Bottling Batch 23 Fermented Hot Sauce

By Published On: February 4th, 20242.9 min readCategories: Projects
10 bottles of hot sauce arranged on a counter

Batch 23 Hot Sauce Freshly Bottled

Author’s Note: Every year since 2001, I’ve made a slow fermented hot sauce from a unique Cayenne hot pepper we’ve grown here since the early 1990’s. The hot sauce takes around six months to finish and, like wine and other fermented foods, each vintage is a little different from the other. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad. I write these notes to track the progress and hope I learn how to produce more good than bad.

It’s been a weird year.

First a cool spring delayed the flowering of the cayenne peppers, then a rare tropical storm in August knocked half the blooms and peppers off the plant. By the time the plants had recovered enough to start picking peppers to ferment it was October, which is about two months later than normal.

By the time an early cold snap hit in November I had only three additions of fresh peppers to the fermenting vessel – as opposed to 6 or more normally – and I wound up with barely one gallon of (future) hot sauce to ferment through the winter.

A 1 gallon jar with hot peppers in brine

Batch 23 of the fermenting peppers on January 30

A check a couple weeks ago showed the peppers were no longer fermenting and were instead just becoming mushy and sad, so I decided to pull the trigger and bottle the sauce before anything else went wrong.

cayenne peppers in a pot

The pepper poured into a pot to simmer

I poured the fermented peppers into a large pot and set it to simmer for a couple of hours. When the peppers looked sufficiently cooked (as indicated by the green tops detaching from the peppers), I took a stick blender to them and whipped them into a mushy mix.

Once the peppers were sufficiently broken down, I put them into a metal strainer and pressed them to strain the liquid into another large pot.

ground peppers in a strainer to remove the liquid

Pressing the blended peppers through a strainer

I set aside the pressed peppers and seeds (I’ll be drying those to make a rodent repellent), and added about four cups of white vinegar to the pepper liquid to stop any fermentation that might kick back up.

hot pepper sauce in a large pot

The hot pepper liquid ready to have vinegar added

After leaving the liquid on low heat for a couple more hours to reduce the liquid and thicken the sauce, I ladled it into 5-ounce sauce bottles and sealed them.

Another 10 minutes in a water bath to completely sterilize the bottles, and the sauce was ready to go.

In all we got a total of 10-½ bottles, which is about half of what we get in a normal year. They’re all off in the garage resting in a cool place now. In a couple of weeks we’ll pop a bottle open and see what it’s like.

10 bottles of hot sauce arranged on a counter

Batch 23 Hot Sauce Freshly Bottled

I’m guessing that with the shorter fermentation and generally cool weather, Batch 23 of the fermented hot sauce is going to be milder and without the usual fruity funk we get when it runs all winter.

Only time will tell.

Batch 23 Timeline

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About the Author

author avatar
Sage Osterfeld
I’m just a guy with nearly an acre of dirt, a nice little mid-century ranch house and a near-perfect climate. But in my mind I’m a landscaper survivalist craftsman chef naturalist with a barbeque the size of a VW and my own cable TV show. I like to write about the stuff I build, grow and see here at Sage's Acre.

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