bucket with a lid that seals (or can be made to seal) airtight. Find a grommet that fits an airlock. Drill a whole in the lid, put the grommet in, insert your airlock. Wash and sanitize it all first with Starsan or similar of course.

5. Don't know, I ferment in half gallon wide mouth mason jars where a normal glass weight is supposed to fit. Hopefully someone else can opine. Depending on how much you're making, you may want to consider doing a mash. Then you don't have to worry so much about the weights, although you will have to be much more diligent about your sanitation and process to prevent unwanted stuff from growing.

My general rule of thumb is 400g of peppers per pint of mash, and you'll want a bit less for a small bit of headspace. I'm guessing a half gallon mason jar would take a bit under 1.5 kilos of peppers, turned into mash.
 
Solution
I have 2 ferments going right now. The gallon for hot sauce and the quart that I will drain the liquid off to put in hot sauce and dehydrate and grind the pulp for fermented pepper dust. The dust is outstanding and gives an excellent flavor boost.

Both ferments are heavily influenced by super hots such as jig saws, reapers, scorpions and ghosts, with carrots, onions, sweet reds, jalepenos, habs and lots of garlic...

In my opinion, fermenting has a far superior flavor to vinegar sauces, but that's just my preference. I would say ferment for at least 2 months and I try to let it go for 10 or more. Usually I get a batch going right after I bottle and don't touch it until I run out of sauce. I have a lot of super hots this years, so going to get several going and set one aside for 2 years to see if there is a difference.

I remove stems and do a mash with everything and do not add any liquid until bottling if necessary and then it is just water.

I do most in 1 gallon jugs, usually just leave lid slightly loose to vent, but made some IPA recently figured I'd try the airlock.
 

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