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fermenting First Fermentation Flog

Visited my grandfolks a couple days ago, and they've got a bumper crop of banana peppers going.  So, I managed to scoop up a nice bag to bring home and try out my first fermentation before my Cayenne, Habanero, and Thai peppers finish ripening.  I love pickled banana pepper rings, so my goal is to create some tasty fermented banana pepper rings to use on pizza, sandwiches, etc.
 
1. I started with a gallon jug of distilled water.  Poured some out and weighed it at 3530 grams.  Figured less ~60 grams (for gallon jug container weight) = 3470 grams.  Thus 125 grams of added salt would create a 3.6% solution (somewhat arbitrary, bit I think it should be okay)  I don't want them too salty, but also obviously not salty enough.  I used finely ground Himalayan pink salt.
 
2. Next I sanitized my equipment.  With mason jars and weights submerged in a large pot, once the water came to a rolling boil I left them in for 15 minutes.  For the plastic/silicon caps and seals, I prepared a 70/30 mixture of 99.9% pure isopropanol / distilled water in a spray bottle, sprayed them down thoroughly, let them sit for 15 minutes, and wiped dry with a clean paper towel.  
 
3. Finally, once the jars cooled, I thoroughly soaked and washed my peppers before chopping them into rings (no gloves, but thoroughly washed hands) and tossing into the jars.  I filled up to the neck of the wide mouth mason jars, then added the brine, then added the weights and pressed them down so there was maybe a little less than 1" between the water line and lid.  I removed seeds that floated to the top, but I'm not sure yet if that's entirely necessary.  Screwed the caps on and inserted the bubbler air locks (bottoms not touching the water inside) and added water to them.
 
4. They're currently stored in my workshop of all places because it is a constant 68-71 degrees F and <45 rH regardless of what's going on outside at any time.  I'm going to put these in a box tomorrow so there's no light reaching them and hopefully that will be about right.  I plan to let these go for 3 weeks.
 
Some things I discovered today:
 
Next time I will wear sterile gloves.  For one, it's another sanitation control.  For two, my hand actually felt warm for awhile after handling these supposedly docile/not so hot peppers.  But, once you're handling 40 or 50 peppers, the hot wax or resin they produce can really start to creep into your skin I think.  And I thought I was invincible to them given my experiences with eating sauces made from much stronger super hots.  Not so it seems!
 
Also, I want to use Star San next time.  Nothing glamorous about it, I just think it's another sanitation control.  I've used isopropyl alcohol for years, mainly for electronics actually, but also in a lot of other ways to sanitize things.  It works, but it is actually pretty harmful if ingested.  This is no issue if you let it all evaporate (which it does so freely and pretty quickly), but the Star San I think is a much friendlier yet hopefully effective last step..right before you assemble everything, give a little spritz of Star San and let it dry.  That's my intention right now for next time at least.
 
Keep y'all posted!
 

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So already today I can see the fermentation starting. There are noticeable bubbles and the airlocks are pressed upwards in their cylinders. Nice.

I do have a floater that I'm guessing got pushed up around the weight by some bubbles. Do you think it's worth removing the lid to remove it now or should I let it be?

Also, my mom picked up a whole bunch of these fresh hot Portugal peppers from a local outfit. Tasted one raw and thought it might be a nice addition, so I repeated yesterday's process with the left over brine. I think they tasted nice, hardy and kind of like a bell pepper in a way with the thick skin, but also maybe 1.5x the heat of a jalapeno. Pretty cool find, especially a whole chopped quart jar full for $3. It too already has a couple floaters so I'd really appreciate any advice on how to treat it!
 

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Alright we are 5-6 days in and everything has been bubbling up and the brine has turned cloudy. The Hot Portugals for some reason have really shrunk down compared to the hot bananas, but I think everything is looking relatively okay. I'll post back around the 2 week mark.
 

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Well guys, I don't know if any of these are going to be usable :(
 
So I got anxious to try one, pulled the lid off 10 days in.  Everything looked great - nice and cloudy, nothing whatsoever growing above the brine.  Just a bit of white looking deposit on the top of the weight under the brine and on bottom of the jar from what I understand as being dormant Lactobacillus which is alright.
 
So it looked great, but the smell left a lot to be desired.  It was pungent and tangy, but it didn't even really smell anything like peppers anymore.  The taste is pretty much like the smell.  Just a tangy, moderately off-putting flavor that is followed by saltiness.  If I closed my eyes and ate it, I wouldn't have even guessed I was eating a pepper lol.  It was still pretty crispy though, I'll give you that.
 
With this discovery I opened the other 2 jars...yep, same thing going on.  They got the smell, and I bet they got the taste.  So I'm not sure where to go from here.  I've got a bunch of stuff coming up that needs to go into jars this weekend.  Maybe I'll switch to sea salt and cut down to 2.5% since I've had no obvious signs of mold or yeast.  Also, my workshop has stayed very stable between 68 and 72 (my initial target), but digging around the interwebs I've seen temps over 70 could create off flavors, so maybe I'll crank it down to 60-65 and try to roll with that.
 
Not the best first try, but I hope it's progress.  There's so much conflicting info out there, I'll just have to trial and error until I find what works for me.
 

Siv

Extreme Member
It sounds like it's doing exactly what I would expect it to. The lactobacillus takes the sugars in the peppers and turns it into lactic acid and CO2 so the flavour change is expected. Pungent and tangy is what I look for in a ferment!
 
Siv, you're right. And tbh I'm an idiot here for jumping to conclusions. The fermentations worked. I just couldn't get down with those bananas for some reason, but those hot portugals are so good! Totally funky but in all the right ways. I just made my first big harvest from my own garden. I'll report back later with what I come up with.
 
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Here's my next run with fresh peppers from my own garden.

Jalapeno slices with a couple smashed cloves of garlic, red onion, and a habanero for some motivation.

And

Trying to make a spicy sauce with cayenne, a couple habs, a couple thai, white onion, and a tsp of whole peppercorns (might pull a few out before blending for how little this actually made).

Cut back salt to 2.75% by weight, but also stepped up sanitation. Boiled glass pieces for 30 minutes and did routine isopropanol sanitation on plastics. Also mixed a Star San solution and sprayed it all down right before assembly.

We shall see. :)
 

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