The candidates for this year's 20th anniversary batch of slow fermented hot sauce include a super-sized batch of my Thai/Cayenne cross and a Honduran pepper called "culebra negra" (black snake).
I like a good hot sauce. Not the mouth blistering hot stuff, but the spicy, complex kind that delivers a wave of interesting flavors as well as heat. For me, fermented hot sauces are the best at delivering that combination. Making fermented hot sauce is easy too. All you need is peppers, salt, water and a little time. Here's my basic 1 week hot sauce recipe, and a more exotic 6 month one that's a favorite every year.
The hot sauce has been quietly fermenting in a cool, dark area of the garage for several weeks now. It was before Christmas when I added the toasted oak staves and the last of the fresh peppers from the garden, so the bright red color is giving way to a duller brick red/orange. The peppers, which I added whole, are beginning to dissolve and fall apart, leaving a layer of pepper seeds at the bottom of the jar. A little [keep reading...]
That's it. Oak is in the brew and the last of the peppers are picked and added for Batch 19 of the Hidden Lake hot sauce. 12 weeks of fresh fermentation. Now for 12 weeks of aging. See you in spring peppers. Merry Christmas everyone else!
The summer ended with the rain in November. Then came the frost. Then came the rain again. These are officially the last peppers of Hidden Lake Hot Batch 19. At least they were easy to pick.
Rain and persistent cold weather have slowed the peppers to a crawl. There's still a few left on the plants, but not enough to hold off on moving the hot sauce to its resting stage. To enhance the flavor I add a couple of oak staves to the pepper brew and let it sit for another 8 - 12 weeks. American oak happens to be high in a compound called vanillin, which is why things that age in American oak [keep reading...]
Here it is, week 12 since I started the peppers fermenting. I don't know how it's possible, but the Hidden Lake Hot peppers in the garden are still hanging in despite heavy and 40 degree temperature swings between night and day. I managed to pick about 2-3 ounces of fresh pepper for a new addition (along with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, but no additional water), and will probably get 2-3 ounces more based on the number of peppers and new [keep reading...]
Another addition of 4 ounces or so of fresh peppers and a pinch of salt. Heavy rain last week knocked most of the remaining peppers off the plants, so we're coming to the end of fresh pepper additions for this year (yeah, I know, I write that every week -- but this time it's probably true). I'm going to let this ferment one more week then add oak and send the batch to age until March.
It's week seven of my hot sauce fermentation. I added another 4 ounces or so of fresh peppers, salt and more water and gave it a good stir. The fermentation is now giving off a tangy smell that's both spicy and funky. I figure I'll only have room for one more addition of fresh peppers before I add small amount of toasted oak and set it aside to age through the winter. The liquid is getting a little murky from [keep reading...]
Added another 4 ounces of fresh peppers and 1 tsp of pickling salt. Peppers are really starting to ferment and become mushy now. Jar is almost full too. Soon it will be time to add the oak and let it reset over the winter.